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Croydon is a large town in southern Greater London, about 9.5 miles south of Charing Cross. With an extensive shopping district and night-time economy, it is one of the largest commercial areas outside central London. The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth was the world’s first public railway, opening in 1803. The building of the railway facilitated Croydon’s growth as a commuter town for London – a status that remains to this day. The growing town attracted many new buildings including Fairfield Halls arts centre, the Whitgift shopping centre (the largest in Greater London until 2008), and the Warehouse Theatre. Westfield Croydon is expected to open in the next few years, replacing the old Whitgift Centre. But, aside from the large central shopping district, Croydon also has a number of smaller shopping areas to the southern end of the town. Here, you will find a good number of popular restaurants, some of which are frequently listed in the Good Food Guide.
Perhaps famous for its tall buildings, Croydon is home to the former Nestlé Tower, which has since been converted into flats. Luxury apartments have sprung up in recent years, notably Saffron Square and One Landsdowne Road, and further developments are planned for the town including a new art gallery, college and office buildings.
Croydon Clocktower houses a state-of-the-art library, a performance venue, the David Lean Cinema and the Museum of Croydon, which details the town’s history. It is a must-visit for any newcomer to find out more about Croydon’s heritage, as well as enjoy all that the place has to offer when it comes to arts and culture. Speaking of which, Croydon has been the setting for Channel 4 comedy, Peep Show, while The Bill was filmed here for many years.
In the past, Croydon was a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing, and by the early 20th century, it had become an important industrial area for car manufacture and metal working. More recently, these sectors have been replaced by the retail and service economy, brought about by the town’s redevelopment. Harking back to its roots in car manufacturing, Croydon is home today to the headquarters of Zotefoams, a producer of foams for global use in sports, construction, marine, automation, medical equipment and aerospace.
The town lies on a transport corridor between central London and the south coast of England, to the north of two high gaps in the North Downs, one taken by the A23 Brighton Road, and the other by the A22 from Purley to the M25 Godstone interchange. East Croydon is a major hub of the national railway system, with frequent fast services to London, Brighton and southern England, while West Croydon station is served by London Overground and Southern services. The town is unique, given its Tramlink light railway transport system, which is the only one in Greater London. What’s more, Croydon Airport was the main airport for London until it was superseded by Heathrow and Gatwick. The air terminal, now known as Airport House, has been since restored and a museum opens there about once a month.
Croydon has a number of fee-paying schools, special educational needs schools, three single sex Catholic state schools (John Fisher School, Coloma Convent Girls’ School and St Joseph’s College), and is home to Croydon College, which has over 13,000 students attending one of its three sub-colleges (the sub-colleges 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, while Croydon Skills and Enterprise College delivers training and education opportunities.
As you might expect, most of the property sales in Croydon are flats, which sell for an average of £242,751, while the overall average price is around £326,920. Certainly, the schools and proximity to central London are two big reasons why Croydon’s prices are showing no sign of rapidly falling.
Finally, did you know that Crystal Palace Football Club has been based here since 1924? They now occupy a purpose-built stadium called Selhurst Park in the north of the borough.