Although there are are no records showing how Nightingale Lane got its name, it is most likely to be because the song of the nightingale could be heard in the woods surrounding it. A 1745 map shows Nightingale Lane as a tree lined route with fields either side linking both Clapham and Wandsworth commons. Formerly known as Belham Wood Lane or Balham Lane, it was probably used for moving cattle between the two Commons. A later map published in 1860 shows the beginnings of the early development of houses with a number of detached villas built on the south side and the grand Old Park House set in substantial grounds on the north side. In the late 1800s Old Park House was demolished to make way for housing in the area around what is now Old Park Avenue which runs off Nightingale Lane. With the onset of the railways, Nightingale Lane became a fashionable area with many large houses set in landscaped gardens. The surrounding area remained rural as it had for many centuries but by 1896 the south side had been developed into a system of road and buildings which exist today. This development reflected Balham’s rapidly growing status as a much sought after high class suburb and Nightingale Lane became the quintessential Victorian London suburb.
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