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The Croydon Canal ran 9.25 miles (15 km) from Croydonmarker, via Forest Hillmarker, to the Grand Surrey Canalmarker at New Crossmarker in south Londonmarker.

Authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1801, the canal was originally intended to extend northwards to Rotherhithemarker, but the simultaneous construction of the Grand Surrey Canal provided a convenient access route. It opened on 22 October 1809.

The Croydon Canal linked to the Croydon Merstham and Godstone Railway (itself connected to the Surrey Iron Railway), enabling the canal to be used to transport stone and lime from workings at Mersthammarker. The canal was never extended further south-west, as was initially intended, to reach Epsommarker.

The canal was originally planned with two inclined planes but in the end 28 locks, arranged in two flights, were used instead. To keep the canal supplied with water a reservoir was constructed at Sydenham, with another at South Norwoodmarker; this still exists as South Norwood Lake in a public park.

The canal was built 34 feet (10 m) wide. It had a maximum depth of 5 feet (1.5 m). By 1811 22 barges plied the canal. The barges were 60 feet (18 m) long and 9 feet (2.7 m) wide and could carry about 30 tons. The main cargo was timber.

After the initial flights of locks, most of the canal followed the 161 ft (49.1m) contour.

The final two locks at Croydon Common raised the level of the canal to the 174 ft (53m) contour, and because there was no natural source of water a steam pumping station was built at the foot of the locks to pump water up to the summit pound.

The canal was never a success and closed in 1836. It was the first canal to be formally abandoned by an Act of Parliament. Much of the alignment was used by the London & Croydon Railway Company (to whom the canal had been sold for £40,250) for part of the railway route that today links London Bridge railway stationmarker and West Croydon railway stationmarker, which stands on the site of the old canal basin.


Although the canal closed in 1836, certain sections were retained for leisure use, and some remained in water for a considerable time. The section at Betts Park in Anerleymarker was used as a boating lake, and the area was called Anerley Tea Rooms. The canal was turned into a concrete trough in 1934, and can be seen at the northern corner of Betts Park. Another section exists as a long curved pond in a small nature reserve in Dacres Road, Forest Hill. This was considered for redevelopment in 1989, but research by Lewisham Council resulted in its identity being confirmed, and it now forms an attractive wetland, having been returned to its former width. The side of a lock is also visible in the high pavement in David's Road, Forest Hill.

See also


  1. London Canals: Croydon: Honor Oak
  2. London Canals: Croydon: Norwood
  3. London Canals: Croydon: Dacres Wood
  4. Lewisham Council: Conservation: Dacres Wood
  5. London Canals: Croydon: Davids Road

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