A lot has changed in one hundred years. Here are just a few of the personal, local and global events and landmarks that have occurred during the lifetime of The Penn Club.

January 22, 1901

Edward VII

King Edward VII
Photograph of Edward VII (NPG x196423) © National Portrait Gallery, London

King Edward ascends the throne and reigns for nine years.


June 5, 1910

George V

King George V, Solomon Joseph Solomon (NPG 5423) © National Portrait Gallery

King George V ascends the throne on the death of his father.

April 14, 1912


© Library of Congress (2001704329)

HMS Titanic collides with an iceberg on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to New York and sinks, with the loss of more than 1500 lives.

July 28, 1914

First World War

World War I
(311) C.2494 – Troops moving up at eventide, October 1917
© National Libraries of Scotland

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Hungary precipitated the outbreak of war between the principle military powers of Europe. The war would continue for four years.

February 6, 1918

Women First Given Vote

Woven vote for the first time
Votes for Women
© George Eastman Museum

The Representation of People Act 1918 allowed some women to vote for the first time; but only those over the age of 30 who occupied a house – about 40% of women in the UK at that time.
The same act granted the vote to all men over the age of 21.

November 11, 1918

Armistice Signed to End First World War

Train carriage in which the armistice was signed
© Library of Congress

In the Rethondes Clearing in the Compiègne Forest near Paris, the World War I Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 by the Allies and the German plenipotentiaries sat inside this train carriage to sign the armistice, marking the end of World War I.

May 2, 1919

Announcement of the Penn Club

First public announcement of the desire to form a members Club for young Quakers; made in The Friend.

June 28, 1919

Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of versaille
KZ186.2 TRE
© Auckland Museum 

The Treaty of Versailles signed, setting out the reparations due by Germany following the First World War.
It also established of The League of Nations.

October 14, 1920

The Penn Club opens

The Penn Club, leaflet advertising the opening ceremony and Autumn lecture series, 1920.
© The Penn Club

On 14 October 1920, following a brief delay to fully fit out the property, the Penn Club was inaugurated at its premises at 8-10 Tavistock Square, WC1. The Opening Ceremony was chaired by Arnold Rowntree.

November 4, 1922

Tutankhamun tomb discovered

A mummified human skull; inscribed on verso “Tutankh-amen revealed after 3.000 years. Daily Mirror, London, 5th July 1926”. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0)

Tomb KV62 in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter. To raise money to pay for the complex process of excavation, preservation and cataloguing the tomb’s riches, Lord Carnarvon who sponsored the dig signed an exclusive deal with The Times newspaper, giving it sole rights to supply the world’s press with news and photographs. The financial support and continued media interest this generated was vital to enable the costly decade of excavation.

January 1, 1924


Virginia & Leonard Woolf move to 52 Tavistock Square; they continue to live her for fifteen years.

January 1, 1927

British Broadcasting Corporation

Radio Times, Issue 171 [©BBC]
The British Broadcasting Company, originally founded on 18 October 1922, is established by Royal Charter as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

January 1, 1927


First electric refrigerator purchased by The Penn Club

September 30, 1928

Penicillin discovered

Alexander Fleming
(NLM 101415057)

Biologist Alexander Fleming isolated a mould of the Penicillium genus having witnessed its efficacy to kill bacteria.

October 24, 1929

Wall Street Crash

Crowd of people gather outside the New York Stock Exchange following the Crash of 1929 [© LOC 99471695]
Black Thursday saw US investors trade 13 million shares on the New York stock exchange, causing billions of dollars to be lost. The market stabilised but suffered further severe losses the following Monday and Tuesday, with contagion spreading globally and the US Stock market falling further as investors tried to sell all stocks at once.

September 10, 1932

Penn Pilgramage

Pilgrimage by motorcoach for no more than 100 people to mark the 250th anniversary of the Sailing of William Penn for Pennsylvania, visiting various sites and buildings related to W. Penn across Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire Chilterns. Organised by The Penn Club & the Friends Historical Society.

June 10, 1933

Penn Pageant

A dramatic enactment of 16 key moments of William Penn’s life was arranged at Jordans, the Quaker centre in Hertfordshire. The Penn Club’s warden, Samuel Graveson, was the pageant secretary, and a number of the actors involved came from The Club.

January 24, 1935

Fifteenth Anniversary

A dinner organised to celebrate the first fifteen years of The Club was arranged, and a group photograph taken, annotated with the names of each member.

July 30, 1935

First Penguin Paperback

© Penguin 

Publisher Penguin was founded by Allen Lane who wanted to revolutionise the publishing market by offering high-quality contemporary fiction at bookstores, railway stations and tobacconists for the same prices as a pack of cigarettes.

January 20, 1936

Edward VIII

© National Media Museum

Edward VIII ascends the throne. His affair with Wallis Simpson had begun in 1934, and he spent the first months as King trying to persuade the establishment to an arrangement whereby he could marry her, but to no avail. The relationship had been kept out of the British press but was announced on 3 December, and a week later he submitted his abdication of the throne.

May 12, 1937

George VI

King George VI with his wife, Queen Elizabeth. © IWM (H 19337)

Following his brother’s abdication on 10 December, George VI ascended to the throne the following day, a role he had never anticipated having. He was crowned king in May the following year.

October 17, 1938

Penn Club moves

Due to the landlord’s intention to redevelop the buildings in Tavistock Square that The Penn Club occupied, the Club had to find new premises. Following a long search and weighing up of options, the club took a long lease of the vacated Alexandra Hotel at 21-23 Bedford Place.

September 1, 1939

World War Two

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrives in France, September – October 1939: Men of the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards marching through Cherbourg
© IWM (O 87)

Nazi Germany invaded Poland, signalling the start of World War Two. Britain and France declared War on Germany two days later.

January 8, 1940

Ration book

© Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum Service)

Food rationing was introduced across Britain, aimed to ensure fair shares for all at a time of shortage. Overseen by the Ministry of Food, basic foodstuffs such as sugar, meat, fats, bacon and cheese were rationed and available with the requisite coupons. Other items such as tinned and dried goods were allocated according to points, but their availability fluctuated.

May 10, 1940

Winston Churchill

Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain
© LOC (2017871963)

Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, presiding over a coalition government formed with key elements from both the Labour and Conservative parties.

September 7, 1940


© IWM (D 1091)

The ‘Blitz’ – from the German term Blitzkrieg (‘lightning war’) – was the sustained campaign of aerial bombing attacks on British towns and cities carried out by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) from September 1940 until May 1941. London was then bombed for 57 consecutive nights, during which time German bombers dropped 711 tons of high explosive and 2,393 incendiaries. 1,436 civilians were killed.

June 6, 1944


Troops landing on the Normandy Beaches during Operation Overlord
© NARA (513173)

Codenamed Operation Overlord, D-Day saw the Allied forces landing on the beaches of northern France to launch a combined naval, air and land assault on Nazi-occupied France with troops from twelve countries.

June 13, 1944


© Spudgun

The first V1 ‘Doodle bug’ flying bombs fell on London. The intense bombing of London dropped significantly by the end of September, with the final bomb falling in Suffolk in March 1945. During this time, more than 2700 Vergeltungswaffen-1 (Vengeance Weapon 1) fell causing death, injury and psychological misery from the distinct noise, as well as great destruction of Britain’s cities.

May 8, 1945

VE-Day across Europe

Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London during the evening of VE Day, 8 May 1945
© IWM (EA 65881)

On 7th May, Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany, signalling the end of World War Two in Europe. A special announcement was broadcast on BBC Radio late that day, announcing that 8 May, Victory in Europe Day, would be a public holiday.

June 21, 1948

HMT Empire Windrush

Caribbean immigrants at Tilbury Dock
© Getty Images (79655998)

HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex carrying hundreds of people from the Caribbean, enticed to travel by promises of job opportunities in the UK’s post-war labour shortage.

July 5, 1948

NHS Founded

Anenurin Bevan, Minister of Health, on the first day of the National Health Service, at Park Hospital, Davyhulme, near Manchester
© University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences

The ambition to create a health service that was free at the point of use by all became a reality.

July 29, 1948

Olympic Games

Olympic poster
© Olympics
Famously referred to as the ‘Austerity’ games, London hosted the Olympic games at short notice – the first time the games had been held for twelve years.

January 1, 1951

The Day of the Triffids

© Heritage Auctions

Written by long-term resident of The Penn Club, John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids is set squarely in post-war England. When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth’s population blind, the Triffids (plants with lethal stingers and carnivorous appetites which resulted from Soviet biological experimentation) seem set to take control. Suggesting the culmination of human hubris, Wyndham’s apocalyptic vision of nature’s triumph over civilisation is partly stylised, with the trappings of Cold War paranoia.

May 3, 1951

Festival of Britain

Festival of Britain poster
Arranged to commemorate the centenary of the Great Exhibition, the Festival of Britain was celebrated across the country, but its main focus was the South Bank of the Thames. The Royal Festival Hall was built and opened in time for the exhibition, providing London with a new concert hall. Events, displays and temporary structures were arranged as ‘a tonic for the nation’, focusing on things like town planning, scientific progress, and all sorts of traditional and modern arts and crafts, giving Britons a feeling of recovery and progress.

February 28, 1953


Watson and Crick with their DNA model
© A. Barrington Brown, Gonville & Caius College / Science Photo Library (H400/0039)

Francis Crick and James Watson announce their discovery of DNA.

May 1, 1953


The Penn Club purchases its first television set so residents can watch the Queen’s Coronation.

June 2, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth and Philip Duke of Edinburgh © The Royal Family

Elizabeth II was coronated queen of England, fifteen months after ascending to the throne following the death of her father, George VI.

May 6, 1954

4-minute Mile

Sir Roger Bannister, crossing the line.
© The Times Newspapers

At an athletics meeting between British AAA and Oxford University, Roger Bannister ran one mile in 3:59.4, the first man recorded to cover this distance in under four minutes.

August 26, 1959

Mini launched

© Mini/BMW

The Mark I Mini was developed and launch in response to a fuel shortage, and the need for more efficient city cars.

April 12, 1961

Yuri Gagarin


Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space when his Vostok 1 spacecraft was launched at and orbited Earth once in 1 hour 29 minutes.

August 28, 1963

I have a Dream

© Julian Wasser / Britannica.com

Baptist minister and social activist Martin Luther King, Jr. joined other civil rights leaders to organise an historic March on Washington in August. In the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, an interracial assembly of more than 200,000 gathered peaceably to demand equal justice for all citizens under the law. Here, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he emphasized his faith that all men, someday, would be brothers.


August 8, 1965

Post Office Tower

© David Farrell / Getty Images

Britain’s tallest building opens: Post Office Tower in central London was commissioned by the General Post Office to support microwave aerials carrying telecommunications transmissions from London to the rest of the country.

January 1, 1966

Mini Skirt

© Larry Ellis / Getty Images (3137626)

Fashion designer Mary Quant begins selling a range of extremely short skirts and shift dresses at her boutique in London’s Kings Road. The mini skirt became Quant’s trademark, popularised by the era’s most high-profile model, Twiggy.

July 30, 1966

World Cup

© AP

England win the World Cup, beating Germany in the final 4-2.

July 21, 1969

Apollo 11


Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin land and become the first men to walk on the moon.

July 22, 1970


© Boeing

The first Boeing 747 commercial flight took place, taking passengers from New York to London.

February 15, 1971


© Royal Mint

Decimalised currency replaces pounds, shillings and pence.

January 1, 1973


Britain joins the European Economic Community.

January 21, 1976


© British Airways

The first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial aeroplane, jointly manufactured by Great Britain and France, made her first commercial flights: British Airways operating from London to Bahrain; Air France between Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

October 25, 1976

National Theatre

© National Theatre

The Queen officially opens the National Theatre’s dedicated building on the South Bank, London. Comprised of three theatres, the Olivier and the Lyttleton opened in 1976, with the third, the Cottlesloe, opening the following year.

June 6, 1977

Silver Jubilee

Policeman & child outside Grimsby Town Hall, awaiting arrival of Her Majesty the Queen 1977
© East Riding Archives (CCHU-4-1-9-2)

A week of celebrations to mark the Queen’s silver jubilee commences.

June 4, 1979

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher arrives at 10 Downing Street
© gov.uk

Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister.

April 26, 1984


© Ukrainian Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (IAEA Image Bank 37 02790015)

One of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power plant explodes. This caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the environment, with large quantities of radioactive substances being released into the air for about 10 days.

October 15, 1987

Great Storm

The Great Storm of 1987, infamously downplayed by BBC weatherman Michael Fish, caused severe damage across the country, bringing down trees, powerlines and damage to homes.
In the gardens behind the Penn Club, a large tree was brought down, damaging the rear of The Club.

November 9, 1989

German Reunification

© Carol Guzy / Washington Post

29 years after it was erected, The Berlin Wall was breached. Built to keep East Berliners inside the Communist Eastern bloc, the decay of Communist states like Hungary that evening crowds gathered to pass through to West Berlin, signalling the end of Communism.

February 11, 1990

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie following release from prison
© Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images (50438109)

Having served 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela is released.

October 1, 1990

World Wide Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
© World Wide Web Foundation

Tim Berners-Lee writes the fundamental technologies that drives the World Wide Web.

June 5, 1994

Channel Tunnel

© Reuters

Channel Tunnel opens.

October 5, 1994

Nelson Mandela

© AP

Nelson Mandela sworn in as South Africa’s first black president.

June 1, 1995

Limited Company

The 75th and final Annual General Meeting of the Penn Club as an unincorporated body, and its first Annual General Meeting as a company limited by guarantee.

February 22, 1997


© Toni Barros

Dolly the sheep was born, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, a technique developed by The Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

May 2, 1997

Tony Blair

© Richard Watt

Labour win the General Election; Tony Blair becomes prime minister.

April 10, 1998

Peace Agreement

© Whytes

The Northern Ireland Good Friday peace agreement was signed by the British and Irish Governments, and most of the political parties of Northern Ireland. The agreement outlined how Northern Ireland should be governed by representatives from all political sides, helping to bring an end to the period of conflict known as The Troubles.

July 7, 2005

London Terrorist bombings

© Reuters

Four suicide bombers attacked central London. 52 people were killed, and hundred more injured. The attacks were spread across the city, including the bombing of a bus in Russell Square.

January 20, 2009

Barack Obama

© NARA (118817951)

Senator Barack Obama, elected as President of the United States on 4 November 2008, is inaugurated as the US’s first African American President.

April 29, 2011

William and Kate

© Getty Images

Catherine Middleton marries Prince William.

June 6, 2012

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

© AP

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne.

July 25, 2012

Olympic Games 2012

© AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele / Getty Images [149369333]
For the third time, the Olympic games are hosted in London.

July 7, 2013

Andy Murray

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon © AFP PHOTO via Getty (173111537) 

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, becoming the first British Men’s champion since 1936.

June 23, 2016


A referendum held, asking citizens to vote if they wanted Britain to remain in the European Union.

July 4, 2020

Penn Club Centenary

A range of events to celebrate 100 years of The Penn Club.