Croydon, Surrey overview
What's it all about?
If Croydon was a city, it would be the eighth largest in the country, covering an area of almost 37 square miles. Currently undergoing a regeneration, the town centre will welcome 41-and 68-storey developments, a new £1.4 billion Westfield shopping centre, and a redesign of the Fiveways junction, with permission granted for 150 micro-flats outside East Croydon station. However, Croydon offers more than just urban development. Located on the edge of London, it is a gateway to the beautiful North Downs hills, yet London Bridge and Victoria are only a 14 minute and 17 minute train ride away respectively. Suddenly all this residential development makes sense, as does the dynamic growth in fashionable craft ale bar, seasonal restaurants, galleries and cinemas. Croydon is pulling down its grey concrete past and is turning itself into a creative hub.
- Now a listed building and museum, Croydon Airport was the UK’s foremost international airport between the wars, and the site of the world’s first air traffic control tower. It was also the launching pad for many record-breaking flights, including Amy Johnson’s flight from England to Australia in 1930, which made her the first woman to complete this journey solo.
- The name ‘Croydon’ likely comes from the Anglo-Saxon croh, meaning crocus. This identifies the area as a centre for the growing of the Crocus flower, which was used in Roman times for medicinal uses.
- The music genre dubstep evolved in Croydon during the late-1990s. Especially via The Big Apple Records shop, where key artists such as Hatcha and Skream worked.
Architecture and property
Croydon has changed hugely in the past 50 years with high-rise buildings now dominating its skyline. However, many properties on the outskirts of town date from the late Victorian era or the interwar years, and are more affordable than homes in more centrally-located London boroughs.
For house price information, please visit our resource centre.
Eating: When the third Boxpark pop-up opened in Croydon in 2016, it was clear that the area was on the rise. Residents can now try an ever-changing line-up of international street-food stalls. Across town, BRGR&BEER is ranked among the best burger eateries in the country by TripAdvisor reviewers. We recommend trying the Boozer burgers with rosemary fries. For the best fish and chips around, hop on the tram to the award-winning McDermott’s in New Addington.
Drinking: Alongside its craft beer, sourdough pizzas, burgers, board games and pool are also on the menu at Green Dragon on the High Street. Entertainment is as much of a draw as the food and drink at The Oval Tavern, with regular live music, quiz nights and Saturday afternoon story time for the children. Alternatively, head around the corner to The Builders Arms, named Croydon Borough Pub of the Year 2018 by real-ale aficionados CAMRA.
Entertainment and culture: Tucked away on a cobbled street in ‘old’ Croydon, Matthews Yard is the area’s creative hub, with a 60-seat theatre hosting live music and plays, a multi-function space, art gallery and the BRGR&BEER restaurant. Housed in the Croydon Clocktower arts complex, The David Lean Cinema shows the latest arthouse films in a space, named in tribute to the creator of Lawrence of Arabia, who was born in Croydon.
The ultimate celebration of street food, local and global bands, the annual Croydon Food and Music Festival saw 12,000 revellers in 2018. Lloyd Park plays host to the Butterfly Effect Festival, featuring drum and bass, garage and afro beats. London’s largest urban art fair, the RISEfestival, brings colour to Croydon with block parties, street installations and murals.
- A fixture since the 13th century, the thriving Surrey Street Market sells fresh produce from Monday to Saturday, with an artisan market on Sundays.
- The Centrale and Whitgift shopping centres provide all the retail therapy you’ll ever need. Only a 10 minutes’ drive west is Valley Retail and Leisure Park, next to Croydon’s IKEA. There’s also two Sainsbury’s, a Waitrose and a Lidl in the town.
- Thornton Heath and Waddon Leisure Centres are both modern and well-equipped, and only a short walk to the town centre. There are many more membership gyms in the town as well.
- There are six golf courses within a 20-minute drive: Addington Court, Addington Palace, The Addington, Farleigh, Shirley Park and Purley Downs, with many offering stunning views over the North Downs and the London skyline.
The borough of Croydon has no fewer than 120 parks and open spaces. From 2012 to 2014, Wandle Park underwent a major regeneration. It now features an underground stream brought to the surface for paddling, a skate park, play area, pavilion and café. Close to the town centre, Coombe Wood has ornamental gardens, a pond and waterfall, as well as wooded walks to enjoy. A few minutes to the south west is Park Hill Recreation Ground, with a walled garden and turreted water tower. Neighbouring Shirley also boasts large areas of woodland, including Shirley Hills, Threehalfpenny Wood and Miller’s Pond.
Croydon’s no stranger to change. This is set to continue with many more developments in the pipeline, such as the 68-storey One Lansdowne Road and the micro-flats planned next to East Croydon station. Once complete, the new Westfield shopping centre will attract an influx of people, business and energy into a town already known for modernisation.
Rail: At peak times there are six trains an hour direct to London Bridge and 10 trains an hour to Victoria, with the latter offering easy access to Gatwick airport.
Bus: The 468 runs to Elephant and Castle, the 109 to Brixton and 50 to Clapham, but the train is faster for these longer routes. There are many connections to Bromley, Sutton, Mitcham and surrounding towns.
Road: Croydon sits on the junction of the north-south A23 and east-west A232, and the M25 is 25 minutes away.
Cycle: Croydon Council has announced a £20 million five-year cycling plan. This will help the area catch up with other parts of London in providing better facilities and safer streets for cyclists.
Getting away: Big journeys are easy from Croydon, with Gatwick a 35 minute drive and only 14 minutes by train. Meanwhile, Heathrow is 55 minutes by train and 75 minutes by car. St Pancras International is 28 minutes away.
The centrally located Chestnut Park Primary School is highly rated. Also near Croydon town centre are Elmwood, Ark Oval, Park Hill, Howard and Aerodrome schools. For secondary education, Coloma Convent Girls’ School on the outskirts of Croydon and Harris Academy Purley are both well regarded. The main independent school in the area is Trinity School of John Whitgift in Shirley Park, for boys aged 11-16 and a co-educational sixth form. Just west of the town centre is the famous performing arts-orientated BRIT School for 14 to 19-year-olds, with alumni including singers Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie J and actor Tom Holland.
Please see our education resource for more information on schools in this area.
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