The oldest private members’ clubs were established in the West End as early as 1693. Today, the area of St James's is still sometimes called "clubland". Many Clubs evolved from the coffee houses of 18th century London to become is now known as a traditional Private Members’ Club. Reaching the height of their influence in the late 19th century, there were over 400 such establishments.
The origins of the Association of London Clubs are unfortunately not recorded. The earliest minute book in the Association’s possession commences in April 1958. It is clear however that this was not the first meeting and that the Association was well established and known in Government circles before then, in fact it was later discovered that the first cash book entry was in 1942. In 1958 the Association sent a representative to sit on the minimum wages board and the Home Office consulted the Association on proposed changes to the licensing laws and asked the Association for the definition of a Club.
From 1961 no meetings were held until 1966 when one Club Secretary called a meeting to suggest the Secretaries of London Clubs formed an Association. There were around 20 Secretaries in attendance who listened patiently as the Secretary shared his thoughts. He was allowed to finish his rousing address before the Secretaries kindly informed him that there was already an Association in being with funds in the bank. The Secretaries agreed to meet two months later to decide if the Association should become active again. Twenty-three Secretaries attended the meeting plus the Hon Secretary. The meeting agreed to revive the Association and it has remained active ever since.
The members of the ALC all pride themselves on their warm welcome to members and their guests – and they bring that same warmth to their relationships with each other through the Association.