What’s it all about?
Streatham is an area that’s known many guises. For a thousand years and more, it was a sleepy hamlet on the Roman road to Brighton. In the 18th century it became a popular resort town, thanks to the alleged healing powers of the water from wells found in the area. In the early 20th century a theatre, three cinemas, a ballroom and ice rink began to give Streatham a bit of a reputation as a place to party. So much so that it became known as ‘the West End of the south’. The arrival of the electric tram meant that by the 1930s it was also well known as a retail district. Although today there is no spa, the area has become one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse neighbourhoods in London. Spread over a large part of the borough of Lambeth from Brixton to Norbury, Streatham encompasses large green spaces, three railway stations offering easy access to central London, and has an active and committed local community. Council and private investment in regeneration has led to the opening of many bars, restaurants and shops in recent years and the area’s popularity has surged. With a range of property, from period multi bedroom homes to purpose built modern flats, Streatham attracts the whole gamut of house hunters, from young families looking for more space to first time buyers and City professionals.
- Streatham reputedly has the longest continuous shopping street in the UK. It was also the site of the country’s first supermarket, when Express Dairies Premier Supermarkets opened in 1951.
- Park Hill, a grand house on the north side of Streatham Common, was for many years the home of Sir Henry Tate, sugar refiner and founder of the Tate Gallery.
Architecture and property
Streatham retained its village status until the arrival of the railway in 1856. Streatham Hill station was soon joined by stops at Streatham and Streatham Common, and rows of large and medium sized Victorian houses were built. With the advent of the electric tram after World War I, Streatham’s long high street became a magnet for shoppers, and large numbers of 1930s apartment blocks were added to the grand design.
Streatham boasts a large amount of good quality housing, the most desirable of which tend to be around the commons: attractive Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses, 1930s suburban terraces and apartment blocks and semi detached family houses. Detached homes and larger semis can be found in the tree lined streets off the High Road. There are council housing estates in the area, particularly towards the south of Streatham High Road, which tend to be well maintained. Streatham still represents value for money and commonly attracts families and young professionals migrating from neighbouring Brixton and Balham where they find prices have risen beyond their reach.
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Eating: It would be possible to eat your way around the world on Streatham High Road alone, but there are a few particular local favourites. Nineteen offers a foodie pleasing menu and regularly takes part in the annual Streatham Food Festival. Brighton Way has been beautifully converted from an old pub – sit on a love seat for two at the bar before moving into the restaurant and ordering a perfectly cooked steak. Oishiii serves authentic Japanese delicacies and is one of the locals’ best kept secrets. There are several pizzerias, as well as Chinese and Indian outlets, but regulars rave about Bravi Ragazzi and Rice Republic for their fresh ingredients and good service. Perfect Blend and Beyrouths both come highly recommended by locals.
Drinking: Streatham is well served for pubs and bars of all types. Pratts & Payne is a gastro pub that fires up a barbecue in its garden during summer, while The Hamlet offers cocktails and restaurant menu in its cosy, quirky bar. The Bull offers a more traditional experience with real ales, pub grub and with a burger shack in the garden.
Music: The Hideaway is a jazz lovers’ paradise, with music every weekend and jam sessions and workshops during the week.
Events: Established in 2001 the Streatham Festival has grown into an acclaimed arts festival with events including comedy, film, art, photography, food, music and dance. The Streatham Food Festival takes place in June and includes events such as a food tour of the world with taster plates available in dozens of local eateries, alongside cookery classes and local produce markets. A popular outdoor event is the Streatham Common Kite Day in June, with stunt flying displays, stalls and entertainment.
Entertainment: The eight screen Streatham Odeon shows the latest blockbusters, and Streatham Theatre is a relative newcomer but has already established itself as a local favourite, both for those wanting to tread the boards and those who would rather watch.
- Browse for gifts at The Indigo Tree, or find interior inspiration at EA Wates.
- There are not one but two regular farmers’ markets, one on Streatham Green and one at the Railway Pub in Streatham Common. For regular grocery shopping, there is a large Tesco just by the Common, and a smaller Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores on Streatham Hill.
- The newly refurbished Streatham Ice & Leisure Centre offers the only Olympic sized skating rink in the Capital alongside swimming facilities and a state of the art gym.
- Streatham boasts two tennis clubs, both more than a century old: The Wigmore Tennis Club and the Telford Park Lawn Tennis Club.
- Streatham Library has benefited from a £1.4 million refurbishment and offers a huge range of foreign language books, as well as free computer access and a reading garden.
The large expanse that is Streatham Common includes areas of woodland and meadow and offers spectacular views over London. It has also been designated a local nature reserve. Within the common is The Rookery, a formal ornamental garden on the site of one of Streatham’s wells, which plays host to outdoor theatre in the summer. Tooting Bec Common includes the well known Tooting Bec Lido, a magnet for families in the summer, but open all year round.
The site that previously housed the Streatham Megabowl and the iconic Caesar’s nightclub has been purchased by the developer London Square. Development plans include the building of 243 new homes, along with new retail units and a community and theatre space.
Rail: Streatham sprawls over a large area and there are three railway stations to get residents in and out of town: Streatham Hill, with services to Victoria (17 minutes) and London Bridge (40 minutes); Streatham, which serves London Bridge (25 minutes) as well as being on the Thameslink line to St Albans and Luton; and Streatham Common, with services to Victoria (18 minutes) and London Bridge (30 minutes).
Bus: Streatham has a newly built bus station and interchange. The area is extremely well served by bus with routes to many destinations, including the 50 to Croydon, 109 and 250 to Brixton, 333 to Elephant & Castle and the 133 to Liverpool Street.
Tube: While Streatham does not have a Tube station of its own, it is a short journey by bus to Brixton (Victoria Line) or by train to Balham (Northern Line).
Road: The main road is the A23, which eventually leads down to the south coast, and is also part of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Cycle: Merton Saints BMX Club is a well established club near Streatham Common station that welcomes members of all levels.
Getting away: Streatham is well connected, with Gatwick Airport around 50 minutes away by car.
Streatham has a good selection of schools for all age ranges. At primary level, Woodmansterne Primary and St Andrew’s Catholic Primary are popular. Bishop Thomas Grant Catholic is a coeducational secondary school that specialises in maths and IT, while Dunraven School caters to ages from primary to sixth form. Other local schools include, Henry Cavendish with one site in Balham and Julian’s Primary School serves families in both Streatham and nearby West Norwood.
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