Croydon is a major
commercial centre in Greater London and the principal settlement of the London Borough
of Croydon. It is south of Charing Cross, and is one of the major metropolitan centres
identified in the London Plan.
located on the natural transport corridor between London and
England's south coast, just to the north of a gap in the North Downs.
Historically a part of Surrey, at the time
of the Norman conquest of
England Croydon had a church, a mill and around 365 inhabitants
(as recorded in the Domesday
Book of 1086).
Croydon expanded during the Middle Ages
as a market
and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and
brewing. The Surrey
Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was the world's first
horse-drawn railway, which later developed into an important means
of transport – facilitating Croydon's growth as a commuter town for the City of London and beyond.
In the early 20th century Croydon was an important industrial area,
known for metal working, car manufacture and its airport. In the
mid 20th century these sectors were replaced with retailing and
, brought about as a
result of a massive redevelopment of office blocks and the Whitgift
shopping centre. Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965. Road traffic is now diverted away from a
largely pedestrianised town centre, but its main railway station,
Croydon, is still a major hub within the national railway
The town is expected to have its urban planning
changed as part of Croydon Vision 2020
is that the name Croydon derives originally from the Anglo-Saxon croh, meaning
"crocus" and denu 'valley', indicating that, like Saffron Walden in Essex, it was a centre for
the collection of saffron.
According to John Corbett Anderson, "The earliest mention of
Croydon is in the joint will of Beorhtric and Aelfswth, dated about
the year 962. In this Anglo-Saxon document the name is spelt (here
he uses original script) Crogdaene. Crog was, and still is, the
Norse or Danish word for crooked, which is expressed in Anglo-Saxon
by crumb, a totally different word. From the Danish came our crook
and crooked. This term accurately describes the locality; it is a
crooked or winding valley; in reference to the valley which runs in
an oblique and serpentine course from Godstone to Croydon."
Anderson rejected a claim, originally cited by Andrew Coltee Ducarel
that the name
came from the Old French for 'chalk hill', for the reasons that the
name was in use at least a century before the French language would
have been commonly used, following the Norman Invasion.
There is a plate recording a Bronze Age
settlement on Croham Hurst. In addition there is evidence of a
settlement in the area on the
London to Brighton
Roman road, and a 5th to 6th century pagan Saxon
In the late Saxon period it was the centre of a large estate
belonging to the Archbishops of
. The church
archbishops' manor house
area still known as the Old Town. The archbishops used the manor
house as an occasional place of residence and would continue to
have important links as Lords of the
, a title originally bestowed on Archbishop Lanfranc
by William the Conqueror
, and then as
local patrons right up to the present day. Croydon appears in
held by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury.
Its domesday assets were: 16 hide
and 1 virgate
church, 1 mill
worth 5s, 38 ploughs
, of meadow
worth 200 hog
It rendered £37 10s 0d.
In 1276 the archbishop acquired a charter
for a weekly market
, and this probably marks
the foundation of Croydon as an urban centre. Croydon developed
into one of the main market towns
northeast Surrey. The market place
laid out on the higher ground to the east of the manor house in the
triangle now bounded by High Street, Surrey Street and Crown Hill.
By the 16th century the manor house had become a substantial palace
used as the main summer home of the archbishops, visited by
monarchs and other dignitaries. The original palace was sold in 1781, by
then dilapidated and surrounded by slums and
stagnant ponds, and a new residence, nearby at Addington, purchased in its place. Many of the buildings
of the original Croydon
Palace survive, and are in use today as Old Palace
The earliest record of Christian leaders in Croydon is in an
Anglo-Saxon will made in about 960, witnessed by Elfsies, priest of
Croydon. The Domesday Book
the earliest written record of Croydon Church. The earliest
recording of the name of the church is 6 December 1347, when it was
recorded in the will of John de Croydon, fishmonger, containing a
bequest to "the church of S John de Croydon". The church still
bears the arms of Archbishop
, presumed to be its benefactors.
Parish Church is a Perpendicular-style church which was
remodelled in 1849 but was destroyed in a great fire in 1867,
following which only the tower, south porch and outer walls
A new church was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott
, one of the
greatest architects of the Victorian
, and opened in 1870. His design loosely followed the
previous layout, with knapped flint
many of the original features, including several important tombs.
Croydon Parish Church is the burial place of six Archbishops of
Canterbury including John Whitgift
, Gilbert Sheldon
, William Wake
, John Potter
and Thomas Herring
. Previously part of
the Diocese of
Canterbury, Croydon is now in the Diocese of
The Vicar of Croydon is an important post,
in addition to the suffragan
Bishop of Croydon
Palace is a Palladian-style mansion between
Addington Village and Shirley, surrounded by park landscapes and golf courses,
within the boundaries of Croydon.
After an Act of Parliament
enabled the mansion to
be purchased for the Archbishops of Canterbury in 1807, it became
the official residence of six Archbishops until it was sold in
1898. In 1953 it was leased to the Royal School of Church Music
until 1996, when it was leased to a private company which has
developed it as a conference and banqueting venue, with plans for a
health farm and country club. The grounds were landscaped by
and are mainly a
golf course and public park. A famous very large cedar
tree stands next to the Palace.
The "Whitgift Hospital" almshouses in the centre of Croydon
The Elizabethan Whitgift Almshouses
the "Hospital of the Holy Trinity", have stood in the centre of
Croydon (at the corner of North End and George Street) since they
were erected by Archbishop John Whitgift. He had petitioned for
and had received permission from Queen Elizabeth I to establish a hospital
and school in Croydon for the "poor, needy and impotent people"
from the parishes of Croydon and Lambeth.
The foundation stone was laid in 1596 and
the building was completed in 1599.
The premises included the actual Hospital or Almshouses, providing
accommodation for between 28 and 40 people, and a nearby
schoolhouse and schoolmaster's house. There was a Warden in charge
for the well-being of the almoners. The building is constructed
with the chambers of the almoners and various offices surrounding
an inner courtyard.
Threatened by various reconstruction plans
and road-widening schemes, the Almshouses were saved in 1923 by
intervention of the House of Lords.
On 21 June 1983 Queen Elizabeth II
almshouses and unveiled a plaque celebrating the recently completed
reconstruction of the building. On 22 March each year the laying of
the foundation stone is commemorated as Founder's Day.
Industrial Revolution and the railway
development of Brighton as a fashionable resort in the 1780s increased
Croydon's role as a significant halt for stage coaches on the road south of
At the beginning of the 19th century Croydon became
the terminus of two pioneering commercial transport links with
London. The first, opened in 1803, was the
horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway
from Wandsworth, which in 1805 was extended to Merstham, as the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone
Railway. The second, opened in 1809, was the Croydon Canal, which branched off the Grand Surrey
Canal at Deptford. The London and Croydon Railway (an
atmospheric and steam-powered
railway), opened between London Bridge and West
Croydon in 1839, using much of the route of the canal
(which had closed in 1836), and other connections to London and the
The arrival of the railways and other communications advances in
the 19th century led to a 23-fold increase in Croydon's population
between 1801 and 1901.This rapid expansion of the town led to
considerable health problems, especially in the damp and
overcrowded working class
the Old Town. In response to this, in 1849 Croydon became one of
the first towns in the country to acquire a Local Board of Health
. The Board
constructed public health
infrastructure including a reservoir
water supply network
, a pumping station, and
A growing town
H.Q of Nestlé U.K
town continued to grow it became especially popular as a pleasant
leafy residential suburb for members of the
Victorian middle classes, who could
commute to the City of London by fast train in 15 minutes.
Jurys Inn Croydon
In 1883 Croydon
was incorporated as a borough. In 1889 it became a county borough,
with a still greater degree of autonomy. The new county borough
council implemented the Croydon Improvement scheme in the early
1890s, which resulted in the widening of the High Street and the
clearance of much of the 'Middle Row' slum area. The remaining slums
were cleared shortly after World War II, with much of the population
relocated to the isolated new community at New Addington. New stores opened and expanded in central
Croydon, including Allders, Kennards and Grants, and the first Sainsbury's self-service shop in the country.
also a bustling market on Surrey Street.
By the 1950s, with its continuing growth, the town was becoming
, and the Council
decided to introduce another major redevelopment scheme. The
Croydon Corporation Act was passed in 1956. This, coupled with
government incentives for office relocation out of London, led to
the building of new offices and accompanying road schemes through
the late 1950s and 1960s, and the town boomed as an important
business centre in the 1960s, with the building of a large number
of multi-storey office blocks, an underpass
, a flyover
multi-storey car parks.
branch opened in Croydon. This
shop became the chain's longest running branch, but was forced to
close in January 2009
after the entire chain
went into administration in December 2008.
modern times Croydon has developed an important centre for
shopping, with the construction of the Whitgift Centre, which opened in 1969. The Fairfield
Halls arts centre and event venue opened in 1962.
Theatre opened in 1977.
The 1990s saw further
changes intended to give the town a more attractive image.
include the closure of North End
to vehicles in 1989 and the opening of the Croydon
Clocktower arts centre in 1994. Tramlink began operation in May 2000. A new equally large
shopping centre, Centrale, opened in 2004 opposite the Whitgift Centre,
straddling the site of the smaller Drummond Centre and what was once a large branch of C&A. There are plans for a large new shopping
Place, which will replace most of the eastern edge of the
shopping district including St George's Walk; the redevelopment of the Croydon
Gateway site; and extensions of Tramlink to Purley, Streatham, Lewisham and Crystal Palace.
Croydon has become the second-largest place
to shop in the south east, after central
, offering a wide range of shops and department stores.
also home to many high density buildings such as the Nestlé
Tower, being London's third main CBD, after the Square Mile and the Docklands and South
London's main business centre. The Croydon area is
served by various hospitals of which the main one is Mayday
University Hospital in London Road.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson
has stated that he would support
Croydon becoming an official city.
centuries the area lay within the Wallington hundred, an ancient Anglo-Saxon administrative division of the
county of Surrey.
Croydon was created a municipal
of Surrey in 1883. In 1889, through its growing
economic importance, it was made a county
exempt from county administration. In 1965 the County Borough of Croydon was
abolished and its former area was transferred to Greater London and combined with that of the Coulsdon and
Purley Urban District to form the present-day London Borough
the area lies within the Addiscombe and Fairfield wards which form part of the Croydon Central constituency. The rest of the town
is in the Croham
ward which is part of Croydon South.
These wards are all in the local authority
of Croydon, which has the
responsibility for providing services such as education, refuse
collection, and tourism. The Addiscombe ward is currently
represented by Councillors
Jackson, Andrew Price, and Maria Garcia de la Huerta, members of
the Conservative Party
Fairfield and Croham wards also brought back Conservatives, leaving
the area represented only by Conservatives at council level. Labour
lost the seat that it had in Addiscombe in the 2006 local elections
also forms part of the London
constituency of the European Parliament. The sitting Member of Parliament for Croydon Central is Andrew Pelling, a
member of the Conservative
Party. The sitting Member of Parliament for Croydon South is Richard Ottaway,
who is also a member of the Conservatives.
The police service is provided by the Metropolitan Police
with Croydon Police
Station on Park Lane next to Croydon College. The London Fire
Brigade provide services for the area and Greater
London as a whole.
The nearest fire station is in Old Town
which has only two pumping appliance.
Croydon is situated in the centre of the borough of Croydon.
adjoins with South
Croydon and West
Croydon, which is administered along with Croydon.
south are the North
Downs, which stretch to the white cliffs
of Dover in Kent, as well as parts of Surrey and the
south coast. The Pilgrims' Way path is to the south of Croydon.
is bordered by Selhurst and South
Norwood to the north, which are both part of the same
borough; South Croydon to the south; Shirley due east and Beddington in the borough of Sutton to
the west. The northernmost point of Croydon is at the
junction with Northcote
Road and Whitehorse Road where there are a community centre and a few retail shops,
overlapping with Selhurst and Broad Green. The postcode area
that covers most of Croydon is CR0 which forms part of the CR postcode area.
The CR postcode was created especially for Croydon and its
Croydon is split up by a number of different areas in the same
borough. Fairfield, Broad Green, West Croydon and South Croydon
make up the rest of Croydon, but are known as separate areas in
their own right. The most prominent of these towns is South Croydon
which has become a town of its own, with various shops and its own
high street. It is essentially a dormitory
for Croydon and Central
. The street South End is the prominent main
road in South Croydon and continues northward as High Street,
Croydon and southward as Brighton Road.
is split in the middle with a rough line from west to east along
Wellesley Road on the A212 road. This type of urban
planning has been discouraged recently by the London Plan and there have been a number of
proposals to ease the relation between East Croydon
station and the town centre of Croydon. Croydon Vision 2020
aims to solve that
problem and make the whole road easier for pedestrians by creating
a centre island pathway.
Arts and literature
The Fairfield Halls, Croydon's entertainment complex
The BRIT School
There are several arts venues. Foremost amongst these is the Fairfield
Halls, opened in 1962, which consists of a large concert
hall frequently used for BBC recordings, the Ashcroft
Theatre and the Arnhem Gallery.
Fairfield is the
home of the London Mozart
, whose Principal Guest Conductor is flautist Sir
. Many famous faces have
appeared at the Fairfield Halls, from the
through Bucks Fizz
, Robert Cray
, Don McLean
, The Monkees
, Dionne Warwick
, Gladys Knight
, Tom Jones
, Status Quo
, Level 42
, Joe Satriani
, Jools Holland
, James Last
. The main concert hall was used for the
conference scene in the Tom Hanks
The Da Vinci Code
Theatre is a studio theatre known for promoting new
writing, as well as comedy and youth theatre. Croydon
Clocktower, built by the London Borough of Croydon in the
mid-1990s, houses a state-of-the-art library, the David Lean cinema, a performance venue in the old
reference library and the town museum.
The Pembroke Theatre
had many productions with
well known actors before its closure in about 1962.
There are several local and small venues for comedy and community
events dotted around Croydon and its neighbourhoods. Croydon Youth Theatre
celebrated its 40th birthday in 2005. There are
several community arts groups, particularly in the large Asian
community. There are controversial plans
to develop an arena for entertainment and sporting events at the
Croydon Gateway site.
A calendar titled "Rare Roundabouts of Croydon", with a picture of
a different Croydon roundabout each month, has enjoyed some
has been at the centre of the development of the dubstep genre, a relatively recent musical
development that traces its roots from Jamaican dub music, UK Garage and drum and
bass. Artists such as Benga
and Skream, who honed their production and
DJ skills whilst working at the now
defunct Big Apple Records on Surrey
Street, along with Norwood's Digital Mystikz and Thornton Heath's
Plastician, form the core roster of
dubstep DJs and producers.
Croydon also has a thriving rock scene producing such local talent
as Czagio, The Tunics, Kitty Hudson, Von Kleet, ApfelZaft,
Rosewest, 5th Man Down
Godsized, Bad Sign, Ten Foot Nun, Mordecai, Surviving Silence,
. Local venues for live music include the
Black Sheep Bar, The Ship, The Green Dragon, The Brief, The George,
and The Scream Lounge.
addition to the Fairfield Halls, there have been several notable
venues in Croydon that have hosted major established national and
international rock acts - established in 1976, The Cartoon in
Croydon was a very popular live music venue, but closed its
doors for the final time in November 2006.
The Greyhound in
Park Lane (in the site within the Nestle complex currently occupied
by the Blue Orchid) played host to acts such as Led Zeppelin
, The Who
, David Bowie
, Siouxsie & the Banshees
, The Boomtown Rats
and many others during
the 1960s and 1970s.
The composer Samuel
(1875-1912) lived at 30 Dagnall Park,
Selhurst, until his death. He grew up in Croydon and sang in the church
choir at St George's and taught at the Crystal
Palace and many other schools of music.
from pneumonia after collapsing at West Croydon station.
There is an impressive grave with a
touching poem at Bandon Hill Cemetery, as well as exhibits about
him in the Clock Tower Museum, Katharine Street.
The town centre was for 30 years home to Europe's largest
second-hand record store, Beanos, offering rare vinyl, CDs and
books. In November 2008, it was announced that Beanos would be
closing down. The premises (off Church Street near the Grants
cinema complex) are to become a "market place" with stalls for rent
by small business and individuals.
is home to the BRIT
School for performing arts and technology, based in
Selhurst, which has produced stars such as Katie Melua, Amy
Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Imogen Heap, Dane
Bowers and members of The Feeling
& The Kooks.
Croydon also plays host to the filming of the popular Channel 4
show, Peep Show
. Croydon is also home to
several video game developers, including Crawfish
. The ITV
police drama The Bill, although is set in East London, is filmed in
Croydon, many of the town centre locations are filmed around Surrey
Street and St George's House (the Nestle Building). Sun Hill Police
station is situated in nearby Mitcham. In 2007, the music
video for pop star Mika's single
Big Girl was
filmed in various locations around the town, including the High
Street and Surrey
Croydon was also revealed to be the true
birthplace of Phillip the "African Prince" in the 1980 film version
of Rising Damp
. (Don Warrington revealed
in Britains 50 Best Sitcoms on Channel 4, that this fact was
actually supposed to be revealed in the TV Series, but that the
death of Richard Beckinsale meant that this was not possible).The
opening credits for the sitcom Terry and
featured the eponymous stars walking around the Whitgift
Centre and the Fairfield Halls area.
The inside concourse of East Croydon
Wandle is a major tributary of the River Thames, where it stretches to Wandsworth and Putney for 9
miles (14 km) from its main source in Croydon.
a rough western boundary with the London
Borough of Sutton, and for part of its length forms the boundary
between the London Boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth. The main river ends near Croydon with one of
its tributaries ending in Selhurst. Just to the south of Croydon is a
significant gap in the North Downs, which acts as a route focus for transport from
London to the south coast.
The old London to Brighton road used to pass through the town on
before it was shut off
to motor traffic. The A23 now
bypasses the centre of the town and follows Purley Way, to the west of the area, instead.
Brighton Main Line railway route
Croydon links the town to Sussex, Surrey, and Kent and to Central
London to the north: providing direct services to Hastings,
Southampton, Brighton, Portsmouth, Gatwick Airport, Bedford and
Luton. Also running through Croydon is the N/S cross-country line
which links Manchester and Reading directly with South London, the
south east, and the South Coast. The main station for all these services
is East Croydon
station in the centre of the town centre.
station is the largest and busiest railway station in
Croydon and the third busiest in London, excluding those in
Travelcard Zone 1.
station serves all trains travelling west except the
There are also more regional stations scattered
around the borough. Passenger rail services through Croydon are
provided by Southern
and First Capital Connect
rail system Tramlink (Operated by Tramtrack Croydon, a wholly owned subsidy of Transport for London),
opened in 2000, and Croydon serves as its main hub.
network consists of three lines, from Elmers End to West Croydon, from Beckenham to West Croydon, and from New Addington to Wimbledon, with all three lines running via the Croydon loop
on which it is centred.
It has been highly successful,
environmentally-friendly and a reliable light rail system carrying
around 22 million passengers a year. It is also the only tram
system in London but there is another light rail system in the Docklands
. It serves Mitcham, Woodside, Addiscombe and the Purley Way retail and industrial area amongst others.
extension to Crystal Palace is currently being developed by Transport for
London with the support of the council and the South London
The extension could be in service by 2013.
possible extensions include Sutton, a new
park and ride close to the M25, Coulsdon, Purley, Kingston
upon Thames, Tolworth, Tooting, Brixton for an interchange with the proposed Cross River Tram, Bromley and Lewisham for an interchange with the Docklands Light
Construction of the first phase of the East London Line
Extension to West Croydon
is now under way north of the Thames. This project will
improve Croydon's public transport connections to central and inner
It will also provide the main impetus
for building a modern public transport interchange at West Croydon
station linking tram
. The East London Line
Extension will be a major contribution to London's transport
infrastructure in time for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
to be held
in the capital in 2012. Two stations in Croydon, Norwood
Junction and West Croydon, will be connected to London Underground
Croydon's early transport links
The horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway was the world's first public
railway. It was opened in 1803, had double track, was some long and
ran from Wandsworth to Croydon, at what is now Reeves Corner and
which in 1805 was extended to Merstham, as the Croydon, Merstham
and Godstone Railway. The railway boom of the 1840s brought
superior and faster steam lines and it closed in 1846. The route is
followed in part by Tramlink. The last remaining sections of rail
can be seen behind railings in a corner of Rotary Field in Purley.
opening of the LBSCR's line to London Victoria in 1860, extra platforms were provided which were
treated by the LBSCR as forming part of a separate station named
The SER was excluded from this
station which ran exclusively LBSCR services to London at fares
cheaper than those which the SER could offer from the original
station. In 1864, the LBSCR obtained authorisation to
construct a ½-mile long branch line into the heart of the town
centre near Katharine Street where Croydon
Central station was built.
The new line opened in 1868 but
enjoyed little success and closed in 1871, only to reopen in 1886
under pressure from the Town Council before finally closing in
station was subsequently demolished and replaced by the new
In 1897-98, East Croydon and New Croydon
stations were merged into a single station equipped with the three
which remain to
this day. Even so, the two stations kept separate booking accounts
Canal ran for from what is now West Croydon
station. It travelled north to largely along the
course of the present railway line to New Cross Gate, where it joined the Grand Surrey Canal and went on
into the Thames.
It opened in 1809 and
had 28 locks
. It had a strong competitor
in the Surrey Iron Railway and was never a financial success. It
sold out to the London & Croydon Railway in 1836. The lake at South Norwood is the former reservoir for the canal.
Airport on Purley Way was the main international airport
for London until it was superseded by London
Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
Starting out during World War I
as an airfield for protection
, and developing into one
of the great airports of the world during the 1920s and 1930s, it
welcomed the world's pioneer aviators in its heyday. As aviation
technology progressed, however, and aircraft
became larger and more numerous, it was
recognized in 1952 that the airport would be too small to cope with
the ever-increasing volume of air traffic. The last scheduled
flight departed on 30 September 1959. The air terminal, now known
as Airport House, has been restored and has a museum open one day a
There is only one further
institution in the local area. The town is home to
College, with its main site on Park Lane and College Road
near East Croydon railway station.
It currently has over
13,000 students attending one of its three sub-colleges. The
sub-colleges were created in 2007 to allow for more students to be
catered for and to ensure that the courses on offer, the style of
teaching and the way the college is run are right for the students
that attend each college. The three colleges that were created by
the action are the Croydon Sixth Form College, Croydon Skills and
Enterprise College and the Croydon Higher Education College. The
Higher Education College offers university-level education in a
range of subjects from Law through to Fine Art. Croydon Skills and
Enterprise College delivers training and education opportunities
that have been designed to meet the various needs of businesses of
all sizes, across different sectors within London and the south
- Republished in 1970 by SR Publishers, East Ardsley,
- Surrey Domesday Book
- Looking Out For No1 (from Croydon
- State of the art refurbishment
- BBC News - Roundabout calendar is gift hit
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6214278.stm Beanos closing
- http://www.beanos.co.uk/ Beanos announcing closing down
Croydon Phillip's birthplace
- White, H.P., op. cit. p. 79.
- Treby, E., op. cit. p. 106.