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For other uses, see Balham (disambiguation).
Balham tube 080120.jpg
Balham High Road
Balham is located in Greater London
 Balham shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ285735
   – Charing Cross 4.5 mi (7.2 km)  NNE
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
Lambeth and Southwark
List of places

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

Balham /ˈbæləm/ is a neighbourhood of south London, England, part in the London Borough of Wandsworth and part in the London Borough of Lambeth.


A map showing the Balham ward of Wandsworth Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.

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.[1] 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.

Second World War air raid[edit]

Air raid damage in Balham

On 14 October 1940 Balham tube station was badly damaged by air raids on London during World War II. People took shelter in the tube station during the raids. A bomb fell in the High Road and through the roof of the Underground station below, bursting water and gas mains and killing around 64 people.[2] This particular incident was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan.[3][4] An image of the aftermath is of the No. 88 bus which had fallen into the bomb crater.[5][6]


Balham is in the London Borough of Wandsworth and encompasses the A24 north of Tooting Bec and the roads radiating off it. However, a small percentage of this district is in the London Borough of Lambeth as the road Bedford Hill is also in the borough of Lambeth as another road called Cavendish Road is also in Balham as well as Clapham, a district in the borough of Lambeth which is why if you go towards the east side of Balham, you will notice that there are some roads in the London borough of Wandsworth have exactly the same names in the London borough of Lambeth.The SW12 postcode, the area served by the Balham post office, includes the southern part of Clapham Park or known as Clapham South 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 Art Deco 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 in 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.

Other nearby areas include Tooting, Streatham, Brixton, Battersea, Wandsworth Common, Clapham South or the southern part of Clapham Park.


Balham's town centre has a variety of bars, restaurants and shops including major chains. There are also local services, including independent stores, coffee houses and brasseries.[7] There are two car parks serving the vicinity, one behind the Sainsbury's (181 spaces)[8] and one in front of Waitrose.


The Polish Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King

Balham is diverse both in terms of economic and cultural demographics with an increasingly professional middle class population.[9]

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 is The Polish Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King.

The Irish, Portuguese, Somali, Pakistani and Brazilian communities are also well represented.


Du Cane Court is a distinctive local landmark with its Art Deco design
In 1876, the pub 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.[14] The Priory, where the alleged murder took place, is also a landmark noted for the specific architectural style.[15]
  • The Bedford Hill area of Balham was associated with street prostitution throughout the 1970s and '80s. The problem has since been eradicated.[16]
  • 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 its own library and leisure centre.[20][21]
  • The UK's first pedestrian diagonal X-crossing was pioneered at the intersection with Balham High Road, Balham Station Road, and Chestnut Grove in 2005. This was later adopted at Oxford Circus in 2009 which was the second X-crossing in the UK.[22][23]


National Rail
London Underground

Balham has a railway/tube interchange station, Balham tube station and Balham railway station, in London fare zone 3. The stations connect Balham to both the City of London and the West End.

Clapham South tube station is also technically in Balham, lying exactly at the meeting point of Clapham, Battersea and Balham.

Current bus routes serving the area are the 155, 249, 255, 315, 355 and N155,[29]

Notable people born in Balham[edit]

Notable people who used to work, study or live in Balham[edit]


  1. ^ Surrey Domesday Book
  2. ^ "14th October 1940: Disaster at Balham Tube station". 
  3. ^ "Atonement by Ian McEwan". the Guardian. 
  4. ^ John Mullan. "Atonement: metanarrative". the Guardian. 
  5. ^ "London Blitz: Bomb Sight interactive map created". BBC News. 
  6. ^ Halley Docherty. "Second world war in Google Street View". the Guardian. 
  7. ^ "Listings -". 
  8. ^ "Store Overview, Balham". Sainsbury's. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Balham Demographics (Wandsworth, England)". 
  10. ^ "About". 
  11. ^ "About Us". 
  12. ^ "And the winners are". 
  13. ^ "Comedians, khachapuri and chippies: it’s Balham’s best bits". Time Out Blog. 
  14. ^ "The Bedford Public House, Balham". 
  15. ^ "London’s Balham: from murder mystery to haven for high-flyers". Financial Times. 
  16. ^ "Prostitution clampdown hailed a success". Your Local Guardian. 
  17. ^ "Du Cane Court » Balham High Road » London » SW17". 
  18. ^ "Du Cane Court » Balham High Road » London » SW17". 
  19. ^ "On Location with Poirot - The Plymouth Express". 
  20. ^ "Balham Leisure Centre". 
  21. ^ Balham Library
  22. ^ Wandsworth Borough Council "Regeneration and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee" Report 2002
  23. ^ Wandsworth Borough Council “Regeneration and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee" Report 2005
  24. ^ "'Intelligent' pedestrian crossings trialled in London". BBC News. 
  25. ^ Transport for London, Windsor House, 42-50 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0TL, "TfL to launch world-leading trials of intelligent pedestrian technology to make crossing the road easier and safer". 
  26. ^ "Gateway - Southern Posters". 
  27. ^ "Balham: Gateway to the South (1979)". BFI. 
  28. ^ TV Cream - Balham - Gateway to the South
  29. ^ Buses to Balham
  30. ^ "Grammy Winner Adele inspires Chesnut Grove students". Local Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  31. ^ a b "Booming Balham". 12 January 2004. 
  32. ^ Help! Sarah Beeny wants to dig a 'mega basement' near us
  33. ^ "Jack on Jack: When Dee met Whitehall". The Evening Standard. 
  34. ^ "149 High Road, Balham". The Official Gracie Fields. 
  35. ^ "Westwood opposes plan to build flats on roof of her old home". The Evening Standard. 

External links[edit]