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Balham facts for kids

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Balham tube 080120.jpg
Balham High Road
Balham is located in Greater London
Population 14,751 (2011 Census.Ward)
OS grid reference TQ285735
• Charing Cross 4.5 mi (7.2 km) NNE
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW12 and SW17
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Battersea; Tooting
London Assembly
  • Merton and Wandsworth
List of places
51°26′36″N 0°09′09″W / 51.4434°N 0.1525°W / 51.4434; -0.1525

Balham is an area in south London, England, mostly within the London Borough of Wandsworth with small parts within the neighbouring London Borough of Lambeth. The area has been settled since Saxon times and appears in the Domesday Book as Belgeham.


Wandsworth Met. B Ward Map 1916
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. 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

Air Raid Damage in Britain during the Second World War HU36188
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. This particular incident was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan. An image of the aftermath is of the No. 88 bus which had fallen into the bomb crater.


Balham is in Wandsworth and encompasses the A24 north of Tooting Bec and the roads radiating off it. The Balham SW12 postcode includes the southern part of Clapham Park otherwise 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.


Polish Church Balham 180
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.

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.


The Bedford - - 1014297
The Bedford
Du Cane Court 184
Du Cane Court is a distinctive local landmark with its Art Deco design
  • Du Cane Court was the largest block of flats in Europe built for private occupation rather than as social housing at the time. Its 676 flats range from studios up to 4-bedroom penthouses. The block has had a number of notable residents, including comedian Tommy Trinder and actress Dame Margaret Rutherford. Scenes from Agatha Christie's Poirot were filmed in the building.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The world’s first "intelligent" pedestrian crossings have also been trialled at Balham station (including Tooting Bec).
  • For many years Balham was a joke landmark in reference to "Balham, Gateway to the South" a comedy sketch written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, and performed by Peter Sellers in 1958. It compared the area (in postwar austerity) similarly to faraway exotic locations shown in travelogues of the day. The title's origin most probably alludes to a Southern Railway poster "Gateway to the Continent" dating from 1928 by T D Kerr. In 1979 Micky Dolenz of the Monkees directed a short film based on the sketch with Robbie Coltrane playing multiple roles. It was released for broadcast in 1981.


National Rail
London Underground

Balham station is an interchange between National Rail and London Underground services, in London fare zone 3. The stations connect Balham to both the City of London and the West End. Balham Underground station is on the Northern Line.

Clapham South Underground 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.


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. There are two car parks serving the vicinity, one behind the Sainsbury's (181 spaces) and one in front of Waitrose.

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

  • Adele, singer and songwriter, attended Chestnut Grove School.
  • Bob and Margaret, cartoon characters, are former residents.
  • Peter Baynham, screenwriter.
  • Sarah Beeny, property developer, businesswoman and broadcaster is a former resident of Balham.
  • Jack Dee, comedian, actor, writer and producer is a former resident of Balham.
  • Gracie Fields, actress, singer and comedian was a former resident.
  • Stewart Lee, comedian and writer.
  • Malcolm McLaren, band manager, musician and entrepreneur, was a former resident with Vivienne Westwood.
  • Arthur Smith, comedian.
  • Tommy Trinder, comedian and former chairman of Fulham Football Club, was a former resident.
  • Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and businesswoman is a former resident with Malcolm McLaren.
  • DBC Pierre, novelist, was a former resident.
  • Jon Craig, Jon Craig is the Chief Political Correspondent of Sky News

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Balham (Londres) para niños

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