The Bourne Legacy: plaques walk that charts Coulsdon history

A local history society has pulled together a special walk that links a series of sites of interest in and around Coulsdon and Old Coulsdon.

Coulsdon Court – the second plaque on the Bourne Society’s history walk

The Bourne Society has 23 blue plaques on display around the area, and their walk uses nine of them, starting in Old Coulsdon and ending at Coulsdon South Station.

Plaque No1 is at Coulsdon Church of England School on Jubilee Way. It commemorates the first local school in Coulsdon.

Plaque No2 is on Coulsdon Manor Hotel and commemorates the manor house of the family of the poet, Lord Byron. After leaving this one you can walk down Byron Avenue and through Hillars Heath and over the footbridge which was recently decorated with murals showing other parts of Coulsdon’s history.

Plaque No3 is on the flats in Station Approach Road and commemorates the site of the former Coulsdon North Station and the train crash of 1910.

The route recalls some gruesome incidents in the area’s history, too

Plaque No4 is on Coulsdon Town Station and commemorates the change of name in 2011 from Smitham, more than 100 years after the town had changed its name from Smitham Bottom to Coulsdon.

Plaque No5 is on the side of the Aldi supermarket and commemorates the Red Lion Pub which stood on this site for more than 300 years.

Plaque No6 on this history walk route is on the old flint stone building which is now used as Bright Horizon’s nursery. This commemorates the first purpose-built school in Smitham Bottom.

Plaques No7 and No8 are both on the front of the Comrades’ Club.

The Bourne Society blue plaque walk steps back through history

The first of these commemorates distance runner Gordon Pirie, the holder of five world records and Olympic silver medallist at the 1956 Melbourne Games. He lived in Mead Way and was a member of South London Harriers, whose clubhouse is behind the Comrades Club, used for cross-country matches and training runs across the Downs – just as Pirie did in his day.

Mrs Pankhurst was very popular when she visited Coulsdon

The second plaque at this location marks Smitham Parish Hall which was used as a school and church prior to the building of Smitham School and St Andrew’s Church. Emmeline Pankhurst spoke there in 1911 in support of votes for women.

Charlie King, of the East Coulson Residents’ Association which helped to put together this unguided walk through centuries of Coulsdon says that this is probably his favourite of all the Bourne Society plaques.

“Such was the size of the crowds,” he says, “when Mrs Pankhurst spoke on votes for women, she had to do it three times – in the Parish Hall, the Hall at the rear and finally in the street.”

Plaque No9 is at Coulsdon South Station and commemorates the opening of the station on the Brighton line in 1889, before being renamed Coulsdon and Cane Hill Station in 1896.

To locate the other 14 Bourne Society blue plaques, visit their website by clicking here.

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