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Streatham ( ) is a place in the London Borough of Lambethmarker in the United Kingdommarker. It is an inner-London suburb situated south of Brixtonmarker. Streatham is 5.5 miles (8.8 km) south of Charing Crossmarker. The town centre is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.


Streatham means "the hamlet on the street". The street in question, the London to Brighton Way, was the Roman Road from the capital Londiniummarker to the coast near Portslademarker. It is likely that the destination was a Roman port now lost to coastal erosion, which has been tentatively identified with the 'Novus Portus' mentioned in Ptolemy's Geographia. The road is confusingly referred to as Stane Street in some sources, although it diverges from the main London-Chichester road at Kenningtonmarker.

After the departure of the Romans, the main road through Streatham remained an important trackway. From the seventeenth century it was adopted as the main coach road to Croydonmarker and East Grinsteadmarker, and then on to Newhavenmarker and Lewesmarker. In 1780 it then became the route of the turnpike road from London to Brightonmarker, and subsequently became the basis for the modern A23marker. This road (and its traffic) have shaped Streatham's development.

Streatham's first parish church, St Leonard's, dates back to Saxon times, although only the mediaeval tower remains in the present church. The mediaeval parish covered an extensive area, including most of modern Balham and parts of Tootingmarker.

Streatham appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Estreham. It was held by Bec-Hellouin Abbey (in Normandy) from Richard de Tonbrige. Its domesday assets were: 2 hide and 1 virgates; 6½ ploughs, of meadow, and herbage. It rendered £4 5s 0d.

The village remained largely unchanged until the 18th century, when the village's natural springs, known as Streatham Wells, were first celebrated for their health giving properties. The reputation of the spa, and improved turnpike roads, attracted wealthy City of Londonmarker merchants and others to lay out their country residences in Streatham. Few of these large houses still remain, as the area was rapidly urbanised as London expanded.

Streatham Park or Streatham Place

In the 1730s, Streatham Parkmarker, a Georgian country mansion, was built by the brewer Ralph Thrale on land he bought from the Lord of the Manor - the fourth Duke of Bedford. Streatham Park later passed to Ralph's son Henry Thrale, who with his wife Hester Thrale entertained many of the leading literary and artistic characters of the day, most notably the lexicographer Samuel Johnson. The dining room contained 12 portraits of Henry's guests painted by his friend Joshua Reynolds. These pictures were wittily labelled by Fanny Burney as the Streatham Worthies.

Streatham Park was later leased to Prime Minister Lord Shelburne, and was the venue for early negotiations with France that lead to the Peace Treaty of 1783. Streatham Park was demolished in 1863.

Park Hill

One large house which survives is Park Hill, on the north side of Streatham Commonmarker, rebuilt in the early 19th century for the Leaf family. It was latterly the home of Sir Henry Tate, sugar refiner, benefactor of local libraries across south London, and founder of the Tate Gallerymarker at Millbankmarker.


Development accelerated after the opening of Streatham Hill railway stationmarker on the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway in 1856. The other two railway stations followed within fifteen years.Some estates, such as Telford Park to the west of Streatham Hill were spaciously planned with facilities such as tennis clubs. Despite the local connections to the Dukes of Bedford, there is no link to the contemporary Bedford Parkmarker in west London. Another generously sized development was Roupell Park, the area near Christchurch Road promoted by the Roupell family. Other streets adopted more conventional suburban layouts.Three more parish churches were built to serve the growing area, including Immanuel and St Andrews (1854), St Peter (1870) and St Margaret the Queen (1889).There is now a mixture of buildings from all architectural eras of the past 200 years.

The inter-war period

Between the First World War and the Second World War Streatham developed as location for entertainment, with Streatham Hill Theatre (now a bingo hall), three cinemas, the Locarno ballroom (now Caesar's nightclub) and Streatham Ice Rink all adding to its reputation as "the West End of South London". With the advent of electric tram services it also grew as a shopping centre serving a wide area to the south. In the 1930s large numbers of apartment blocks were constructed along the High Road. These speculative developments were not initially successful. They were only filled when émigré communities began to arrive in London after leaving countries under the domination of Hitler's Germanymarker. In 1932 the parish church of the Holy Redeemer was built in Streatham Vale to commemorate the work of William Wilberforce.

Retail decline and recovery

Pratts department store in summer 1978
In the 1950s Streatham had the longest and busiest shopping street in south London. Streatham was the site of the first Waitrose supermarket, which opened in 1955. However a combination of factors led to a gradual decline through the 1970s and a more rapid decline in the 1980s. These included long term population movements out to Croydonmarker, Kingstonmarker and Suttonmarker; the growth of heavy traffic on the A23marker (main road from central London to Gatwick Airport and Brightonmarker), and a lack of redevelopment sites in the town centre. This culminated in 1990 when the closure of Pratts - a department store, which had grown from a Victorian draper's shop, and had been operated since the 1940s by the John Lewis Partnership - coincided with the opening of a large Sainsbury'smarker supermarket 1 km south of the town centre, replacing an old, smaller Sainbury's store opposite Streatham Hill stationmarker.

More recently Sainsbury's opened a smaller 'Local' branches on the High Road and on Streatham Hill, near the site of the Streatham's first Sainsbury store (opened in 1895). The company also has offices in Streatham. Other fairly recent additions, such as Argos, are located on the site of Pratts' (see above) but the retail recovery has been slow, and vacant space has been taken by a growing number of restaurants and bars. The High Road's Woolworths store, closed late on 27 December, 2008, when the company ceased trading.

Contemporary Streatham

Streatham Green
Streatham is a place of contrasts, with middle class families occupying houses in leafy streets that fetch over £500,000 while there are large amounts of asylum seekers, predominantly from north and east African countries.

In September 2002, Streatham High Roadmarker was voted the "Worst Street in Britain" in a poll organised by the BBC Today programme and CABE. This largely reflected the dominance of through traffic along the High Road. On a positive note this was a catalyst for Lambeth Councilmarker and Transport for London's Street Management to start co-operating, and there is now a joint funding arrangement for ongoing streetscape improvements, although spending has been slowed because of TfL's budgetary shortfall.

Investment and regeneration had begun before the poll, with local amenity group The Streatham Society leading a successful partnership bid for funding from central government for environmental improvements. Work started in winter 2003-04 with the refurbishment of Streatham Green and repaving and relighting of the High Road. In 2005 Streatham Green won the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association 'London Spade' award for best public open space scheme in the capital.

Streatham Festival was founded in 2002. Now in its sixth year, it is a two-week festival with over 50 events held in an array of locations, from bars to churches and parks to youth centres, attracting over 3,000 people.

Famous Streathamites

The only official English Heritage blue plaque in central Streatham is on the childhood home of composer Sir Arnold Bax in Pendennis Road. Just within the modern boundaries of Streatham Hill, although historically it was in Norwoodmarker, there is also a blue plaque on the house in Lanercost Road where Arthur Mee the writer of Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopedia lived.

Perhaps because of its good late night transport connections to the West End, and the availability of apartments as well as family houses, Streatham and nearby Brixton Hillmarker have attracted entertainers to live in the area since the days of Music Hall.

There is a Streatham Society plaque to the birthplace of comedian Tommy Trinder at 54 Wellfield Road. Others with local connections include actors Roger Moore, Simon Callow, Peter Davison, Nicholas Clay, Neil Pearson and June Whitfield, saucy seaside postcard artist Donald McGill and alternative comedians Eddie Izzard, Jeremy Hardy and Paul Merton.

Naomi Campbell, the archetypal supermodel, went to Dunraven Comprehensive School in Streatham and lived in the nearby Norburymarker part of SW16marker.

Also from the world of fashion Sir Norman Hartnell, dressmaker to the Queen, was born in Streatham. The Dior fashion designer John Galliano spent some of his youth in Streatham before moving to nearby Dulwichmarker.

Television property expert Sarah Beeny has lived in Streatham for many years.

Aleister Crowley, later dubbed "The Wickedest Man In the World", spent his teenage years during the 1880s in Streatham at a house opposite the present ice rink.

Drum and Bass DJ Grooverider is from Streatham as is the first Mayor of London and former head of the GLC Ken Livingstone.

Cynthia Payne is a renowned "madam" who made the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s with her brothel in Ambleside Avenue, Streatham.

Afghanmarker warlord Zardad Khan lived in Gleneagle Road, Streatham, before his arrest in 2003.Siobhan Dowd the author lived in Abbotsford Road, Streatham (1960-1978).

Beryl Kingston, popular novelist, lived at Strathbrook Road, Streatham, from 1956 - 1980 and taught at what was then Rosa Bassett Schoolmarker in Welham Road, and also at Sunnyhill Primary School.

Dennis Wheatley (noted best-selling author of the Black Magic genre) was born in Streatham, and lived for a time on Valley Road.

Hywell Bennett (actor) lived in Streatham and attended Sunnyhill Primary School.

Roy Hudd (comedian and broadcaster) lived for a time on Hoadly Road.

Mark King (renowned bassist of Level 42) lived for several years in The Spinney.

Boon Gould (guitarist of Level 42) lived for several years in Gleneldon Road.

Local sport

Local churches

  • Streatham Baptist Church
  • St Leonard's CoE Church
  • The Holy Redeemer Church

Nearest places

Nearest railway stations


There has been a Streatham constituencymarker of the House of Commonsmarker since 1918, when it was carved out of the former Wandsworth constituency.


External links

The sites below are commercial but may provide information on Streatham based activities:

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