Balham, London

Balham, London

infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= Balham
latitude= 51.4434
longitude= -0.1525
london_borough= Wandsworth
constituency_westminster= Battersea; Tooting
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area = SW
postcode_district = SW12
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ285735

Balham IPA| ['bæləm] is a neighbourhood in South London, England.

The settlement appears in the "Domesday Book" as "Belgeham". It was held by Geoffrey Orlateile. Its "Domesday" Assets were: 1½ ploughs, convert|8|acre|m2 of meadow. It rendered (in total): £2. [ [ Surrey "Domesday Book"] ]


The area has been settled since Saxon times. Balham Hill and Balham High Road follow the line of the Roman road Stane Street to Chichester – (now the A24 road). Balham is recorded in several maps in the 1600s as Ballam or Balham Hill or Balham Manor. The village was largely within the parish of Streatham, although land to the north was part of Battersea. Large country retreats for the affluent classes were built there in the eighteenth century; however, most development occurred after the opening of Balham railway station on the line to Crystal Palace in 1856.

Most of Balham is in the London Borough of Wandsworth, although the SW12 postcode, generally thought to be coterminous with Balham, includes the Hyde Farm area east of Cavendish Road within Lambeth.The southern part of Balham, towards Tooting Bec, near the 1930s block of flats called Du Cane Court and the area to the south of Wandsworth Common, comes under the SW17 postcode.

Balham is situated between four south London Commons: Clapham Common to the north, Wandsworth Common to the west, Tooting Graveney Common to the south, and the adjoining Tooting Bec Common to the east – the latter two historically distinct areas are referred to by both Wandsworth council and some local people as Tooting Common.

It possesses a railway/tube interchange station (the origin of the phrase "Balham – Gateway to the South" was reputedly a genuine Southern Railway advertisement dating from the 1926 opening of the tube station). The stations connect Balham easily and quickly to both the City of London and the West End. This has helped make it an increasingly popular location, and property prices have soared as middle class professionals have moved in, causing the district to lose some of the working class feel it had up till the 1990s. As a result, Balham's town centre now boasts an increasingly vibrant night life with a variety of bars and restaurants. In May 2006, Waitrose, the supermarket subsidiary of the John Lewis Partnership, opened a store in Balham marking another stage in the gentrification of the area. In October of the same year, organic supermarket As Nature Intended opened its doors on a site previously occupied by a branch of the frozen food chain, Iceland.

The Polish population in Balham has hugely increased since 2006, though Balham has been one of the centres of the community in London since World War II. The White Eagle Club is a thriving Polish community centre, and its traditional Saturday night dance ("zabawa") draws people from across London. Opposite the White Eagle, the small Polish Catholic church is filled to overflowing on a Sunday.

Today the Somali, Pakistani and Brazilian communities are also well represented in the wards making up modern Balham.

Balham is notable for

Bal-ham, Gateway to the South – This is a line in a celebrated sketch made famous by Peter Sellers but actually written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden as part of a BBC radio series called Third Division in the 1950s; It should be spoken with a broad (and phony) American accent.

Prostitution – The Bedford Hill area of Balham was associated with street prostitution throughout the seventies and eighties. Despite attempts by the local authority, police and residents to clean up the area, the problem remains.

The Charles Bravo Murder – In 1876, a local resident and lawyer, Charles Bravo, was poisoned, possibly by his wife. The case remains unsolved.

World War II air raids – On 14 October 1940 Balham tube station was involved in bombing raids which took place in London during World War II. People took cover in the tube station. A bomb landed directly on top of the station bursting water and gas mains killing 68 people. This particular bomb was featured in "Atonement", a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan

The Bedford [] – A pub venue on Bedford Hill famous for live music and comedy, with Eddie Izzard and Al Murray among the famous names to have graced the stage at the 'Banana Cabaret'. It has won various awards including The Publican Music Pub of the Year 2004, The Morning Advertiser Pub of the Year 2004 and The Evening Standard Pub of the Year 2002.

Record Corner – Balham was one of the few districts in South East England to have an independent record store that survived the growth of music store chains such as Our Price and HMV; Record Corner was located just across the road from Waitrose. However the Record Corner eventually closed in 2003.

My Back Pages – One of the few independent bookshops left in London, My Back Pages (named after the song on Bob Dylan's 1964 album "Another Side of Bob Dylan"), is a popular shop which stocks second-hand, antiquarian and new books. The shop opened in 1991 and was due to close down in 2008, but due to the sale falling through, the shop has remained open.

Du Cane Court – DCC is, reportedly, the largest block of apartments in Europe built for private occupation rather than as social housing. [ [ | Museum of London postcodes project] ] Its 676 flats range from studios up to 4-bedroom penthouses. The block has boasted many famous residents, including comedian Tommy Trinder, actress Dame Margaret Rutherford and, currently, comedian and writer Arthur Smith. Scenes from Agatha Christie's Poirot were filmed in the building.

The White Stripes – American Indie group The White Stripes filmed their video for "Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground" in a house in Balham

Notable people associated with Balham

*Acoustic duo Turin Brakes come from Balham. The comedian Peter Baynham is also a Balham resident, as is his Fist of Fun character, also named Peter. Another comedian, Arthur Smith, also lives in Balham, along with Andy Zaltzman.

*John Sullivan, writer of "Only Fools and Horses" was born in Balham.

*Ainsley Harriot was born in Balham

*Sarah Beeny of "Property Ladder" fame, amongst other things, also lives in Balham.

*Tiggy Legge-Bourke taught at a nursery school in Balham before becoming nanny to Prince William and Prince Harry.

Transport and locale

Nearest places

* Tooting
* Clapham
* Streatham
* Brixton
* Battersea
* Wandsworth

Nearest tube stations

* Balham tube station
* Clapham South tube station
* Tooting Bec tube station

Nearest railway stations

* Balham railway station
* Wandsworth Common railway station


External links

* [ Balham Community Site]
* [ History of Du Cane Court]

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