Balham High Road
Balham shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|- Charing Cross||4.5 mi (7.2 km) NNE|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Battersea; Tooting|
|London Assembly||Merton and Wandsworth|
The settlement appears in the Domesday Book as Belgeham. Bal refers to 'rounded enclosure' and ham to a homestead, village or river enclosure. It was held by Geoffrey Orlateile. Its Domesday Assets were: 1½ ploughs, 8 acres (32,000 m2) of meadow. It rendered (in total): £2. 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 within the parish of Streatham. Large country retreats for the affluent classes were built there in the 18th 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 and killing 64 people. This particular bomb was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan.
Balham is in the London Borough of Wandsworth and encompasses the A24 north of Tooting Bec and the roads radiating off it. The SW12 postcode, the area served by the Balham post office, includes the southern part of Clapham Park and the Hyde Farm area, both east of Cavendish Road and within Lambeth (historically Clapham, except for Weir Road) as well as a small detached part of Clapham south of Nightingale Lane and part of Battersea (the roads north of Nightingale Lane). 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. The Heaver Estate lies to the south of Balham on its blurred border with Tooting. The Estate mainly comprises substantial houses, was built in the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House and was the work of local Victorian builder, Alfred Heaver.
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.
Balham's town centre has a variety of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, shops and hotels including big name chains served by two car parks, such as 99p Stores, Boots, Caffe Nero, Carphone Warehouse, Fara Charity Shop, Greggs, McDonald's, Nando's, Oddbins, Oliver Bonas, Pizza Express, Santander, Starbucks Coffee, Sainsbury's, T-Mobile, TK Maxx, Travelodge, W.H. Smith, Waitrose and Wetherspoon's.
There is also a preponderance of services including many well known estate agencies including Andrews, Aspire, Atkinson McLeod, Foxtons, Granvilles, Hamptons, Haart, Jacksons, John D Wood & Co, Kinleigh Folkhard & Hayward, Martin & Co, Morgan Randall, Samuel Estates and Winkworth.
The area is also home to several independent stores, coffee houses and brasseries such as As Nature Intended, Balham Bowls Club, The Bedford, Bento, Bunka, Cattle Grid, Chadwicks, The Exhibit, Firefly, Harrison's, Horti-Culture, Lamberts, My Back Pages, Trinity Stores and Whippet. New restaurants and bars due to open, or which have already opened, in 2013 include Poulet Rouge, Franco Manca Pizza, Hagen and Hyde (formerly Blithe Spirit) and Lost & Found.
There are two car parks serving the vicinity, one behind the Sainsbury's (181 spaces) and one in front of Waitrose.
The first Balham Food Festival took place from 10 to 14 July 2011, featuring a range of events including restaurant taster menus, a hog roast and a Jamaican cookery demonstrations. The Food Festival will took place again in 2012 from 15 to 29 July.
Balham has been transformed since the 1980s and the prevalence of the professional middle classes and associated bistros, wine bars, independent shops and Waitrose are visible signs of this. Balham has very much become the stomping ground of the Nappy Valley set. That said, its diversity remains and makes it the vibrant area that it is.
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 draws people from across London. Opposite the White Eagle, the small Polish church is filled to overflowing on a Sunday.
The Bedford is a pub venue for live music and comedy on Bedford Hill; performers at the 'Banana Cabaret' have included Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand and Al Murray. 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. In 1876, the building (then named the "Bedford Hotel") housed the coroners inquest into the notorious unsolved murder of Charles Bravo, a resident and lawyer who was poisoned, possibly by his wife.
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. In 2008, the shop was listed in the Guardian's list of London's finest bookshops but is due to close in 2013.
Du Cane Court is the largest block of flats in Europe built for private occupation rather than as social housing. 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, model/showgirl Christine Keeler, and, currently, comedian and writer Arthur Smith. Scenes from Agatha Christie's Poirot were filmed in the building.
The Bedford Hill area of Balham was associated with street prostitution throughout the 1970s and '80s. The problem has since been eradicated.
Balham has its own library and leisure centre.
Oak Lodge School is a secondary school for deaf children (aged 11 to 19) located in the Balham area. It accepts pupils from all over London.
Balham has a railway/tube interchange station, Balham tube station and Balham railway station, in zone 3. 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 born in Balham
- Percy Fender (1892) Surrey cricket captain, World record holder and England Test all rounder.
- Acoustic duo Turin Brakes.
- John Marco Allegro.
- John Sullivan, writer of Only Fools and Horses was born in Balham.
- Ainsley Harriot, TV chef.
- Jimmy Hill, sport pundit and former footballer.
- Derek Fowlds, television actor (Yes, Minister, Heartbeat (UK TV series))
- Brian Paddick, the candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the 2008 London Mayoral Election.
- Dame Margaret Rutherford, actress.
- Captain Sensible, rock musician (The Damned).
- Matthew Strachan, composer and lyricist.
- Bob and Margaret, cartoon characters
- Eric Maxon, Shakespearean and early film actor
Notable comedians who live in Balham
Ross Luckie, Chris Wright, Luke Fitzpatrick, Sean Nugent, Callum Fitzpatrick
Notable people who used to work in Balham
- Tiggy Legge-Bourke taught at a nursery school in Balham before becoming nanny to Princes William and Harry
- Author DBC Pierre wrote his first novel while living in Balham
- Surrey Domesday Book
- "Store Overview, Balham". Sainsbury's. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- SW Londoner (2012) Retrieved 2012-07-16
- "Banana Cabaret - Events Calendar - The Bedford". www.thebedford.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- "About Us - The Bedford". www.thebedford.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- Classic Crimes - Google Books. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- guardian.co.uk (29 October 2008). "London's finest bookshops". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Museum of London postcodes project
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