Balham, London: Wikis


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Coordinates: 51°26′36″N 0°09′09″W / 51.4434°N 0.1525°W / 51.4434; -0.1525

Balham is located in Greater London

 Balham shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ285735
London borough Wandsworth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW12
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Battersea; Tooting
London Assembly Merton and Wandsworth
List of places: UK • England • London

Balham (pronounced /ˈbæləm/) 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, 8 acres (32,000 m2) of meadow. It rendered (in total): £2.[1]



The Polish Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King

The Balham 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.

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 64 people. This particular bomb was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan.


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.

Other nearby areas include Streatham, Brixton and Battersea.


Balham's town centre has 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.


Property prices have risen as middle class professionals have moved in, causing the district to lose some of the working class feel it had up till the 1990s.

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.


The Bedford is a pub venue for live music and comedy on Bedford Hill; performers at the 'Banana Cabaret' have included Eddie Izzard and Al Murray.[2] The pub 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.[3] In 1876, the building (then named "The Bedford Hotel") housed the Coroners inquest into the notorious unsolved murder of Charles Bravo.[4]

Du Cane Court is a distinctive local landmark with its Art Deco design

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, Record Corner eventually closed in 2003.

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 shop which stocks second-hand, antiquarian and new books. The shop opened in 1991.

Du Cane Court is the largest block of apartments in Europe built for private occupation rather than as social housing.[5] Its 676 flats range from studios up to 4-bedroom penthouses. The block has had a number of notable 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.

Balham, Gateway to the South is a comedy sketch performed by Peter Sellers and written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden as part of a BBC radio series called Third Division.

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.


Balham has a railway/tube interchange station, Balham tube station and Balham railway station. The origin of the phrase "Balham – Gateway to the South" was a Southern Railway advertisement dating from the 1926 opening of the tube station. The stations connect Balham to both the City of London and the West End.

Notable people

  • Percy Fender Surrey Cricket Captain, World record holder and England Test all rounder was born in Balham


External links



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