The stretch towards Balham was something of a first and we were impressed with the size of the Singer sewing machine sales and repairs and its companion store ‘Sewing & Craft Superstore’ The jewel of Balham is however Du Cane Court , a splendid Art Deco block or blocks – for many years the rumour was that had Hitler managed to invade and conquer the UK he was planning to set up his HQ here. One of those quirky Radio 4 slots explored the urban legend quite thoroughly and a legend it remains. We cannot pass Balham without reference to the Peter Sellers sketch of 1958.
Living in Balham during the early Seventies it was impossible to escape reference to this well sustained piece of multi voicing pastiche by the unique Mr Sellers. The facts were all totally spurious. Interestingly Balham has become significantly more upmarket since Mr Seller’s day and ours… as the gated community of Hillgate Place would indicate. The ‘Gateway to the South’ is desirable in offering both a train and tube service so close together.
We are quite used to bussing along Clapham Common but it was refreshing to take the South Side route of this excellent triangle shaped green oasis of South London – Mary recommended the Windmill as a venue as a Young’s pub it is well maintained and in a prime position. As the name might indicate it sits close to the site of a former mill.
In spite of the traffic increasing we made good time through the Claphams. Bicycles are also privileged here with their very own fast track blue routes, very newly launched when we passed through.
Stockwell is also a pretty familiar stamping ground for us by now and in fact we are close to finishing the routes in this sector (there being some we had completed earlier) Today we crossed straight over at the Roundabout Shelter and headed up the Clapham Road – both on and off the main road the houses here are very beautiful and often large. This finally gives the chance to mention that Van Gogh lodged at 87 Hackford Road just off to the right heading north during his time working in London for an art dealer.
Close by developers are working on the monumental but still handsome print works, which will become residential property. The nearby White Bear Theatre Company will offer solid entertainment.