What’s it all about?
With its unpretentious salt of the earth vibe, coupled with a cheery mix of green space, lively high streets and the new openings arriving thick and fast, Tooting has plenty to recommend it. It’s slightly quieter than neighbouring Balham and Streatham and has become a favourite location for young professionals and families who are looking for their own bit of space. Tooting is known for its lido, which is the largest of its kind in the UK, and for the wide green expanses of the Tooting Commons. People who live here love its community feel and the choice of schools available. Its rising popularity with young families means there is plenty to do with the little ones. There is also a vibrant and ever expanding bar and restaurant scene and, certainly south of the river, this is the place to find authentic south Asian cuisine. Transport to and from anywhere in Tooting is easy: it has two Tube stations, alongside rail and bus connections, and journey times can be under half an hour into central London.
- There is a 28km diameter crater on the planet Mars called Tooting, as its discoverer was born in the area.
- The Gala Bingo hall is a spectacular Grade I listed former 1930s cinema and concert hall, which played host to Frank Sinatra and Carmen Miranda in its heyday, and is home to one of the last few working Wurlitzer organs in London.
- The actor George Cole, snooker player Jimmy White and footballer Darren Bent all hail from Tooting.
Architecture and property
Along with Balham, Tooting developed as a settlement on the old coach route out of London to the south and west. The neighbourhood was still predominantly rural until the late 19th century when the railway arrived and development started in earnest. During the next 20 years, many fine villas were demolished to make way for streets of typical Victorian terraced housing. Between 1901 and 1911 the London County Council built the Totterdown Fields Estate, a pioneering cottage estate for working men and their families and now a conservation area. In 1926 Tooting’s transport links were improved by the opening of two Underground stations on the Northern Line, both designed by Charles Holden.
There are rare examples of early Georgian development on Upper Tooting Road, and groups of Arts and Crafts style homes in Nightingale Lane. The bulk of Tooting’s housing however, consists of Victorian and Edwardian terraces, 1920s cottages and purpose built maisonettes, together with pockets of new build apartments – all of which provide lively buying and renting markets.
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Eating: Tooting is known for its ‘curry corridor’, where you can get food from almost every country in South Asia. Locals flock to the Apollo Banana Leaf for its squid curry or mutton kothu. Dosa n Chutny’s speciality is the South Indian dosa and Chatkhara is a Pakistani restaurant that also provides party catering. If none of those take your fancy, a branch of Chicken Shop has opened (run by the people behind Soho House) on the high street, and Graveney & Meadow has the unusual distinction of being a bakery by day and a tapas and cocktail bar in the evening. For a taste of London heritage, head for Harrington’s, a traditional pie and mash shop or head to The Castle for their award winning ales and fine food. Honest burgers is also the place to be, for their delicious classic American style burgers. The Tooting Italian is popular for its excellent pizza, while Tota is the ideal eatery for their simple delicious food and relaxing atmosphere. Meat & Shake and Dip & Flip are on Upper Tooting Road and Tooting High Street respectively.
Drinking: The Tooting Tram & Social is a converted tram shed with an eclectic mix of comfy sofas and spectacular chandeliers to admire with your locally brewed beer, or pop in at the weekend for late night dancing. Another hot spot is The Little Bar, which offers expertly made drinks alongside plates of cheese and charcuterie. The Wheatsheaf is a beautiful old Victorian pub offering real ales, as well as blues and comedy nights. For a quieter pint, try The Selkirk, with its traditional interior and pub garden. One of the Geronimo Inns, the renovated Trafalger Arms serves modern English dishes.
Culture: The Tooting Arts Club is a theatre company that works with local businesses to match productions with venues, such as putting on Sweeney Todd in Harrington’s pie and mash shop. Crafty types might like to take a trip to the London Sewing Machine Museum to see machines owned by the likes of Queen Victoria, and perhaps pick up some sewing supplies on the way out.
Events: Foodival is Tooting’s annual food festival, celebrating everything that’s good about locally grown food.
- Tooting has two indoor markets only a few metres apart. Tooting Market has a fantastic multicultural vibe, and the larger, Broadway Market is one of the biggest indoor markets in London, with more than a hundred stalls. Both are open Monday to Saturday.
- Tooting is a favourite haunt for dressmakers, amateur and professional, as there is a whole host of small, family run fabric outlets along the high street and in the markets.
- There is a large Sainsbury’s with ample parking in the centre of town, as well as a smattering of high street names such as Tesco Express, TK Maxx, Primark and Boots.
- The Inside Man is the store to head to for a top notch selection of gifts for men.
- Tooting Library is open seven days a week and offers reading groups and a children’s chess club.
- Tooting Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, gym and indoor sports hall, and for the more outdoors loving there is the Tooting Bec Lido or the Tooting Bec Athletics Track. Anytime Fitness is open twenty four hours a day with The Gym, on Garratt Lane also offering twenty four hour access.
A large green space of over 200 acres, popularly known as the Tooting Commons, lies at the northern end of Tooting. Historically this was two separate parks - Tooting Graveney Common and Tooting Bec. Tooting Bec Common is home to Tooting Bec Lido, which at 91m long is the largest open air swimming pool in the country. The Lido is open to everyone from late May to the end of September and home to the South London Swimming Club, whose members have exclusive use of the Lido during the winter months. The Central London Golf Centre on Burntwood Lane boasts a nine hole golf course, a floodlit driving lane and is open seven days a week. No membership is required and the course operates on a pay and play basis, with tuition available.
Tooting Broadway Tube station is being considered by TFL as a stop on the future Crossrail 2 development. In addition to relieving congestion on the Northern Line, this would provide Tooting with a direct connection to Clapham Junction and Victoria, further enhancing the desirability of this area.
Tube: Tooting Bec and Tooting Broadway stations are both on the Northern Line, linking the area to Waterloo or London Bridge in about 20 minutes, and to Moorgate in 25 minutes.
Rail: Thameslink services run through Tooting station with trains to St Albans via Blackfriars to the north and Sutton via Wimbledon to the south.
Bus: Tooting is well served for buses, with routes 44 (Victoria), 57 (Kingston), 77 (Waterloo), 333 (Elephant & Castle), and 355 (Brixton) all passing through the area. There is also a night bus, the N44.
Cycle: Tooting is on the CS7 cycle superhighway, offering a faster and safer cycle route into the City.
Road: The London Road in Tooting leads directly to the A23, which means that the South Coast is only an hour and a half away, and that connects to the M25, giving easy access to the rest of the country.
Getting away: Gatwick and Heathrow airports are less than an hour away by road or public transport.
For younger children, Hillbrook School, St Boniface Roman Catholic Primary (Christian), Gatton Primary (Muslim), and Broadwater Primary are popular. For the older age group options include Graveney School, Ernest Bevin School (boys) and Burntwood School (girls).
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