Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Areas: Balham (images)

(click here for text)

The goosebumps on returning to the area of my London birthing were minimal. I started at Clapham South tube, designed by Charles Holden and built in 1928, benevolently named for estate agents who want to lie and call the area ‘south Clapham’.

Can’t resist a tube descent shot, and I have always liked the metal, mosaics and fixtures at Clapham South.

Considering we’re in zone 2 not Reigate, the size and scale and it now being a literal front for a Tesco stupidmarket, I always thought you could take or leave these neoclassical former wards of the South London Women’s Hospital (now extended onto the site of the demolished gothic structure next to it).

Down Balham High Road, this was an Odeon cinema on its opening in 1938, but it’s been a booze vendor since at least the time I moved there in 1996. This will not be the only building near which Wandsworth Council planners insist on planting trees, in the belief that suburban Balhamites cant possibly bear to look at modernist structures.

It’s the Duke of Devonshire, the erstwhile ‘Dev’, now renamed as the mere Devonshire. This was where all the problems of alcohol misuse leading to creative and cultural despond started! Twenty yards up is the long established mosque (we fondly called the area ‘Balhamistan’ not as a racist tick but because I was on a Mideast journal at the time). Then there’s ‘AL kebabish’, where my fondness for economical eastern snacks flourished. On that journal, the l in Al would have been lower case, the K upper case and the whole hyphenated. Standards, guys!

Then the property speculators came, making out that househunters could only understand the process as an ‘experience’ akin to being in a trendy bar. Knobheads. And I haven’t even mentioned the minis.

Balham market is no longer a market. It’s a highly optimized consumer space. There’s bars and cafes. And some more bars and cafes, and probably an expensive babywear store too.

Through its Banana Cabaret (never went but saw Arthur Smith in the Dev once or twice, drinking not performing), the Bedford has a reputation as one of the founders of the live comedy boom, but it is also a massive weekend meatmarket.

The Exhibit has a reputation for being an award-winning independent cinema space, but it’s also a massive weekend meatmarket.

That’s another Holden tube. Dead handy for Surrey and the City.

And just south en route to Tooting is the prestigious Du Cane Court, with the prospect again sullied by too much foliage.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day, I was just looking for a reminder of the Duke of Devonshire and found the images of Balham intriguing and thought I'd add a comment. I worked in Balham Market ( aka Hildreth Street Market ) in the early sixties. Then it was a very busy place , butchers shops abounded , would you believe 5 , a couple of fish shops , Mac Fisheries & Broadway fisheries. Many fruit and veg stalls , one fresh fish stall, ( prop Horace Spooner ) , fish'n' chips ? , yes , welcome to Frankie's Place !!
At the rear of the Duke there was a rented area which then was a smoke hole , 'twas there that the chats , cod fillets , haddock fillets , herrings were smoked and then sold at Broadway Fisheries. Part of my job was taking a two wheeled barrow along the main road from Broadway fisheries to the Duke and returning laden with the goods. I also filleted the whole cod , plaice , haddock and skinned the dogfish and skate , all for less than a tender a week !!

4:09 am  
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