Emmeline Pankhurst and Britain’s first public railway are the latest additions to the Coulsdon finial history and art trail, a community project designed and managed by local residents.
The first three finials – small, stylised metal models – were positioned atop lampposts and signposts early this year.
“These finials commemorate the history of Coulsdon and Smitham Bottom and were selected from a list of suggestions that were put together from a public consultation by Pauline Payne when she was secretary of East Coulsdon Residents’ Association,” Charlie King, one of the movers behind the project, said.
Emmeline Pankhurst’s finial has been positioned on Brighton Road. Pankhurst visited Coulsdon in April 1911 to speak on Votes for Women.
She was due to speak at Smitham Parish Hall (now the site of the Comrades’ Club). The crowd was so big that she had to speak three times: once in Smitham Parish Hall, again in an adjoining hall, and finally to those in the street.
The second new finial is the Surrey Iron Railway, a horse-drawn freight railway which ran from Wandsworth to Merstham via Croydon and Coulsdon. Operating from 1805 to 1838, it was Britain’s first public railway.
The railway crossed Coulsdon on a bridge over Chipstead Valley Road and travelled along the embankment which is still visible at the rear of the Lion Green car park.
The Surrey Iron Railway finial is at the entrance to Lion green car park, with the remaining embankment as a backdrop. The finial is based on the picture of the bridge over Chipstead Valley Road which is on display at the National Railway Museum in York.
The first three finials represent Cuthraed, the Saxon warrior who founded the first settlement around 648AD; Greater Yellow Rattle, an important and rare wild plant that grows on Farthing Downs and Happy Valley; and some stumps to commemorate one of the first games of cricket, played on Lion Green.
In total, King and Lewis White, the team behind the project, plan on having 12 finials dotted around the area.
Made of metal and carefully designed and coloured, each finial costs between £450 and £600 to make and install.
The first five have been paid for by donations by individuals, businesses and East Coulsdon RA. “We are now raising money to add new finials to the remaining even posts,” King said.
If you would like to donate please contact Charles King on email@example.com
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
- Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors