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London Borough of Croydon

(Redirected from Croydon)

For the village in Cambridgeshire see Croydon, Cambridgeshire .

London Borough of Croydon
Shown within Greater London
Status: London borough
- Total
Ranked 256th
86.52 km²
ONS code: 00AH
- Total (2002 est.)
- Density
Ranked 9th
3,890 / km²
Ethnicity: 70.2% White
11.3% S.Asian
13.3% Afro-Carib.
Arms of Croydon London Borough Council
Croydon London Borough Council
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Labour
MPs: Geraint Davies, Richard Ottaway, Malcolm Wicks
London Assembly:
- Member
Croydon and Sutton
- Andrew Pelling

Croydon is a large suburban town and commercial centre to the south of London and forms part of the Greater London conurbation. It was once a Surrey Urban District Council, but in 1889, through its growing economic importance, it was made into a County Borough exempt from county administration. In 1965 it became the London Borough of Croydon, annexing the former Coulsdon and Purley Urban District. It is now governed by a cabinet-style council created in 2001.

Its area is 34sq m (87km²). Population: (1998) 338,200.


The name

The name of Croydon derives originally from the Anglo-Saxon croeas deanas, meaning "the valley of the crocuses", indicating that, like Saffron Walden in Essex, it was a centre for the collection of saffron. The name was often the subject of parody by comedy duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.


The town of Croydon is situated 10 miles south of London at the head of the River Wandle. Just to the south 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 , the A23, passed through the town as does the main line from London to Brighton. Today the A23 follows a route to the west of the town known as the Purley Way. Croydon is the largest office and retail centre in south-east England outside of central London.


There is evidence of Roman settlement in the area and a 5th to 6th century pagan Saxon cemetery.

In the late Saxon period, it was the centre of a large estate belonging to the Archbishops of Canterbury. The church and the archbishops' manor house occupied the area still known as the Old Town. The archbishops used the manor house as an occasional place of residence.

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 of northeast Surrey.

The market place was 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 sixteenth century the manor house had become a substantial palace used as the main summer home of the archbishops. The original palace was sold in 1781, 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 School.

With the development of Brighton as a fashionable resort in the 1780s Croydon’s role as a significant halt for stage coaches on the road south of London increased.

A 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 was later in 1805 extended to Merstham, as the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway.

The second, opened in 1809, was the Croydon Canal, which came from the Surrey Canal at Deptford.

The London & Croydon Railway (a steam-powered railway), opened between London Bridge and West Croydon in 1839 and other connections to London and the south followed.

The rapid expansion of the town brought about by the railways in the 19th century led to considerable health problems, especially in the damp and overcrowded working class district of 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, several miles of pipes and sewers, a pumping station, and sewage disposal works.

As the 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 20 minutes.

In 1883, Croydon was incorporated as a Borough. In 1889, it became a County Borough, with a still greater degree of autonomy. The new 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

By the 1950 and the growth of motor transport the town was becoming congested, 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 roads in the late 1950s onwards

The town boomed as an important business centre in the 1960s, with the building of a large number of multi-story office blocks, underpasses , flyovers, and multi-storey car parks.

The town has born the brunt of many jokes aimed at its enthusiastic adoption of urban modernism. It has often been characterised as dull and inhuman. A calendar entitled ‘Roundabouts of Croydon’ with a picture of a different Croydon roundabout each month has enjoyed some success.

Croydon also developed as an important centre for shopping with the construction of the Whitgift Centre which opened in 1969. In the same period, Fairfield Halls arts centre and event venue opened (1962).

The 1990s saw further changes intended to give the town a more attractive image. These include the closure of North End to motor traffic in 1989; and the opening of the Clocktower arts centre, in 1994. Croydon Tramlink, began operation in May 2000.

Addington Palace

Addington 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 again in 1898.

In 1953, it was leased to the Royal School of Church Music until 1996 when it was leased to a private company who are currently developing the site for public use.

Croydon's Early Transport Links

The horse drawn Surrey Iron Railway was probably Britain's first public railway. It was opened in 1803, had a double track, some 8 miles long and ran from Wandsworth to Croydon terminating at what is now Reeves Corner. The railway boom of the 1840s built superior and faster steam lines and it closed in 1846. The route is still followed in part by Croydon’s new Tramlink system.

The Croydon canal ran for 9 miles from what is now West Croydon railway station north along the course of the present railway line to New Cross, where it joined, the Surrey canal and went on into the Thames. It was 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 steam railways in 1836 and the present Croydon to New Cross Gate line follows much of its course. The lake at South Norwood is the former reservoir for the canal.

Croydon Airport

Croydon Airport on Purley Way used to be the main airport for London before it was superseded by London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport. Starting out during World War I as an airfield for protection against Zeppelins, 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. It was decided it would have to close, and the last scheduled flight departed on September_30 1959.

The air terminal, now known as Airport House, has been restored and may be visited at certain times.

Croydon, notable people

The following people have an association with Croydon:-

  • Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift,– (c. 1530-1604), is buried in the parish church of St. John the Baptist, Croydon.
  • Art critic and social theorist, John Ruskin, – (1819 – 1900) spent much of childhood in Croydon at his mother's home and visited often as an adult.
  • John Horniman , – (1803-1893), and Frederick John Horniman (1835-1906), tea merchants, collectors and public benefactors, lived at Coombe Cliff, Coombe Road, Croydon
  • Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, – (1823-1913), lived at 44 St Peter's Road, Croydon
  • Actor and dramatist Miles Malleson, – (1888 - 1969), was born in Croydon.
  • French Novelist Emile Zola, – (1840-1902), lived at The Queen's Hotel, 122 Church Road, Upper Norwood, Croydon SE19 between 1898-1899.
  • William Ford Robertson Stanley , – (1829-1909), inventor, collector, manufacturer scientific instruments and philanthropist, lived in Croydon , and founded and designed the halls and technical school known as Stanley Halls, 12 South Norwood Hill, South Norwood, SE25 , Croydon .
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, – (1859-1930) author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, lived at 12 Tennison Road, South Norwood, Croydon SE25 between 1891-1894.
  • Author D.H. Lawrence, – (1885-1930) lived at 12 Colworth Road, Addiscombe, Croydon, Surrey 1908 –1912 while teacher at Davidson Road School.
  • Composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor , – (1875-1912), lived at 30 Dagnall Park, South Norwood, SE25 Croydon
  • Comic actor Will Hay, – (1888-1949), lived at 45, The Chase, Norbury, SW16 Croydon between 1927-1934.
  • Film director Sir David Lean, – (1908 –1991) was born in Croydon on 25 March in 1908.
  • Actress, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, – (1907–1991) was born :in Croydon and lived in George Street as a child, (She is honoured in the naming of the Ashcroft Theatre, part of the Fairfield Halls).
  • Comedian Roy Hudd was born in Croydon in 1936 .
  • Electrical engineer & inventor of the Teleprinter, Frederick George Creed , (1871-1957), lived and died at 20 Outram Road, Addiscombe , Croydon
  • Super model Kate Moss was born in Croydon on January 16, 1974.
  • Comedian Ronnie Corbett, lives in Shirley Park Croydon
  • Arsenal footballer Ian Wright MBE lives in Shirley Croydon.
  • Illustrator and artist Cicely Mary Barker who created the famous Flower Faries books was born in Croydon (1895 - 1973. She studied at the Croydon School of Art.

Croydon Districts

The following london suburbs form part of the London Borough of Croydon:

Croydon railway stations

See also

External Links

Greater London | London Flag of England

London boroughs : Barking and Dagenham | Barnet | Bexley | Brent | Bromley | Camden | City of London | Croydon | Ealing | Enfield | Greenwich | Hackney | Hammersmith and Fulham | Haringey | Harrow | Havering | Hillingdon | Hounslow | Islington | Kensington and Chelsea | Kingston | Lambeth | Lewisham | Merton | Newham | Redbridge | Richmond | Southwark | Sutton | Tower Hamlets | Waltham Forest | Wandsworth | Westminster

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Last updated: 11-07-2004 05:12:02