A Peek Inside Du Cane Court

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 15 months ago
A Peek Inside Du Cane Court
Original marketing material for Du Cane Court, when it opened in the late 1930s

One of the great urban legends about Du Cane Court is that the art deco apartment block in Balham was coveted by Adolf Hitler, and thus spared bombing in the second world war.

We'll take such a claim with a pinch of salt, thank you — especially as the tack-on suggestion that Du Cane Court resembles a swastika from above, is utter tripe.

Not a bad looking lobby

Still, many Londoners have something of a low-key fascination for this building, which has been home to figures from Hitchcock actor Dame Margaret Rutherford, to comedian Arthur Smith.

Now, Made.com has launched an interactive website, Under the Same Roof, which invites you to explore Du Cane Court, its history, and some of its 676 flats, like so:

Dodgy myths aside, there are some juicy facts in here.

When it opened in 1937, every apartment came with a radio fitted in every room (quite something at the time). When air raids started a few years later, the apartment manager Mr Jackson, is said to have 'hijacked' the airwaves, making such public announcements as, "Du Cane Court calling! Du Cane Court calling! A flat on the second floor in H block has the light on, and the blackout curtains are not drawn."

And, although Du Cane Court did indeed avoid the wrath of Hitler's bombs (thanks perhaps to Mr Jackson), a fire in 1945 put paid to its opulent bar and restaurant, with billiards room, poker room and access to a beautiful roof garden. These were not rebuilt.

The restaurant, sadly destroyed in 1945

The website also introduces us to some of the lucky bleeders who live in Du Cane Court today, including Kiwi artist Lois, young couple Callum and Rae, and a family of four, who someone has squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment.

Callum and Rae, who say their flat is large by London standards
A plan taken from the original marketing material
Lois, a resident at Du Cane Court
A corridor, with original 1930s doors
Vladimiro, Olga, Lidiia & Matvey, who live in a one-bedroom flat

As a private residence — and not one we've seen on Open House lately — Du Cane Court is one of those enigmatic buildings that it's a pleasure to get a peek inside at... even if it is only a virtual peek.

Last Updated 18 September 2017