- Balham, London
infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
constituency_westminster= Battersea; Tooting
postcode_area = SW
postcode_district = SW12
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. [ [http://www.gwp.enta.net/surrnames.htm 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 Streetto 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 stationon 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 Commonto the north, Wandsworth Commonto 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 Londonand 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 gentrificationof the area. In October of the same year, organicsupermarket As Nature Intendedopened 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 Catholicchurch 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 Sellersbut actually written by Frank Muirand Denis Nordenas part of a BBCradio 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 prostitutionthroughout 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 stationwas 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[http://www.thebedford.co.uk/] – A pub venue on Bedford Hill famous for live music and comedy, with Eddie Izzardand Al Murrayamong 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 Year2002.
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 Priceand 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. [ [http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/postcodes/places/SW17.html | 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 Rutherfordand, currently, comedian and writer Arthur Smith. Scenes from Agatha Christie's Poirotwere filmed in the building. The White Stripes– American Indie group The White Stripesfilmed their video for "Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground" in a house in Balham
Notable people associated with Balham
Turin Brakescome from Balham. The comedian Peter Baynhamis also a Balham resident, as is his Fist of Funcharacter, 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 Harriotwas born in Balham
Sarah Beenyof "Property Ladder" fame, amongst other things, also lives in Balham.
Tiggy Legge-Bourketaught at a nursery school in Balham before becoming nannyto Prince William and Prince Harry.
Transport and locale
Nearest tube stations
Balham tube station
Clapham South tube station
Tooting Bec tube station
Nearest railway stations
Balham railway station
Wandsworth Common railway station
* [http://www.balham.com Balham Community Site]
* [http://www.myclapham.co.uk/clapham/property-du-cane-court.htm History of Du Cane Court]
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