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Ade Bloke of London Town
The Mazzini-Garibaldi Club, Laystall Street/Red Lion Street.
The Mazzini-Garibaldi Club is an organisation initially set up in London in 1864 as the La Società per il Progresso degli Operai Italiani in Londra, under the joint presidency of Guiseppe Mazzini and Guiseppe Garibaldi, Italian revolutionaries and champions of a united Italy.
Mazzini, born in Genoa in 1805, was exiled for his beliefs and after stays around Europe, finally made London his home from where he could command the hopeful unification of his homeland. Mazzini lived in many modest lodgings mostly around the Bloomsbury, and Clerkenwell area (London’s ‘Little Italy’), where he set up the society and a school. The Italian revolutionary lived at 5 Hatton Garden and 155 Gower St, Bloomsbury, as he attempted to bring his homeland unification idea to fruition, and the society grew out of 10 Laystall Street, Clerkenwell, from 1877.
Although Mazzini had died in 1872, unification of Italy had come to fruition one year earlier. The society of which Mazzini had given birth to in London grew and has been an instrumental group for Italian immigrants to London for 150 years. Many plaques and monuments are dotted around town paying respect to Mazzini, and none more so than at 10 Laystall Street. The club moved to 51 Red Lion Street in 1930, and here the premises were confiscated between 1940 and 1945 by the British government, and placed in the hands of the Custodian of Enemy Property. Many Italian men were interned as enemy aliens, and deported on the SS Arandora Star, which was torpedoed off the North West coast of Ireland on 2nd July 1940. 241 London Italians, mostly working men with no political leanings whatsoever, are known to have died in the tragedy. Although the club moved out of the area in 2008, in line with many Italian immigrants moving to the suburbs, it still continues as a society to this day.