A backward glance that could inspire view of the future

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.

Yes, this is what was where the entrance to the Whitgift Centre from North End stands now - what was once Trinity School

Yes, this is what was where the entrance to the Whitgift Centre from North End stands now – what was once Trinity School

The historic pictures, some of which are around a century old, have been discovered by members of the Lost Croydon Facebook group.

Purley Way Swimming Pool, Croydon, Opened in 1935 and Closed in 1979, One hot day in the mid. 1960s they were only half a dozen people short of 10,000 in thereThe 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.

Waddon Mill in Mill Lane, around 1900The 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.

Purley railway station c.1900Part 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.

Spout Hill walking down towards Addington Village, Croydon, 1945Our 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.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to A backward glance that could inspire view of the future

  1. Purley Station, originally named as Godstone Road station, was not a great success and was closed in 1847 as not many people lived there with more people living around Reedham.

  2. The demolished Scarbrook Road site is still empty except for car parking.

  3. In the spirit of memories of things past…or lost..perhaps you should have included photos of the old power station B.It was once so vital in the supply of coal-fired electricity to south London.It,too depended on the rail tracks,and pylon tracks,that surrounded it.

    But wait…the viridor historical reconstruction society has been prevailed upon by a group of well meaning councillors to construct a replacement.To put us in touch with the old days.
    Did you know that the London smog of ’52,that was so deadly,was researched by my old prof (then an SR) at Bart’s?He wanted a non central London hospital’s mortality figures to check he wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill…..you know how medics are prone to exaggerate (tobaco,alcohol,junk food etc.)
    Here’s where a photo of the Old Croydon General would have come in handy….it provided the odd 100 deaths in the relevant period of counting…and is included in an original BMJ paper at the time.
    Happy days!…plus ca change!

  4. This is my attempt to show what Croydon used to look like :


    I’ve used that same picture of the boy looking at the old school.

  5. Mac says:

    Very interesting… thanks a million.

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