Through the Gateway to the South
Pubs down the Northern Line from Balham to Morden
This printout of the online version of Through the Gateway to the South has been updated by information reported up to January 2010. To buy the printed version of any of our local guides go to the CAMRA on-line shop at http://shop.camra.org.uk/
Eventually we will have all the pubs in our area available on-line via the very useful www.camrahops.com website. We intend this to be the most up-to-date pubs listing available for South West London pubs.
For now we now have UPDATED on-line versions of the three earliest publications available on this website. Either use the Pubs drop down menu at the top of any page for direct links to the on-line pubs lists or click the links below for a list of the pubs in the relevant postcode area:
If you spot any errors or omissions in our listings please contact our Pubs Officer, Geoff Strawbridge, with the details.
We tried to make the information in this guide as accurate as possible but given the way that the licensed trade changes these days, and particularly as licensing hours are now being adjusted, it is inevitable that we will have been caught out somewhere. The publishers and editors cannot therefore accept any responsibility for the consequences of any errors, omissions and other inaccuracies. All work on this guide has been carried out by volunteers. No fees have been paid, nor were any sought, for the inclusion of any pub.
Our title is inspired by the spoof on the "Look at Life" type supporting features that used to be shown in cinemas many years ago, written by Frank Muir & Denis Norden and performed by Peter Sellers. So, if you are now leaving the verdant grasslands of Battersea Park behind you, you can pass through Balham, Gateway to the South and see what lies there and beyond...
You can hear the original 1958 Peter Sellers recording of Balham, Gateway to the South here on YouTube
There are no fewer than five pubs in this guide which are included on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest. All of them serve real ale and three of them are Young’s pubs. The striking thing about these five pubs is their contrasting characters and features.
The most lavish by far is the late Victorian King’s Head, 84 Upper Tooting Road, SW17, built in the pub building boom which swept through London in the 1890s and making use of the latest techniques of glass-making, ceramics and ironwork. This pub is also on Part II of CAMRA’s National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest and is well worth a visit.
In total contrast and not far from the King’s Head is the simple two-bar Little House (formerly Queen Victoria), 13 Tooting Grove, SW17. This was built in 1934 as an estate pub and, as such, is fit for purpose.
The three Young’s pubs on the London Regional Inventory are also quite different from each other. Although the Devonshire, 39 Balham High Road, SW12 and the Prince of Wales, 646 Garratt Lane, SW17 date from the same era (late 1890s) they have contrasting interiors. The Devonshire, in its position on the High Road, was obviously meant to impress with its high-quality glass and woodwork, whereas the Prince of Wales’s interior is more modest but interesting nonetheless, not least for the signs of a refitting between the wars in the form of brick fireplaces and the exterior tile frontage. Finally, the third Young’s pub, the Gorringe Park, 29 London Road, SW17 is another Victorian building (c.1875) but the most modest of the three. It has two rooms, one with plain matchboard panelling and cast iron fire surround and overmantel and another, more comfortable, rear room which has had some good-quality fielded panelling added in the late 1930s/1940s.
There is no shortage of pub heritage variety to enjoy in this part of South West London.
Gateways to the South
Apart from the King’s Head in Tooting and perhaps some other pubs, you might think that there are few buildings of real architectural interest to be found in the area covered by this guide. But if you’ve used the Northern Line to reach your pub of choice, you will have already encountered one as all the stations between Balham and Morden are in fact Grade II listed buildings.
The route between Clapham Common and Morden opened for business on 13 September 1926 as an extension of London’s very first deep tube line, the City & South London Railway. Architect Charles Holden came up with a basic design for the street frontage of the station that could be varied according to the different characteristics of the sites selected, mainly at street corners (like some pubs) to capture the maximum passing trade. The design took the form of a three-part screen, where the angle between the central part and the side wings varies from an acute angle at Tooting Bec to more gently curving facades at Tooting Broadway and South Wimbledon.
Faced in Portland stone, Holden’s stations are notable also for the large window giving light to the ticket hall, incorporating the roundel that went on to become the familiar logo of London Transport. The roundel appears in three-dimensional form as a capital at the top of the columns on each side of the main window. A brochure produced for the opening of the Morden extension described a station as "an inviting doorway in an architectural setting that cannot be missed by the casual pedestrian".
Whatever our feelings about the Northern Line, some 80 years later it is still true that Holden’s stations are hard to miss, standing out clearly in the sometimes jumbled streetscape of South West London.
This guide is published by the South West London Branch of CAMRA and copyright and all other rights are reserved to the Campaign for Real Ale Ltd (2006-2009). No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, by any means - electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise - without the prior permission of the Campaign for Real Ale Ltd.