On 24 August 2016, Wikipedia editors were invited to the National Liberal Club in London to for an edit-a-thon on the history of liberalism in the United Kingdom. The Club was established in 1882 by Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, intended to be a more inclusive gentleman's club, one "of a very different character" to the other Clubs in London, which he derided as "temples of luxury and ease". Today it is independent of any political party but remains closely aligned with the Liberal tradition. Its members may belong to any political party or none. The neo-Gothic building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse (who was also architect of the Natural History Museum, and Manchester Town Hall), was completed in 1887 and was at the time the largest clubhouse ever built. Some of the building has since been sold off, but it remains among the largest clubhouses in the world.
The Club holds a library of specialist materials—ranging from rare primary sources, and an extensive collection of reference texts—on the history of the liberal project in the United Kingdom, and British politics more broadly, which they agreed to open up to Wikipedia editors to improve Wikipedia content on politicians of the historical Liberal Party and the present-day Liberal Democrats.
Event organiser and Club Librarian, Dr Seth Thévoz said "there are so many documents, manuscripts, rare things out there that are in private hands, whether in Clubs like this one, or in people's homes, and being able to share that knowledge is really what Wikipedia and the ethos behind it is all about, and something we're delighted to do all we can to help."
In August, another two training sessions for staff took place at the Wellcome. Some participants added images to pictures, another added a surprising fact about a psychoanalyst and a mountain, and another has begun a sandbox draft of a new page. Following from the training so far, staff have requested a Wiki-club, to give them the opportunity to get together and edit every few weeks: the first session will take place in September.
I was a participant in the editathon at the National Liberal Club. The event was very pleasant and the video report well captures the gentil charms of this place. My own whimsical contribution appeared on the main page on 3 September: