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Woodside lies about two miles northeast of the centre of Croydon and is one of the older settlements in the area - first mentioned in writing in 1332 but probably already well-established by then.

The name signifies that it was 'at the side of the Wood', which refers to the Great North Wood, a vast tract of woodland which in the early days stretched all the way to Deptford.

For most of its history, Woodside was the centre for agriculture in the area, although the heavy soil was more suitable for grazing than for arable farming. The same soil, however, gave Woodside its other major industry - brick making. The first known mention of brick-making in the area is in 1815, and the trade developed steadily until the mid 20th century when Handley's seven 160-foot chimneys dominated the area. The works closed in 1974.

Woodside's only claim to national fame came in 1866 when part of Stroud Green Farm was leased as a Race Course and for some years crowds flocked to the area on race days. Woodside railway station, opened in 1871, owes its existence to these crowds. The Race Course closed in 1890.

Even today, despite heavy traffic, Woodside preserves a village feel, with its Green surrounded by many attractive houses and cottages, and with local pubs and shops at the southern end. Many of these buildings are worth a closer look. Nos.2 (Cherry Tree Farm) and 169 (Woodside Cottage), along with St. Luke's Church (built 1870), are grade II listed buildings, and Nos. 88, 195, and the Beehive Pub are on the Local List of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest.

Another building on the Local List is Ashburton Library, one of the last surviving parts of Stroud Green House (built 1788), which served as a boys home and convent from 1878 to 1924. The present Library was originally the chapel and dormitory building.

For further historical information, see the booklet called Woodside, by Lilian Thornhill
(Westerham: North Downs Press, 1986).

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Thursday, 26 November, 2015


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