Balham tube station

Balham station consists of two adjacent stations (a London Underground station and a National Rail station) located in the Balham area of south London, England. The station is located on the A24 Balham High Road in the London Borough of Wandsworth, and is in Travelcard Zone 3.

The two stations are interconnected, albeit owned and operated separately, with separate ticket-issuing facilities and gatelines.

National Rail station

Coordinates: 51°26′33″N 0°09′07″W / 51.4426°N 0.152°W / 51.4426; -0.152

The National Rail station at Balham, which is managed by Southern is located on the Brighton Main Line, four stops south of London Victoria. Although on a north-south route, the tracks pass through Balham on an approximately east-west axis, with Victoria towards the west.

The tracks are on an embankment and access to the platforms is via an underpass beneath them. There are four tracks and four platforms, although only two are regularly used in service. Just beyond the south/east end of the station, the line divides into two branches. One branch is the Brighton Main Line, continuing towards East Croydon, with the other heading towards Crystal Palace. Further south, there is another branch which heads towards Mitcham Junction and Sutton. Between Balham and Mitcham Junction, a new station at Mitcham Eastfields was opened in 2008.


The West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway opened a station nearby named Balham Hill on 1 December 1856, when the line ran from Crystal Palace to Wandsworth Common. From the outset the line was worked by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway which purchased the line in 1859, after it had been extended to Battersea Wharf. Balham Hill station was resited by the LB&SCR to its present location during 1863 as part of works to widen the line, and improve the route between East Croydon and Victoria. It was known initially as Balham and Upper Tooting. Further remodelling of the line and was undertaken in 1890 and 1897 to increase capacity.

The lines through the station to Crystal Palace were electrified in 1910, by means of the LB&SCR 'Elevated Electric' overhead system. Work on electrifing the remaining services through the station had begun in 1913 but was interrupted by the First World War and not completed until 1925. By this time the LB&SCR was absorbed into the Southern Railway following the 1921 Railways Act.

In 1925 the Southern Railway decided to adopt a third rail electirication system and the lines through the station were converted between June 1928 and September 1929.

When sectorisation was introduced in the 1980s, the national rail lines were served by Network SouthEast until the privatisation of the British Railways.

Upon privatisation in the 1990s, the national rail lines came under the Connex South Central franchise, which was replaced by the current operator in 2000.


All services are operated by Southern. While the station is physically on the Brighton Main Line, train services form part of the South London Lines and the Sutton & Mole Valley Lines. To the north, trains operate to London Victoria via Clapham Junction; and Milton Keynes Central via Kensington (Olympia) and Watford Junction.

To the south and east, typical destinations include London Bridge via Crystal Palace, Croydon stations (West Croydon and East Croydon), Caterham, Epsom Downs and Sutton.

  • The main line station
  • Up Main platform in 1961

  • The view in 1982

London Underground station

The station opened on 6 December 1926 as part of the Morden extension of the City & South London Railway (although the line had opened slightly earlier, on 13 September 1926), which later became part of the Northern Line. The Station is located on the Northern Line between Clapham South and Tooting Bec stations. It has entrances on the east and west sides of Balham High Road linked by a pedestrian subway. The surface buildings were designed by the architect Charles Holden. It is the only station on the Morden branch of the Northern line with an interchange to a National Rail station of the same name.

World War II

During the Second World War, Balham was one of many deep tube stations designated for use as a civilian air raid shelter. At 20:02 on 14 October 1940, a 1400 kg semi-armour piercing fragmentation bomb fell on the road above the northern end of the platform tunnels, causing a large crater into which a bus then crashed. The northbound platform tunnel partially collapsed and was filled with earth and water from the fractured water mains and sewers above, which also flowed through the cross-passages into the southbound platform tunnel, with the flooding and debris reaching to within 100 yards of Clapham South. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), sixty-six people in the station were killed – although some sources report 68 – and more than seventy injured. The damage at track level closed the line to traffic between Tooting Bec and Clapham Common, but was quickly repaired, with the closed section and station being reopened on 12 January 1941. In October 2000 a memorial plaque commemorating this event was placed in the station's ticket hall. It stated that 64 lives were lost, which differed from the CWGC register at the time, and other sources. On 14 October 2010 this was replaced with a new commemorative plaque which did not give the number of fatalities.

In popular culture

The video for the single Missing by Everything But the Girl repeatedly uses the same shot from a moving vehicle passing between the two tube entrance buildings, while in another shot Tracey Thorn is seen walking down the side of one of them.

The bombing of the station during World War II is briefly mentioned in Ian McEwan's novel Atonement, while the film based on the book depicts the station's flooding. Both the novel and the film date the event incorrectly, with the novel placing it in September 1940, and the film dating it as 15 October rather than the previous day.

Transports links

London Bus routes 155, 249, 315, 355 and Night routes N155 serve the station and its surrounding area.


2 photos

Building Activity

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