Jump to Main NavigationJump to Main Content
Home Home > History > Places 



Purley hardly existed at all until the late 19th century.

In earlier times, it had merely been the northern part of Coulsdon parish with one big house nearby (now called Purley Bury, present building dates from the 18th century) and farmland. The nearest church was St. John the Evangelist at Old Coulsdon, and the Lord of the Manor lived over that way as well.

When the railways came (in 1841), what is now Purley Station was called Godstone Road, and this was changed to Caterham Junction in 1856.

But the situation changed rapidly from the 1880s when development started and people started moving into the new suburban villas being erected on all sides. The parish of Purley was officially created in 1880, and the station was finally re-named Purley in 1880.

From that time, house-building continued apace, but the next big change came between 1900 and 1905 when some of the villas in the Brighton Road were demolished and rows of shops appeared there and in the High Street, and Purley could take the shape that we know today. The new shops fixed the centre of Purley firmly on the junction of the Brighton and Godstone roads, and other amenities added later, such as the Cottage Hospital (1909), the Astoria (now Cannon) cinema (1934) and swimming pool (1981) made Purley into one of the most important district centres in the area.

Transport is always vital to an area's development, and Purley has been well served in this respect. In addition to the railway, Purley was served by electric trams from 1901 to 1951, and numerous bus routes. The opening of the Purley Way in 1928, as a bypass for Croydon, made the centre of Purley into a very busy crossroads. Repeated attempts at catering for growing traffic congestion have been made - the latest being the introduction of a roundabout when the Tesco Superstore was built in 1991. A previous idea - firmly resisted by locals - had been a flyover to carry the Brighton Road over the top of the centre of Purley!

Flooding used to be a recurring problem in Purley centre - shown here in July 1956

Back to Places


Friday, 27 November, 2015


Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Submit a Comment / Question to Croydon Online