Croydon Past Paperback – 1 Nov 2016 by John Gent (Author).
Croydon was for centuries a small but important market town, set in attractive open countryside and separated from London by poor roads, large commons, the Great North Wood and, probably, by inclination. As the principal town in East Surrey it had large markets and fairs, grants for which were obtained by the archbishops of Canterbury who, as lords of the manor, had their near London residence in the town. Frequent visitors from the 13th century, they entertained many important guests at what, by the 17th century, had become Croydon Palace.
Enclosure of the common lands in 1801 paved the way for building development and the town began to expand. By 1809 it was served by two horse-drawn freight railways and a canal, but it was the arrival of steam railways from 1839 that made Croydon an ideal residential area for London commuters. The provision of a good water supply and proper drainage in 1851 made the town one of the healthiest in the country. Housing spread over the farmland at an increasing rate, the population reaching 191,375 by 1921. By this time Croydon s suburbs were merging with London s. From the 1960s the town centre was transformed by a major redevelopment scheme which has made Croydon the sixth largest commercial centre in the country.
This well-researched and very readable book tells the entire story of the town s development over the centuries with the aid of original and specially prepared maps and excellent illustrations, many never previously published. It will be warmly welcomed by residents and visitors alike and is a significant contribution to the published history of East Surrey.