The name derives from the Du Cane family who were landowners in the eighteenth century and on whose land the building was constructed. It has mellowed gracefully over the years, its former grandeur now almost camouflaging neatly into Balham High Road – but not quite.
Central heating, constant hot water, water softener and a radio with a choice of two programmes were basic features. A large restaurant held regular dinner dances and the licensed club offered membership at 5/- per annum. A shop on the premises and helpful porters to assist with the luggage and the occasional repairs to electrical appliances meant it was not really necessary to leave the building at all.
Du Cane Court was used to house part of the civil service during the war, chosen for it’s quick and easy links into the city. Surprisingly it was never bombed despite the station and parts of Balham High Road becoming target practice. In 1940 Balham tube station was involved in bombing raids that led to 64 people who took cover in the tube station being killed when a bomb burst water and gas mains. This particular bomb was featured in Atonement, a 2001 novel by Ian McEwan which later was to become a film in 2007 starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightly. There is also a memorial artwork on Balham Station Road.
A new book is now available on the imposing art deco building in Balham, which was reckoned to be the largest block of privately owned flats under one roof in Europe when it was built. Many famous comedians and theatrical celebrities have been part of the community living at Du Cane including Tommy Trinder, Derek Roy, Margaret Rutherford, Elizabeth Sellars and Harry Leader.
You can buy A History of Du Cane Court: Land, Architecture, People and Politics by Gregory Vincent in the reception of Du Cane Court, Balham High Road or from Balham Library or online from amazon.co.uk