Balham is a district in south London in the London Borough of Wandsworth. The settlement appears within the Domesday Book as Belgeham. Bal means ‘rounded enclosure’ and ham a homestead, village or river enclosure. The location has been settled since Saxon times, and Balham Hill and Balham High Road follow the line of the Roman road Stane Street to Chichester.
Balham encompasses the A24 north of Tooting Bec as well as the roads coming off it. The southern area of Balham which is close to Tooting Bec includes a block of 1930s Art Deco flats known as Du Cane Court. There is also the Heaver Estate which is in Tooting, which comprises substantial houses. It was constructed in the grounds of the old Bedford Hill House by local Victorian builder Alfred Heaver.
Balham lies in between 4 south London commons, namely Clapham Common to the north, Wandsworth Common to the west, Tooting Graveney Common to the south and also the connecting Tooting Bec to the east.
During WWII, on 14th October 1940, Balham tube station was badly affected by air raids on London. Individuals sheltered in the tube station through the raids, but a bomb fell in the High Road and through the rooftop of the Underground station, bursting a water and gas mains and killing about 64 people. Ian McEwan describes the event as part of his novel ‘Atonement’, published in 2001.