Westfield and Hammerson are this weekend staging a public consultation for their Mall With No Name – or Mally McMallface, as our loyal reader has recommended, more than once.
Before visiting the exhibit in the Whitgift Centre, to peruse the various architects’ sketches and computer generated images of their latest “exciting”, “innovative” and doubtless “iconic” proposals for what is, after all, a shopping centre and big car park, we thought you might want to cast your gaze over some images of what Croydon really did look like, once.
There might even be some aspects of looking to the past that might inspire the view of the future.
The historic pictures, some of which are around a century old, have been discovered by members of the Lost Croydon Facebook group.
The Purley Way lido used to be hugely popular during the hot summer days. Now, of course, it is a Wyevales garden centre – the shapely 1920s diving boards preserved as a reminder – while the council-run Water Palace which was built to replace it has also long gone.
Funny thing is, there used to be a (indoor) pool in central Croydon, at Scarbrook Road and which, like the school in the top picture, was bulldozed to make way for “progress”. There were frequent suggestions that a replacement might be built somewhere in the town centre which never came to anything. A pool as part of the leisure offer in the new supermall has never been suggested.
The developers of the £1.4 billion Hammersfield supermall have regularly promised 5,000 new jobs as a consequence of their vast scheme, though they have tended to be less forthcoming whenever asked what sort of jobs these might be. The reality is that most of the jobs seem likely to be in retail – a business sector which is shrinking year-by-year, as ever more sales moves online.
There was a time when Croydon and the surrounding areas had thriving and varied industries, from the factories along the Purley Way near London’s first airport, to Waddon Mill, on Mill Lane, as pictured above around 1900, when the River Wandle was a thriving hub of industry, providing jobs for a range of skills and crafts.
Part of Croydon’s great attraction is its transport infrastructure, much of which is based on the Victorian railway network. The picture above shows Purley Station in around 1900, when it appears that the railway served few commuters as we would understand them today.
Our journey down memory lane ends with a stroll along Spout Hill, looking towards Addington Village. This image is from 1945, when Croydon was surrounded by many more open fields and countryside than the sprawl of suburbia we know today.
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