🕊️ Balham Underground Station Memorial: Honoring the Tragic Past, Celebrating Resilience 🕊️

In the heart of Balham, South London, lies an unassuming yet poignant memorial that serves as a powerful reminder of a tragic event and a testament to the strength and resilience of a community – the Balham Underground Station Memorial. Located within the station itself, this solemn tribute stands as a lasting memorial to the lives lost during a devastating incident that occurred during World War II.

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The Blitz

On the evening of October 14, 1940, Balham Underground Station was hit by a German bomb during the Blitz. The explosion caused a section of the street to collapse into the station, resulting in a catastrophic loss of life. Many civilians seeking shelter in the depths of the underground were caught in the chaos and tragedy that unfolded that fateful night.

The Memorial

The Balham Underground Station Memorial stands as a testament to the lives affected by this horrific event. It serves as a place of reflection, allowing visitors to pay their respects to the victims and honour the resilience of the Balham community in the face of adversity.

The memorial itself is a simple yet powerful representation of remembrance. It features a black granite plaque adorned with the names of those who lost their lives, providing a tangible connection to the individuals who tragically perished in the incident. The plaque serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of war and the impact it had on local communities.

Surrounded by the bustling activity of the underground station, the memorial serves as a tranquil space for contemplation and reflection. It stands as a stark contrast to the rush and noise of daily life, inviting visitors to pause, pay their respects, and acknowledge the shared history and resilience of the Balham community.

The Balham Underground Station Memorial not only commemorates the lives lost but also acts as a symbol of unity and the indomitable spirit of the human will. It serves as a reminder that even in the face of tragedy, communities can come together, support one another, and rebuild stronger than before.

As we reflect on the significance of the Balham Underground Station Memorial, we honour the memory of those who lost their lives and recognise the strength and resilience of the Balham community. The memorial serves as a poignant reminder that, even in the darkest of times, hope and unity can prevail.

Inclusion in the movie Atonement

The critically acclaimed film “Atonement” directed by Joe Wright, based on Ian McEwan’s novel, captivated audiences with its powerful storytelling and stunning cinematography. While the movie primarily takes place during World War II, one notable scene resonates with the historical significance of Balham Underground Station.

The inclusion of the Balham Underground Station incident in “Atonement” adds a poignant layer of historical realism to the narrative, emphasising the devastating impact of war on individuals and communities. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made and the resilience displayed during one of the darkest periods in history. Through this cinematic portrayal, “Atonement” pays homage to the real-life events that unfolded at Balham Underground Station and sheds light on the human experiences that are often overshadowed by larger historical events.

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Visiting the Balham Underground Station Memorial offers an opportunity to pay tribute to the lives affected by the tragic events of the past and to reflect on the enduring spirit of resilience that continues to shape and define the Balham community today. Let us remember, honour, and carry the lessons of the past forward, ensuring that the memory of those affected remains alive and that their stories are never forgotten. 🕊️🙏🏽✨

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco, a captivating art style that emerged in France on the cusp of World War I, transcended traditional boundaries and left an indelible mark on the visual arts, architecture, and design. Its influence permeated every facet of life, from the sleek lines of furniture to the exquisite craftsmanship of jewellery.

As this artistic movement crossed the Atlantic and captivated America in the early 1920s, it became synonymous with the vibrant spirit of the roaring twenties. The opulence and grandeur of Art Deco resonated with the era’s exuberance, embodying a sense of sophistication and celebration. However, with the onset of the economic depression in the early 1930s, the style gradually evolved into a more pragmatic and streamlined form, adapting to the changing times while retaining its distinct allure.

Rooted in the organic evolution of the Art Nouveau style, Art Deco shares many similarities with its predecessor. Both styles exhibit a penchant for rich ornamentation and intricate detailing. However, where Art Nouveau embraced flowing, natural curves, Art Deco boldly embraces strong geometric patterns and bold lines, creating a sense of dynamism and precision.

The evolution of Art Deco is evident in its material choices. Early manifestations often showcased the opulence of gold and silver, reflecting the prevailing taste for luxury. Later iterations, in response to shifting social and economic landscapes, adopted a more subdued palette with the prominent use of steel, chrome, and plastic. This shift marked a turning point in the history of architecture, laying the foundation for modernist principles and forging a new era of design.

Known for its bold geometric shapes, symmetrical lines, and ornate details, Art Deco represents a fusion of modernity and luxury. Among the remarkable architectural exemplars of this iconic style stands Du Cane Court, an exceptional residential building in Balham, London. Built in the 1930s, Du Cane Court showcases the quintessential elements of Art Deco, from its symmetrical façade adorned with geometric motifs to the elegant use of materials such as brick, metal, and glass. With its impressive scale, meticulous attention to detail, and a wealth of original features, Du Cane Court stands as a testament to the grandeur and enduring appeal of Art Deco architecture. It is an architectural gem that captures the spirit of an era and continues to mesmerise admirers with its timeless beauty.

Join us on a captivating journey through time as we delve into the world of Art Deco. Explore its intricate details, marvel at its geometric symphony, and uncover the echoes of a bygone era that still resonate in our modern aesthetic sensibilities. Step into the allure of Art Deco, where elegance, influence, and modernity converge in a symphony of artistry and craftsmanship.

🚇 Remembering the Tragedy: The Balham Tube Station Disaster 🚇

On 14 October 1940 at 8.02pm a 1400 kilo semi armour piercing bomb penetrated 32 feet underground and exploded just above the cross passage between the two platforms in Balham station, while above ground a number 88 bus, travelling in blackout conditions, plunged into the crater created. The dramatic spectacle was newsworthy and pictures circulated around the world some of which can be viewed here.

On the fateful night of October 14, 1940, Balham Tube station in London became the site of a devastating disaster that forever left its mark on the city’s history. As World War II raged on, the city’s residents sought refuge in the Underground network, using the stations as shelters from the relentless bombings. However, that night, tragedy struck Balham, highlighting the immense challenges faced by civilians during wartime.

As bombs fell above ground, a direct hit on a nearby house caused a catastrophic collapse, leading to the collapse of the road surface and the subsequent penetration of the station’s roof. In a matter of moments, chaos and panic ensued as the unsuspecting shelterers found themselves trapped amidst the rubble and darkness below ground.

The disaster claimed the lives of over 60 people and left countless others injured, traumatised, and forever scarred by the events of that night. Rescue efforts were launched immediately, with brave individuals risking their lives to save survivors and recover the bodies of those who perished. The heroic acts of the emergency services and volunteers demonstrated the resilience and unity of the community in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

The Balham Tube station disaster highlighted the harsh realities of war and the vulnerability of civilian populations during times of conflict. It served as a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by ordinary people, seeking shelter and safety in the Underground network while facing the relentless threat of bombings.

Today, a memorial stands at Balham Tube station, serving as a poignant reminder of the lives lost and the resilience of the community. It is a place of remembrance, where visitors can pay their respects and reflect on the tragic events that unfolded on that fateful night.

The disaster at Balham Tube station remains a significant chapter in London’s history, a somber reminder of the profound impact of war on civilian life. It serves as a testament to the strength and resilience of the people, and the importance of commemorating those who lost their lives in the pursuit of safety and peace.

Let us remember the victims of the Balham Tube station disaster, honor their memory, and strive to build a world where tragedies like these become a thing of the past.

 

Don’t live in Beautiful Art Deco Du Cane Court but want to see inside?

The wonders of technology and social media mean many of the residents of Du Cane Court have shared pictures of the inside of this stunning 1930’s building on Balham High Road in South London.

From the wonders of the balustrades to the original art deco features.

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Even the utilitarian stairwells have some lovely touches and flourishes.

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And why do so many people want to live here? Well, the views and sunsets are unrivalled in south London.

This ladies, gentlemen and those not defined by gender is why so many people want to live in this amazing art deco block of flats in south London.

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A brief History of Du Cane Court

It has featured in property programmes on television; and has benefited from a wide compass of residents and visitors, who, in the fullness of time, have spread the news about what it is like to live there.
The building was erected between 1935 and 1938, and has pleasing curves and metal window-frames, similar to those designed by Walter Crittall to replace the wooden sash variety, – although the old frames are now being slowly replaced. The design also included a stylish restaurant, a bar, and a club with extensive facilities. Originally, there were also plans for squash courts and a children’s crèche area, as well as roof gardens. Indeed, people remember sunbathing on the roof. The building has changed a lot over the years, but it still has a beautiful foyer and attractive Japanese gardens, landscaped by Seyemon Kusumoto; and, at the time of its completion, it had the distinction of being probably the largest block of privately-owned flats under one roof in Europe. All of the companies involved in its construction were researched for the book, and an account is given as to how this edifice – encompassing around 676 flats – reflected a period of architectural history.
Read more at Time & Leisure or the expanded History of Du Cane Court here.

Big in Balham

Inside Du Cane Court, an art deco gem in London’s Balham and the property manager who keeps the iconic 1930’s block running smoothly in the modern world.

The article on Flat-Living.co.uk titled “Big in Balham” provides an insightful overview of the Balham area in London. It highlights the neighbourhood’s popularity and desirability among residents and visitors alike. Balham is praised for its excellent transport links, making it easily accessible to central London and other parts of the city. The article emphasises the area’s vibrant atmosphere, with a bustling high street filled with an array of shops, cafes, and restaurants. It also mentions the presence of green spaces such as Tooting Common and Wandsworth Common, offering opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation. The article further explores the diverse range of properties available in Balham, catering to different lifestyles and preferences. Additionally, it discusses the strong sense of community in the area, with various events and initiatives bringing residents together. Overall, the article provides valuable insights into the appeal of Balham as a sought-after neighborhood in London, known for its convenience, amenities, and vibrant community spirit.

Read the full article at Flat Living

Arthur Smith on Balham – Time Out

Comedian, star of TV’s Grumpy Old Men and Balham’s most famous resident, Arthur Smith has graced SW12 with his presence for over 20 years. In July 2008, he recorded a series of comedy and music shows, ‘Arthur Smith’s Balham Bash’, from his flat for BBC Radio 4
Read more at Time Out

The article on Timeout.com features Arthur Smith’s perspective on Balham, providing a glimpse into the comedian’s personal connection and experiences with the neighborhood. Arthur Smith, known for his wit and humor, shares his affection for Balham, describing it as a place with a unique character and charm. He reminisces about the local landmarks, such as the Bedford pub, and the vibrant atmosphere of Balham’s high street. The article captures Smith’s fondness for the community spirit in Balham, highlighting the mix of residential and commercial spaces that contribute to its appeal. Overall, the article offers a lighthearted and entertaining take on Balham through the eyes of Arthur Smith, providing readers with a glimpse into the neighbourhood’s distinctive character and its impact on the comedian.




13. Skips

Section 13 – SKIPS

A skip is provided for the use of residents at the rear of the garages for disposal of larger household items that cannot be accommodated by the chutes. Please note this is not for builders’ debris nor old kitchen/bathroom units and carpets when refurbishment is taking place. These should all be removed by your contractors or by you to the local authority tip.

Should you wish to be able to use your own skip during refurbishment works, please contact the Estate Office for further information.

Du Cane Court Guide for Owners and Tenants

Download the full Du Cane Court Guide for owners and tenants October 2015

Please be aware that the information provided here is based on data from October 2015 and has been automatically generated using optical character recognition from the Du Cane Court Guide for Owners and Tenants PDF. As a result, there might be minor errors in the content.

A History of Du Cane Court: Land, Architecture, People and Politics





A synopsis of the book

Du Cane Court is a popular art deco block of flats in Balham, one which, has become known both near and far. It has featured in property programmes and crime dramas on television and has had a variety of residents and visitors.
To compile the book, the author visited various libraries, accessed the Register of Electors, examined the council records, and interviewed long-term residents – including several who arrived in ‘the Court’ before or during the war, and even one who provided an insight into what it was like to grow up there in the 1950s. Furthermore, a whole host of articles and books were referenced, which served to authenticate the narrative. Time has even been spent studying the entire microfiche history of the company responsible for the block, the Central London Property Trust; and in recording an intimate portrait of the architect himself, Mr George Kay Green, through conversations with his affable son, Charles, who has since passed away.

The building was erected between 1935 and 1938, and has pleasing curves and metal window-frames, similar to those designed by Walter Crittall to replace the wooden sash variety, – although the old frames are now being slowly replaced. The design also included a stylish restaurant, a bar, and a club with extensive facilities. Originally, there were also plans for squash courts and a children’s crèche area, as well as roof gardens. Indeed, people remember sunbathing on the roof. The building has changed a lot over the years, but it still has a beautiful foyer and attractive Japanese gardens, landscaped by Seyemon Kusumoto; and, at the time of its completion, it had the distinction of being probably the largest block of privately-owned flats under one roof in Europe. All of the companies involved in its construction were researched for the book, and an account is given as to how this edifice – encompassing around 676 flats – reflected a period of architectural history.

There are many famous individuals who were reputedly there – actresses Margaret Rutherford, Elizabeth Sellars and Hermione Gingold; comedians Tommy Trinder, Derek Roy, and Richard Hearne alias ‘Mr Pastry’; band leaders Harry Roy and Harry Leader, and also most of the Tiller Girls; cricketer Andy Sandham, and table-tennis ace, Ernest Bubley. Today, ‘the Court’ numbers Arthur Smith and Christopher Luscombe amongst its theatrical celebrities – both of whom were interviewed at length.

The history documents how the building derived its name, tracing the history of a family of Huguenots called the Du Canes, who left France and became successful landowners in England; and readers will also discover what was on the estate before the arrival of Du Cane Court. This included several buildings. Of special interest was a doctor’s family home, complete with extensive grounds containing tennis courts. Indeed, one of the doctor’s descendents vividly describes a bygone way of life.

There are some wonderful legends about Du Cane Court. It is said, for instance, that Hitler intended to use it for his headquarters when he invaded Britain; and that the German Luftwaffe may have found it helpful as a navigational aid – for, in spite of its size, the estate appears to have survived World War 11 completely unscathed. It is also rumoured that the building was once a hotbed of spies.

In 1971 the Tenants’ Association was founded, and the ensuing decades saw a mixture of noble aspirations and conflicts of interest take root within it. There are endearing stories of community spirit; and some sad exceptions, where residents cannot stomach each other’s company or each other’s noise. There have been battles with the landlords, or their representative managers, on account of the considerable service charge expenses – and the disturbing flat conversions which they have been responsible for. Certain disputes have even reached the courtroom.

Other events have included what was, perhaps, the first invasion of pharaoh ants in a London block of flats; and a dramatic boiler explosion in the basement, from which a visiting engineer sustained horrific injuries, even though the rest of the building was unaffected.
‘The Court’ and its people continue to evolve. The faces at the desk have changed over the years; and our celebrated resident, Arthur Smith, has opened the Balham festival on at least two occasions. This history shows how the life within these walls relates to that of the community at large.
There are innumerable illustrations: photographs of famous residents, pictures of the building taken recently and in the 1930s, original architectural plans, and interesting letters. A few cartoons have even been drawn to highlight the comical side of life at Du Cane Court. And, if they are not enough to raise a smile, the book has various quaint stories of eccentrics and elderly people making their mark.

Lastly, there are the pros and cons of attempting to gain the freehold, and of getting the building listed; and an assessment of what the future may hold, and of the measures which might be taken to further improve an environment which is already, most of the time at least, a pleasant place to call your home.
Available to purchase in paperback or download to an iPad or a Kindle e-reader, the e-book is also available on  Amazon.



A History of Du Cane Court: Land, Architecture, People and Politics Paperback – 10 May 2008

A book is available on an imposing ‘art deco’ building in Balham, Wandsworth, – which was alleged to be the largest block of privately owned flats under one roof in Europe when it was built. The book has a colourful cover composed of variegated ‘windows’ into the life and characters of the estate. It is 279 pages long, and includes 104 pages of black and white illustrations.
Buy it on Amazon, in Balham Library or any bookstore (by quoting ISBN 978095416751-6). The author may be contacted  at [email protected]
Download to an iPad or a Kindle e-reader, the e-book is also available on  Amazon.