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The London Borough of Croydon is a London borough in South London, England and is part of Outer London. It covers an area of 87km2 and is the largest London borough by population. It is the southernmost borough of London. The borough is now one of London's leading business, financial and cultural centres, and its influence in entertainment and the arts contribute to its status as a major metropolitan centre.
At its centre is the historic town of Croydon from which the borough takes its name. Croydon is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and from a small market town has expanded into one of the most populous areas on the fringe of London. Central Croydon is the civic centre of the borough and houses the largest office and retail centre in the south east of England outside Central London.
Croydon Council and its predecessor Croydon Corporation unsuccessfully applied for city status in 1954, 2000 and 2002. The area is currently going through a large regeneration project called Croydon Vision 2020 which is predicted to attract more businesses and tourists to the area as well as backing Croydon's bid to become London's Third City. Since 2003 Croydon has been certified as a Fairtrade borough by the Fairtrade Foundation. It was the first London Borough to have Fairtrade status which is awarded on a certain criteria.
The London Borough of Croydon was formed in 1965 from the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District and the County Borough of Croydon. It is now governed by a cabinet-style council created in 2001. The name Croydon comes from Crogdene or Croindone, named by the Saxons in the 8th century when they settled here, although the area had been inhabited since prehistoric times. It is thought to derive 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. Another opinion holds that the name derives from the Old French croie dune, meaning "chalk hill", since Croydon stands at the northern edge of the chalk hills called the North Downs.
By the time of the Norman invasion Croydon had a church, a mill and around 365 inhabitants as recorded in the Domesday Book. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Lanfranc lived at Croydon Palace which still stands. Visitors included Thomas Beckett (another Archbishop), and royal figures such as King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Croydon carried on through the ages as a prosperous market town, they produced charcoal, tanned leather, and ventured into brewing. Croydon was served by the Surrey Iron Railway, the first public railway (horse drawn) in the world, in 1803, and by the London to Brighton rail link in the mid-1800s, helping it to become the largest town in Surrey.
In the 1900s Croydon became known for industries such as metal working, car manufacture and its aerodrome, Croydon Airport. The aerodrome became the largest in London and the main terminal for international air freight into the capital. 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. British Airways used the airport for a short period of time after redirecting from Northolt Aerodrome, and Croydon was the operating base for Imperial Airways. 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. It was superseded as the main airport by both London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airport. The air terminal, now known as Airport House, has been restored and has a hotel and museum in it. It was partly due to the airport that Croydon suffered heavy bomb damage during World War Two.
In the late 1950s and through the 1960s the council commercialized the centre of Croydon with massive development of office blocks and the Whitgift Centre which was formerly the biggest in town shopping centre in Europe. The centre was officially opened in October 1970 by the Duchess of Kent. The original Whitgift School there had moved to Haling Park, South Croydon in the 1930s; the replacement school on the site, Whitgift Middle School, now the Trinity School of John Whitgift, moved to Shirley Park in the 1960s when the buildings were demolished.
The present borough council unsuccessfully applied for city status in 2000 and again in 2002. If it had been successful it would have been the third local authority in Greater London to hold that status along with the City of London and the City of Westminster. At present the London Borough of Croydon is the second most populous Local government district of England without city status, Kirklees being the first. It is said that there applications were turned down due to a lack of a cathedral in the borough, a historic recommendation for cities.
Croydon is currently going through a vigorous regeneration plan, called Croydon Vision 2020. This will change the urban planning of Central Croydon completely. Its main aims are to make Croydon London's Third City and the hub of retail, business, culture and living in South London and South East England. The plan was showcased in a series of events called Croydon Expo. It was aimed at business and residents in the London Borough of Croydon to demonstrate the £3.5bn development projects the Council wishes to see in Croydon in the next ten years. There have also been exhibitions for regional districts of Croydon, including Waddon, South Norwood and Woodside, Purley, New Addington and Coulsdon. Examples of upcoming architecture featured in the expo can easily be found to the centre of the borough in the form of the Croydon Gateway site and the Cherry Orchard Road Towers.
The governance of the borough is by Croydon Council, which is responsible for the administration of Croydon. Croydon shares its London Assembly member with neighboring Sutton. It is a safe Conservative seat with the south of Croydon and parts of Sutton traditionally voting towards the Conservatives. The current Assembly Member is Steve O'Connell who was elected to the assembly in 2008 with a majority of 43%. Croydon is part of the London constituency in the European Parliament. Between 1979 and 1984 it formed part of the London South constituency, followed by London South and Surrey East between 1984 and 1999 before the adoption of proportional representation.
Politics of Croydon Council
The council consists of 70 councillors elected in 24 wards. From 1994 to 2006 the Labour Party controlled the council. Thirty-seven Labour and 31 Conservative councillors were elected in the 2002 elections, plus a lone Liberal Democrat, bolstered by a subsequent defection of a councillor who had originally been elected as a Conservative, defected to Labour, went back to the Conservatives and spent some time as an independent.
At the 2006 local elections the Conservatives regained control of the council after gaining 12 seats, taking ten seats from Labour in Addiscombe, Waddon and Norwood and the single Liberal Democrat seat in Coulsdon. They had seen 6% swings from Labour to Conservative in the two previous by-elections, each won by the incumbent party. Since the 2006 elections, a by-election in February 2007 saw a large swing back to Labour from the Conservatives. The next election is due to take place in May 2010 along with all the other councils in London.
From February 2005 until May 2006 the Leader of Croydon Council was Labour Co-operative Councillor Tony Newman, succeeding Hugh Malyan. Mike Fisher, Conservative group leader since May 2005, was named as Council Leader following the Conservative victory. Croydon is a cabinet-style council, and the Leader heads a ten-person cabinet, its members responsible for areas such as education or planning. There is a Shadow Cabinet drawn from the principal opposition party. A backbench cross-party scrutiny and overview committee is in place to hold the executive cabinet to account.
The borough is covered by three parliamentary constituencies for the Westminster Parliament, these are Croydon North, Croydon Central and Croydon South. There are 24 wards which are represented on Croydon Council. All Croydon Council seats were up for re-election for the first time since the 2002 elections, during the election on 4 May 2006. Previously Labour held control of the council. In the election, the Conservatives took 10 seats from Labour and 1 from the Liberal Democrats.
The controlling and majority group in the borough is the Conservative Party. Since the defection of a Labour councillor to the Conservatives, the composition of the council has been 44 Conservatives, 26 Labour, and no Liberal Democrats.
2010: Cons. 37 (-7) Labour 33 (+7).
2014 Labour 40 Cons 33.
For much of its history, Croydon Council was controlled by the Conservative Party or conservative-leaning independents. Former Croydon councillors include current MP Andrew Pelling, former MPs Vivian Bendall, David Congdon, Geraint Davies and Reg Prentice, London Assembly member Valerie Shawcross, Lord Bowness, John Donaldson, Baron Donaldson of Lymington (Master of the Rolls) and H.T. Muggeridge, MP and father of Malcolm Muggeridge. The first Mayor of the newly created County Borough was Jabez Balfour, later a disgraced Member of Parliament. Former Conservative Director of Campaigning, Gavin Barwell, has been a Croydon councillor since 1998 and will contest the Croydon Central seat for the Conservatives after the resignation of Andrew Pelling at the next general election.
Some 10,000 people work directly or indirectly for the council, in its main offices in Taberner House or in its schools, care homes, housing offices or work depots. The council is generally well-regarded, having made important improvements in education and social services. However, there have been concerns over benefits, leisure services and waste collection. Although the council has one of London's lower rates of council tax, there are inevitable claims that it is too high and that resources are wasted.
The Mayor of Croydon for 2008-09 is Councillor Jonathan Driver. The Leader is Cllr Mike Fisher and the Deputy Leaders are Cllr Tim Pollard and Cllr Dudley Mead. The Chief Executive since 7 July 2007 has been Jon Rouse.
Croydon Town Hall on Katharine Street in Central Croydon houses the committee rooms, the mayor's and other councillors' offices, electoral services and the arts and heritage services. Croydon's Victorian Town Hall Croydon's Victorian Town Hall
The present Town Hall is Croydon's third. The first town hall is thought to have been built in either 1566 or 1609. The second was built in 1808 to serve the growing town but was demolished after the present town hall was erected in 1895. The present town hall was designed by local architect Charles Henman and was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 19 May 1896. It was constructed in red brick, sourced from Wrotham in Kent, with Portland stone dressings and green Westmoreland slates for the roof. It also housed the court and most central council employees.
Parts, including the former court rooms, have been converted into the Museum of Croydon and exhibition galleries. The original public library is now a cinema, part of the Croydon Clocktower. The Braithwaite Hall is used for events and performances. The town hall was renovated in the mid-1990s and the imposing central staircase, long closed to the public and kept for councillors only, was re-opened in 1994. The civic complex, meanwhile, was substantially added to, with buildings across Mint Walk and the 19-floor Taberner House to house the rapidly expanding corporation's employees.
Ruskin House is the headquarters of Croydon's Labour, Trade Union and Co-operative movements and is itself a co-operative with shareholders from organisations across the three movements. In the nineteenth century, Croydon was a bustling commercial centre of London. It was said that, at the turn of the twentieth century, approximately £10,000 was spent in Croydon's taverns and inns every week. For the early labour movement, then, it was natural to meet in the town's public houses, in this environment. However, the temperance movement was equally strong, and Georgina King Lewis, a keen member of the Croydon United Temperance Council, took it upon herself to establish a dry centre for the labour movement. The first Ruskin House was highly successful, and there has been two more since. The current house was officially opened in 1967 by the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. Today, Ruskin House continues to serve as the headquarters of the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative movements in Croydon, hosting a range of meetings and being the base for several labour movement groups. Office tenants include the headquarters of the Communist Party of Britain and Croydon Labour Party. Geraint Davies, the MP for Croydon Central, had offices in the building, until he was defeated by Andrew Pelling and is now the Labour representative standing for Swansea West in Wales.
Taberner House was built between 1964 and 1967, designed by architect H. Thornley, with Allan Holt and Hugh Lea as borough engineers. Although the council had needed extra space since the 1920s, it was only with the imminent creation of the London Borough of Croydon that action was taken. The building is in classic 1960s style, praised at the time but subsequently much derided. It has its elegant upper slab block narrowing towards both ends, a formal device which has been compared to the famous Pirelli Tower in Milan. It was named after Ernest Taberner OBE, Town Clerk from 1937 to 1963.
Taberner House houses most of the council's central employees and its 'one-stop shop' is the main location for the public to access information and services, particularly with respect to housing.
Geography and climate
The borough is in the deep south of London, with the M25 orbital motorway stretching to the south of it, between Croydon and Tandridge. In the north and east of Croydon the authority mainly borders the London Borough of Bromley and in the north west the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The boroughs of Sutton and Merton are located directly to the west. It is at the head of the River Wandle, just to the north of a significant gap in the North Downs. It lies 10 miles (16 km) south of London, and the earliest settlement may have been a Roman staging post on the London-Portslade road, although conclusive evidence has not yet been found. The main town centre houses a great variety of well-known stores on North End and two shopping centres. It was pedestrianised in 1989 to attract people back to the town centre. Another shopping centre called Park Place, is planned to be built by 2012.
The CR postcode area covers most of the south and centre of the London Borough of Croydon while the other parts in the north are covered by SW and SE postcodes include the areas of South Norwood and Selhurst, Upper Norwood, West Norwood, and Norbury and Streatham.
Districts in the London Borough of Croydon include Addington, a small village to the east of Croydon which until 2000 was poorly linked to the rest of the borough as it was without any railway or light rail stations with only a few patchy bus services to rely on. Addiscombe is a town just northeast of the centre of Croydon, and is popular with commuters to Central London due to its close proximity to the busy East Croydon station. Ashburton, to the northeast of Croydon, is mostly home to residential houses and flats, being named after Ashburton House, one of the three big houses in the Addiscombe area. Broad Green is a small district, centred on a large green with many homes and local shops in West Croydon. Coombe is an area, just east of Croydon, which has barely been urbanised and has retained its collection of large houses fairly intact. Coulsdon, southwest of Central Croydon, which has retained a good mix of traditional high street shops as well as a large number of restaurants for its size. Croydon is the principal area of the borough, Crystal Palace is an area north of Croydon, which is shared with the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Bromley. Fairfield, just northeast of Croydon, holds the Fairfield Halls and the village of Forestdale, to the east of Croydon's main area, commenced work in the late 1960s and completed in the mid-70s to create a larger town on what was previously open ground. Hamsey Green is a place on the plateau of the North Downs, south of Croydon.] Kenley, again south of the centre, lie within the London Green Belt and features a landscape dominated by green space. New Addington, to the east, is a large local authority estate surrounded by open countryside and golf courses. Norbury, to the northwest, is a suburb with a large ethnic population. Norwood New Town is a part of the Norwood triangle, to the north of Croydon. Monks Orchard is a small district made up of large houses and open space in the northeast of the borough. Pollards Hill is a residential district with houses on roads, which are lined with pollarded lime trees, stretching to Norbury. Purley, to the south, is a main town whose name derives from "pirlea", which means 'Peartree lea'. Sanderstead, to the south, is a village mainly on high ground at the edge of suburban development in Greater London. Selhurst is a town, to the north of Croydon, which holds the nationally known school, The BRIT School. Selsdon is a suburb which was developed during the inter-war period in the 1920s and 1930s, and is remarkable for its many Art Deco houses, to the southwest of Croydon Centre. Shirley, is to the east of Croydon, and holds Shirley Windmill. South Croydon, to the south of Croydon, is a locality which holds local landmarks such as The Swan and Sugarloaf public house and independent Whitgift School part of the Whitgift Foundation. South Norwood, to the north, is in common with West Norwood and Upper Norwood, named after a contraction of Great North Wood and has a population of around 14,590. Thornton Heath is a town, to the northwest of Croydon, which holds Croydon's principal hospital Mayday. Upper Norwood is, west to Croydon, on a mainly elevated area of the borough. Waddon is a residential area, mainly based on the Purley Way retail area, to the west of the borough. West Croydon is west of Croydon and Woodside is located to the northeast of the borough, with streets based around Woodside Green, a small sized area of green land. And finally Whyteleafe is a town, right to the edge of Croydon with some areas in the Surrey district of Tandridge.
Croydon is a gateway to the south from Central London, and therefore has a number of major roads running through it. Purley Way on the A23 road was built to by-pass Croydon town centre on which the A23 once did, is one of the busiest roads in the borough, and has been the site of several major retail developments including one of only 17 IKEA stores in the United Kingdom. It carries on to Brighton Road which is the main route running towards the south from Croydon to Purley and continues on the A23. The centre of Croydon is very congested, and the urban planning has since become out of date and quite inadequate, due to the expansion of Croydon's main shopping area and office blocks. Wellesley Road, is a dual carriageway that cuts through the centre of the town, and makes it hard to interchange between the civic centre's two railway stations. Croydon Vision 2020 includes a plan for a more pedestrian-friendly replacement. It has also been named as one of the worst roads for cyclists in the area. Construction of the Croydon Underpass beneath the junction of George Street and Wellesley Road/Park Lane during the early Sixties started, with the main aim to prevent traffic congestion on Park Lane, situated above the underpass. The Croydon Flyover on the other hand is situated near the underpass and next to Taberner House. It mainly leads traffic on to Duppas Hill, towards Purley Way with the intention for easy links with Sutton and Kingston upon Thames further afield. The major junction on the flyover is for Old Town, which is also a large three-lane road.
The skyline of Croydon has significantly changed over the past 50 years. High rise buildings, mainly office blocks, now dominate the skyline. The most notable of these buildings include Croydon Council's headquarters Taberner House, which has been compared to the famous Pirelli Tower of Milan, and the Nestlé Tower, the UK headquarters of Nestlé
In recent years, the development of tall buildings, such as the approved Croydon Vocational Tower and Wellesley Square, has been encouraged in the London Plan, which will lead to the erection of new skyscrapers over the next few years as London goes through a high-rise boom.
No.1 Croydon, formerly the NLA Tower, Britain's 88th tallest tower, close to East Croydon station, is an example of 1970s architecture. The tower has been nicknamed the 50p building, as it resembles many 50p pieces in a pile. Lunar House is another high-rise building. Like other government office buildings on Wellesley Road, such as Apollo House, the name of the building was inspired by the US moon landings (In the Croydon suburb of New Addington there is a public house, built during the same period, called The Man on the Moon).
A new generation of buildings are being considered by the council as part of Croydon Vision 2020, so that the borough doesn't lose its title of having the "largest office space in the south east", excluding Central London. Projects such as Wellesley Square, which will be a mix of residential and retail with an eye-catching colour design and 100 George Street a proposed modern office block are incorporated in this vision.
Notable events that have happened to Croydon's skyline include the Millennium project to create the largest single urban lighting project ever. It was created for the buildings of Croydon to illuminate them for the third millennium. Not only did this project give new lighting to the buildings, but it provided an opportunity to project onto them images and words, mixing art and poetry with coloured light, and also displaying public information after dark. Apart from increasing night time activity in Croydon and thereby reducing the fear of crime, it helped to promote the sustainable use of older buildings by displaying them in a more positive way.
According to the 2001 census, Croydon has a population of around 269,100. In 2005 this was recorded to have risen up to 342,700, making Croydon the ninth most populous local authority in England out of 354 boroughs. 159,111 were males, with 171,476 females. In 2001 the number of people per hectare in Croydon was 38.21, in London 45.62, and in England 3.77. The mean age of the residents of Croydon was 33.75 and 233,748 out of 330,587 residents described their health as 'good'.
White is the majority ethnicity with over 72%, compared to 90% in England as a whole. Black or Black British was the second-largest ethnicity, over 13%; 11.3% is South Asian.
The most common householder type were owner occupied with only a small percentage rented. Many new housing schemes and developments are currently taking place in Croydon, such as The Exchange and Bridge House, IYLO, Wellesley Square and Altitude 25. The Metropolitan Police recorded a 10% fall in the number of crimes committed in Croydon, better than the rate which crime in London as a whole is falling, in 2006. Croydon has had the highest fall in the number of cases of violence against the person in South London, and is one of the top 10 safest local authorities in London. According to Your Croydon (a local community magazine) this is due to a stronger partnership struck between Croydon Council and the police. In 2007, overall crime figures across the borough saw decrease of 5%, with the number of incidents decreasing from 32,506 in 2006 to 30,862 in 2007. Croydon has five police stations. Croydon police station is on Park Lane in the centre of the town near the Fairfield Halls; South Norwood police station is a newly refurbished building just of the High Street; Norbury police station is on London Road; Kenley station is on Godstone Road; and New Addington police station is on Addington Village road.
There are a large number of attractions and places of interest all across the borough of Croydon, ranging from historic sites in the north and south to modern towers in the centre. Shirley Windmill Shirley Windmill
Croydon Airport was once London's main airport, but closed on 30 September 1959 due to the expansion of London and the need of more room at the airport which was impossible to provide, so Heathrow International Airport took over as London's main airport. It is now disused and is a tourist attraction. The Croydon Clocktower arts venue was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. It includes the David Lean Cinema (built in memory of David Lean), the Museum of Croydon and Croydon Central Library. The Museum of Croydon (formerly known as Croydon Lifetimes Museum) highlights Croydon in the past and the present and currently features high-profile exhibitions including the Riesco Collection, The Art of Dr Seuss and the Whatever the Weather gallery. Shirley Windmill is a working windmill and one of the few surviving large windmills in Surrey, built in 1854. It is Grade II listed and received a £218,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Addington Palace is an 18th century mansion in Addington which was originally built as Addington Place in the 16th century. The palace became the official second residence of six Archbishops, five of whom are buried in St Mary's Church and churchyard nearby. North End is the main pedestrianised shopping road in Croydon, having Centrale to one side and the Whitgift Centre to the other. The Warehouse Theatre is a popular theatre for mostly young performers and is due to get a face-lift on the Croydon Gateway site. The Nestlé Tower is the UK headquarters of Nestlé and is one of the tallest towers in England, which is due to be re-fitted during the Park Place development. The Fairfield Halls is a well known concert hall and exhibition centre, opened in 1962. It is frequently used for BBC recordings and was formerly the home of ITV's World of Sport. It includes the Ashcroft Theatre and the Arnhem Gallery. Croydon Palace was the summer residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury for over 500 years and included regular visitors such as Henry III and Queen Elizabeth I. It is thought to have been built around 960. Croydon Cemetery is a large cemetery and crematorium west of Croydon and is most famous for the gravestone of Derek Bentley, who was wrongly hanged in 1953. Mitcham Common is an area of common land partly shared with the boroughs of Sutton and Merton. Almost 500,000 years ago, Mitcham Common formed part of the river bed of the River Thames. The BRIT School is a performing Arts & Technology school, owned by the BRIT Trust (known for the BRIT Awards Music Ceremony). Famous former students include Kellie Shirley, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Kate Nash, Dane Bowers, Katie Melua and Lyndon David-Hall. Grants is an entertainment venue in the centre of Croydon which includes a Vue cinema and the Tiger Tiger nightclub. Taberner House houses the main offices of Croydon Council, and was built between 1964 and 1967. It has been compared to the Pirelli Tower in Milan. Surrey Street Market has a Royal Charter dating back to 1276 linking it to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The market is regularly used as a location for TV, film and advertising. Beanos, a collectors' record store that has been in Croydon for over three decades, was once the largest second-hand record shop in Europe. The Parish Church of St John the Baptist is a large church dating from the 15th century. It was largely destroyed by fire in 1867 and rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It is the burial place of six Archbishops of Canterbury with monuments to Archbishops Sheldon and Whitgift. BedZED, Beddington Zero Energy Development, is on the outskirts of the borough.
There are two main interchanges for all public transport modes (national and local rail, tram, and local buses) at West Croydon and East Croydon station.
National and international travel
Croydon is linked into the national motorway network via the M23 and M25 orbital motorway. The M25 skirts the south of the borough, linking Croydon with other parts London and the surrounding counties; the M23 branches from the M25 close to Coulsdon, linking the town with the South Coast, Crawley, Reigate, and London Gatwick Airport. The A23 connects the borough with the motorways. The A23 is the major trunk road through Croydon, linking it with Central London, East Sussex, Horsham, and Littlehaven. The old London to Brighton road, passes through the west of the borough on Purley Way, bypassing the commercial centre of Croydon which it once did.
The Brighton Main Line railway route south from 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 Southeast, and the South Coast. The main station for all these services is East Croydon station in the centre of the town centre. East Croydon station is the largest and busiest station in Croydon, third busiest in London, excluding Travelcard Zone 1. The station at West Croydon serves all trains travelling west except the fastest. There are also more regional stations scattered around the borough. Passenger rail services through Croydon are provided by Southern, Southeastern, First Capital Connect and CrossCountry. A pilot scheme launched by the Strategic Rail Authority, Transport for London and three train operators is designed to encourage more passengers to travel off-peak. In full partnership with the South London Boroughs which includes Croydon, SWELTRAC, SELTRANS and the transport users group, the scheme promotes the advantages of off-peak travel following improvements to safety, travel connections and upgrading of station facilities. The Thameslink Programme (formerly known as Thameslink 2000), is a £3.5 billion major project to expand the Thameslink network from 51 to 172 stations spreading northwards to Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn and southwards to Guildford, Eastbourne, Horsham, Hove to Littlehampton, East Grinstead, Ashford and Dartford. The project includes the lengthening of platforms, station remodelling, new railway infrastructure (e.g. viaduct) and additional rolling stock. When implemented, First Capital Connect services would call at other stations in the borough including Purley and Norwood Junction.
The closest international airport to Croydon is London Gatwick Airport, which is located 19 miles (31 km) from the city centre. The airport opened on August 1930 and is a major international operational base for British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic. It currently handles around 35 million passengers a year making it London's second largest airport and the second busiest airport in the United Kingdom after Heathrow. Croydon Airport opened on 29 March 1920 but, due in part to its short runway and the expanding Gatwick Airport close by the final passenger scheduled flight departed on 30 September 1959. It used to be the operating base for Imperial Airways and was served by British Airways. London Heathrow Airport, London City Airport and London Luton Airport all lie within a two hours' drive of the city. Luton Airport is connected to Croydon by a direct train every hour.
The A23 and A22 roads are the major trunk roads through Croydon. These both run north-south, connecting to each other in Purley. The A22 connects Croydon, its starting point, to East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells, Uckfield, and Eastbourne. Other major roads generally radiate spoke-like from the city centre. Wellesley Road is an urban motorway which cuts through the middle of the central business district was constructed in the 1960s and includes an underpass, which allows traffic to avoid going into the town centre.
The hilly topography of Croydon and the lack of underground services in that part of South London is a reason for the extensive suburban and inter-urban railway network. Croydon is in the commuter belt to London as part of suburbia. There are several busy local rail routes running along the borough's towns, connecting it with London Bridge and London Victoria. These local routes mainly run on the Brighton Main Line and Sutton & Mole Valley Lines. As well as the main stations of East Croydon and West Croydon, there are several suburban stations at Norwood Junction, Purley, Coulsdon South and Kenley and more.
The light rail system Tramlink (Operated by Tramtrack Croydon, a wholly owned subsidy of Transport for London), opened in 2000, serves the borough and surrounding areas. Its 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 on. 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. An extension to Crystal Palace is currently being developed by Transport for London with the support of the council and the South London Partnership. This would improve public transport access to Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace Park and help to stimulate regeneration across the wider area. The extension could be in service by 2013. Other 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 Railway.
A sizeable bus infrastructure which is part of the London Buses network operates from a main hub at West Croydon station. The bus station at West Croydon is undergoing a major re-development to make it more modern and future-proof. There are also plans to create a new bus terminal at Park Place if the shopping centre is built. Addington Interchange is a regional bus terminal in Addington Village which has an interchange between route three and bus services in the remote area. Arriva London, part of Arriva, is one of the largest bus operators to serve Croydon along with Metrobus, Selkent, and National Express London. Recent developments have seen East London Bus Group taking over Stagecoach bus services in London. Unlike other places in the country, London's transport infrastructure is regulated and therefore is not subject to price wars between different companies with TfL setting a standard price for bus services which is currently set at 90p with an Oyster card. Services include buses to Central London, Purley Way, Bromley, Lewisham and a number of other civic centres in the south. London Buses route X26, the longest route in London, provides services to Heathrow Airport via Richmond and Sutton.
Although hilly, Croydon is compact and has few major trunk roads running through it. It is on one of the Connect2 schemes which are part of the National Cycle Network route running around Croydon. The North Downs, an area of outstanding natural beauty popular with both on- and off-road cyclists, is so close to Croydon that part of the park lies within the borough boundary, and there are routes into the park almost from the civic centre.
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 East London. It will also provide the main impetus for building a modern public transport interchange at West Croydon station linking tram, bus and rail. 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 services. Currently Croydon is one of only five London Boroughs not to have at least one London Underground station within its boundaries, and the closest tube station is apparently Morden tube station, 139 minutes away to the west.
Home Office policing in Croydon is provided by the Metropolitan Police. The force's Croydon arm have their head offices for policing on Park Lane next to the Fairfield Halls and Croydon College in central Croydon. Public transport is co-ordinated by Transport for London. Statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the London Fire Brigade, which has five stations in Croydon.
The Mayday University Hospital, built on a 19 acre site in Thornton Heath at the west of Croydon's boundaries with Merton, is a large NHS hospital administrated by Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust. Former names of the hospital include the Croydon Union Infirmary from 1885 to 1923 and the Mayday Road Hospital from 1923 to around 1930. It is a District General Hospital with a 24-hour accident and emergency department. NHS Direct has a regional centre based at the hospital. The NHS Trust also provides services at Purley War Memorial Hospital, in Purley. Croydon General Hospital was on London Road but services transferred to Mayday, as the size of this hospital was insufficient to cope with the growing population of the borough. Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre and the Emergency Minor Treatment Centre are other smaller hospitals operated by the Mayday in the borough. Cane Hill was a psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon.
Waste management is co-ordinated by the local authority. Unlike other waste disposal authorities in Greater London, Croydon's rubbish is collected independently and isn't part of a waste authority unit. Locally produced inert waste for disposal is sent to landfill in the south of Croydon. There have recently been calls by the ODPM to bring waste management powers to the Greater London Authority, giving it a waste function. The Mayor of London has made repeated attempts to bring the different waste authorities together, to form a single waste authority in London. This has faced significant opposition from existing authorities. However, it has had significant support from all other sectors and the surrounding regions managing most of London's waste. Croydon has the joint best recycling rate in London, at 36%. Croydon's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is EDF Energy Networks; there are no power stations in the borough. Thames Water manages Croydon's drinking and waste water; water supplies being sourced from several local reservoirs, including Beckton and King George VI. Before 1971, Croydon Corporation was responsible for water treatment in the borough.
London Fire Brigade
The borough of Croydon is 86.52kmsq, populating approximately 340,000 people. There are five fire stations within the borough; Addington (two pumping appliances), Croydon (two pumping appliances, incident response unit, fire rescue unit and a USAR appliance), Norbury (two pumping appliances), Purley (one pumping appliance) and Woodside (one pumping appliance). Purley has the largest station ground, but dealt with the fewest incidents during 2006/07.
The borough of Croydon has the most schools in London; 156. The fire stations, as part of the Community Fire Safety scheme, visited 49 schools in 2006/2007.
Overall, Croydon was ranked 92nd out of the all the Local Education Authorities – and 21st in Greater London – in National Curriculum assessment performance in 2007. In 2007, the Croydon LEA was ranked 81st out of 149 in the country – and 21st in Greater London – based on the percentage of pupils attaining at least 5 A*–C grades at GCSE including maths and English (37.8% compared with the national average of 46.7%). In 2007, Old Palace School of John Whitgift was the most successful school in Croydon at GCSE with 100% of the pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at A*–C grade including maths and English. The most successful public sector school was Coloma Convent Girls' School.
The borough compared with the other London boroughs has the highest amount of schools in it, due to the fact that 26% of its population are under 20 years old. They include primary schools (95), secondary schools (21) and four further education establishments. Croydon College has its main building in Central Croydon, it is a high rise building. John Ruskin College is one of the other colleges in the borough, located in Addington and Coulsdon College in Coulsdon. South Norwood has been the home of Spurgeon's College, a world-famous Baptist theological college, since 1923; Spurgeon's is located on South Norwood Hill and currently has some 1000 students. The London Borough of Croydon is the local education authority for the borough.
Below is a table which shows the results of the GCSE Examination Performance in Croydon schools in 2007.
The borough of Croydon has 14 libraries, a joint library and a mobile library. Many of the libraries where built a long time ago and therefore have become outdated, so the council started updating a few including Ashburton Library which moved from its former spot into the state-of-the-art Ashburton Learning Village complex which is on the former site of the old 'A Block' of Ashburton Community School which is now situated inside the centre. The library is now on 1 floor. This is what the council wanted to roll out around the borough but due to the cost of this one, it was decided that doing this would cost to much.
South Norwood Library, New Addington Library, Shirley Library, Thornton Heath Library, Selsdon Library, Sanderstead Library, Purley Library, Coulsdon Library and Bradmore Green Library are examples of older council libraries. The main library is Croydon Central Library which holds many references, newspaper archives and a tourist information point (one of three in South East London). Upper Norwood Library is a joint library with the London Borough of Lambeth. This means that both councils fund the library and its resources, but even though Lambeth have nearly doubled their funding for the library in the past several years Croydon has kept it the same, doubting the future of the library.
Sport and Leisure
The borough has been criticized in the past for not having enough leisure facilities, maintaining the position of Croydon as a three star borough. At the moment only three leisure centres are open for public use and two of these are expected to be closed down in the near future, with plans for only one of them to be re-built. Thornton Heath's ageing sports centre was recently knocked down, and replaced by a newer more modern leisure centre. South Norwood Leisure Centre was closed down in early 2006 so that it could be knocked completely down and re-designed from scratch like Thornton Heath, which would cost around £10 million.
In May 2006 the Conservative Party became in charge of Croydon and decided that doing this would cost too much money, so they came up with another idea of just re-furbishing the centre, although this decision did not come without controversy.
Purley Pool is to close soon, but a new "super-pool" is planned in Coulsdon. The aging New Addington Leisure Centre is also set to close but is to be re-built. A new leisure centre is also going to be built on the A23, southern end of Purley Way in Waddon.
Sport Croydon, currently is the commercial arm for leisure in the borough and the logo is seen somewhere in each of the centres. Fusion currently provides leisure services for the council which previously used Parkwood Leisure which itself provides services for nearby Lewisham.
Football teams include Crystal Palace F.C., which plays at Selhurst Park, in the Coca-Cola Championship. Coulsdon United F.C. (formerly Coulsdon Town F.C. before the merge with Salfords F.C.) are a team that currently play in the Combined Counties League Division One. Croydon Athletic F.C., whose local nickname is The Rams, is a football club based in Thornton Heath's Keith Tuckey Stadium and play in the Isthmian League Division One South, with Croydon F.C. who play at Croydon Sports Arena and Holmesdale, who were founded in South Norwood but currently playing on Oakley Road in Bromley, currently in the Kent League. Non-football teams that play in Croydon are Streatham-Croydon RFC, a historic rugby union club in Thornton Heath who play at Frant Road, as well as South London Storm Rugby League Club, based at Streatham's ground, who compete in the Rugby League Conference. The London Olympians are an American Football team that play in Division 1 South in the British American Football League.
Croydon has over 120 parks and open spaces, ranging from the 200 acre (80ha) Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve to many recreation grounds and sports fields scattered throughout the Borough.
Croydon aims to become one of the hearts of culture in London and the South East of England. This has been proved with the dedication the council has shown to projects such as the proposed Croydon Arena. Although, despite the aim, it has also cut funding to the Warehouse Theatre.
In 2005, Croydon Council drew up a Public Art Strategy, with a vision that is accessible and enhances people's enjoyment of their surroundings. The public art strategy delivered a new event called Croydon's Summer Festival hosted in Lloyd Park. The festival consits of two days of events. The first is called Croydon's World Party which is a free one day event with three stages featuring world, jazz and dance music from the UK and internationally. The final days event is the Croydon Mela, a day of music with a mix of traditional Asian culture and east meets western club beats across four stages as well as dozens of food stalls and a funfair. It has attracted crowds of over 50,000 people. The strategy also created a creative industries hub in Old Town, ensure public art is included in developments such as College Green and Croydon Gateway and investigate the possibility of gallery space in the Cultural Quarter.
The Warehouse Theare is a professional producing theatre opened in 1977 with one hundred seats based in an oak-beamed former cement Victorian warehouse. It has been acclaimed for its commitment to new writing, including its annual International Playwriting Festival, in partnership with the Extra Candoni Festival of Udine in Italy and Theatro Ena in Cyprus. Youth theatre is also important, with the resident Croydon Young Peoples' Theatre and including an annual collaboration with the Croydon-based Brit School. It is on the Gateway site which is going through a regeneration project. Stanhope's plan for the site is to include a 200 seat theatre custom-designed by Foster + Partners in their Ruskin Square development surrounded by a large new park. This will be paid for in full by Stanhope at a cost approaching £5 million. The Board of the Warehouse Theatre believes that this is the best option for securing a fully funded, workable and unique building. Arrowcroft's proposal is for an Arena-led scheme which initially didn't include the theatre. But this was changed to incorporate a replacement theatre as part of a condition of planning. It is proposed that it occupies one of the leisure units behind the Arena facing onto the plaza with a children's playground in front. The plan is to build a 200 seat theatre inside the leisure unit. The biggest problem with this scheme is that it would be built in one phase and requires the theatre to vacate the current theatre before the development begins. The theatre would then be without a home for a period of three years or more and would need a temporary location and additional funding to make this possible. The theatre will be launching its largest fundraising appeal in its 30 year history over the Autumn of 2008 to help it launch itself into the new building. Fundraising will be required for finishing touches to the new building, technical equipment, launch programme and a host of other vital expenditure to ensure the Warehouse Theatre is launched into its new future on a firm footing.
Fairfield Halls, Arnhem Gallery and the Ashcroft Theatre show productions that are held throughout the year such as drama, ballet, opera and pantomimes and can be converted to show films. It also contains the Arnhem Gallery civic hall and an art gallery. Other cultural activities, including shopping and exhibitions, are Surrey Street Market which is mainly a meat and vegetables market near the main shopping environment of Croydon. The market has a Royal Charter dating back to 1276. Airport House is a newly refurbished conference and exhibition centre inside part of Croydon Airport. The Whitgift Centre, the current main shopping centre in the borough is also one of the largest in-town shopping centres in the whole of Europe. Centrale, a new shopping centre that houses many more familiar names, as well as Croydon's House of Fraser. North End, the main shopping street, which holds both centres. Park Place, a shopping centre that is planned to be built in Central Croydon by Minerva. Croydon Arena is a proposed arena for the Gateway site which if built will feature more commercial exhibitions and sport events next to East Croydon station.
There are three local newspapers which operate within the borough, each with considerable history in the area. The Croydon Advertiser began life in 1869, and is the third-highest selling paid-for weekly newspaper in London. The Advertiser is also Croydon's major paid-for weekly paper and is on sale every Friday in five geographical editions: Croydon; Sutton & Epsom; Coulsdon & Purley; New Addington; and Caterham. The paper converted from a broadsheet to a compact (tabloid) format on 31 March 2006. It was bought by Northcliffe Media which is part of the Daily Mail and General Trust group on 6 July 2007. In 2008 it was given a new website as part of the This is network of brands across the United Kingdom. The Croydon Post is a free newspaper available across the borough and is operated by the Advertiser group. The circulation of the newspaper is notably more then the main title published by the Advertiser Group.
The Croydon Guardian is another local weekly paper, which is paid for at newsagents but free at Croydon Council libraries and via deliveries. The newspaper is published every Wednesday. The paper is owned by regional newspaper publisher Newsquest Media Group and is inside the South London arm. It is one of the best circulated local newspapers in London and has the highest circulation in Croydon with around one thousand more copies distributed than The Post.
The borough is served by the London regional versions of BBC and ITV coverage, from either the Crystal Palace or Croydon transmitters.
Capital Radio began broadcasting on October 1973 from Euston Tower, North London. The station, now owned by Gcap Media, broadcasts as Capital 95.8 from Leicester Square in Central London. The group also has a sister station on the medium wave frequency, known as Classic Gold Digital 1521. Local BBC radio is provided by BBC London 94.9. Large radio stations picked up by transmitters around Croydon are Kiss 100 London and Magic 105.4 FM from Bauer Radio, Choice FM London from GCap Media, Heart 106.2 from Global Radio UK, Virgin Radio from SMG and 102.2 Smooth Radio from Guardian Media Group.
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