Macaulay Walk

Your new home in the Old Town


Clapham Old Town started out as a medieval village built on higher ground above the Battersea marshes, but only really flourished in the 18th century as a residential destination for the wealthy. Large residences lined the common’s north side with mature gardens behind. At this point, Macaulay Walk was the site of the local cricket pitch, next to the ‘Parochial School’ and rectory to Holy Trinity. The grand church was also the home of The Clapham Sect – a group of evangelical Christians committed

to missionary and, most famously, the opposition of slavery.

Dubbed ‘The Saints’, this unconventional open-house community of political activist included Zachary Macaulay, the founder and governor of Freetown, Sierra Leone - the first colony of freed slaves - as well as William Wilberforce, and Bishop Beilby Porteus, noted for his works defending the rights of slaves in Jamaica and Barbados, and upholding the sanctity of Sundays in law.


Ross Optical Works opened in Clapham in 1891, providing industry-leading photographic lenses and cameras for their Bond Street shop, and building on their previous work, which included aiding Henry Fox Talbot develop the calotype - a precursor to the photograph. The outbreak of war in 1913, however, really sparked a radical expansion in their operations. Supported by the War Office, the works needed to replace and out-perform German competitors - the traditional world leaders in optical equipment.

At their peak, the Ross was employing 1200 staff across the site, now stretching from Clapham Common North Side to Macaulay Road and incorporating the old school as the company canteen. At the point of closure in 1975, the works had 400 employees who worked over 300 pieces of large machinery in the workshops that had been expanded to the point of creating an internal street - a feature that has been retained in the new scheme, alongside original workshops, stocks and the Ross Works camera shop.

Important notice