From Academic Kids

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Surrey
Post Office and Telephone
Post townLONDON
Dialling Code:020

Streatham is a place in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is a multicultural Inner London suburb situated south of Brixton. Streatham is 5.5 miles (8.8 km) south of Charing Cross.



Streatham originated as a village on the Roman Road, Stane Street, leading south from the capital Londinium to Chichester. Its parish church, St Leonard's, goes back to Saxon times, although only the medieval tower remains in the present church.

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 London 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

In the 1730, Streatham Park, 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 by his friend Joshua Reynolds. Streatham Park was later leased to Prime Minister Lord Shelburne, and was the venue of the negotiated peace with France. Streatham Park was demolished in 1863.

Park Hill

One large house which survives is Park Hill, on the north side of Streatham Common, 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 Gallery at Millbank.


Development accelerated after the opening of the railway station at Streatham Hill on the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway in 1856. 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 Park 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. 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 Second World War Streatham developed as location for entertainment, with the 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 fast 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, which were attractive to various emigré communities arriving in London after fleeing Hitler's Germany.

Retail decline

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 gradual decline through the 1970s and a more rapid decline in the 1980s. These included long term population movements out to Croydon, Kingston and Sutton; the growth of heavy traffic on the A23 (main road from central London to Gatwick Airport and Brighton), and 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 drapers's shop, and had been operated since the 1940s by the John Lewis Partnership - coincided with the opening of a large Sainsburys supermarket 1km south of the town centre. More recently Sainsbury's opened a smaller 'Local' branch on the High Road, close to the site of the first J Sainsbury store in Stretham (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.

Contemporary Streatham

In September 2002, Streatham High Road 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 in the High Road. On a positive note this was a catalyst for Lambeth Council and Transport for London's Steet Management to start co-operating. 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 with the refurbishment of Streatham Green and repaving and relighting of the High Road in winter 2003-04.

Contemporary Streatham is a place of contrasts, with middle class families occupying houses in leafy streets that sell for in excess of £500,000 while families of asylum seekers, predominantly from Somalia and other north and east African countries are crammed into bedsits above High Road shops.

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 Norwood, 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 Hill have attracted entertainers to live in the area since the days of Music Hall. There is a Streatham Society ( plaque to comedian Tommy Trinder in Wellfield Road. Others with local connections include actors Roger Moore, and June Whitfield, and alternative comedians Eddie Izzard and Jeremy Hardy.

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

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

Nearest places

Nearest railway stations

External links


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