Coulsdon Area News & History

Many areas of Croydon have very active residents and other community and special interest organisations, examples being East Coulsdon Residents Association (ECRA) and the Bourne Society.

ECRA, chaired by public transport activist Charles King, has produced the latest issue of its magazine The Review.

There are various contributions about the COVID-19 crisis: personal reflections, analysis of the shops that managed to remain open, the view from a medical practice,  and Charles on the effects on the Borough’s public transport.

There is also a report on the local VE Day 75th Anniversary event, an article on birdwatching by John Birkett of the RSPB Croydon Local Group

The Review can be downloaded here:

Review May 2020 FINAL

Bourne Society Plaques

Charles also writes in The Review about the Bourne Society plaques in Coulsdon along with a map of how to walk round them.

The section on Blue Plaques is also available as a separate document here:

Bourne Society blue plaque walk

The Society’s plaques are unusual, Most organisations commemorate people. The Society’ ’s focus is mainly on important historic buildings in the development of Smitham Bottom which Coulsdon used to be called and then Coulsdon. They are the first purpose-built school, the first church school, the Manor Court of the Byrons), Old Coulsdon North Station and train crash of 1912, the change of name from Smitham Bottom to Croydon, the former Red Lion Pub, Smitham Bottom Parish Hall, the station opened in 1889 which is now Croydon South). The only individual is Gordon Pirie, the athlete.

Emmaline Pankhurst spoke at the Parish Hall in 1911.

Coulsdon Community, Reform  and Social History

Looking through my research notes on aspects of Croydon History I have very few snippets about Coulsdon. There is plenty of research to be carried out into the history of community and special interests organisations  in the area including the labour, various reform  and suffrage movements.

Anti-Vaccination. In 1907 Mr & Mrs Charles Gane of Coulsdon were active members in the Anti-Vaccination League/ They attended its Annual Meeting on 5 March 1907 at London’s Caxton Hall, as did Mr. Pratt, the Honorary Secretary of the Croydon League. In November Gane sent a letter to each London County Council member with a copy of a pamphlet by Alfred Wallace, the President of the Legaue, who had worked with Darwin in developing the theory of evolution, and had previously live din South Croydon.

The Oakeshotts. The Secretary of the Croydon & District Fabian Society was Harold Augustus. Oakeshott at Downside Cottage, Coulsdon. In September 1908 he placed an advertisement to advertise a series of lectures. Oakeshott had the Cottage built in Fanfare Rd, comprising nine rooms, and had moved in with his wife Grace, his mother Eliza and sister Mary in 1898. Later Grace’s parents, two sisters and brother moved into another house in the same road. The house was in walking distance of Coulsdon and Cane Hill station which made it easy for Grace to travel into London for her voluntary work with the Women’s Industrial Council. When Grace disappeared and was presumed dead by drowning, Harold remarried, continuing to live in the cottage with his new wife Dorothy and started a family of four children. Grace’s parents moved away shortly after the marriage. The story of Grace, Harold and the reform movements of the period are in Jocelyn Robson’s Radical Reformers and Respectable Rebels. How the Two Lives of Grace Oakeshott Defined an Era. (Palgrave Macmillan. 2016).

Muriel Mutters Airship Crash. On 16 February 1909 Women’s Freedom League member Muriel Matters boarded an airship in order to drop leaflets as she flew over London. The pilot experienced difficulties and landed in a hedge in Coulsdon. The airship was prevented from flying off by a farmer holding a guy rope.

Edith Mary Moore. A supporter of the women’s movement Edith Mary Moore (1877-1949) was a prolific writer. In 1894 she married Thomas William Moore, an architect and surveyor. They had three children, Geoffrey Croucher (1895), Edward Lovell (1896)] and Edris Mary (1899}. The family appear to have moved into Glen Aber, Foxley Lane, Coulsdon about 1904. Her published novels between 1909 and 1910 were: The Wrong Side of Destiny, The Lure of Eve, and The Idealist and Mary Treherne. Between 1916 and 1935 she published The Spirit and the Law: A Novel, Teddy R.N.D., The Blind Marksman and the non-fiction The Defeat of Woman. The Cambridge University Orlando project states that shewas interested in issues of social reform and solutions to the problems of urban poverty and overcrowding; her novels suggest sympathy with socialism. She was also a feminist, as can be seen from her novels but more clearly from  The Defeat of Woman, 1935, her non fictional treatise on women and society. This looks forward to improvement in the way that men regard women, but also, more unusually, to the improvement in female character that will result from equality.’ (Quote from Orlando site)

Women’s Meetings in 1918 Election. With the winning of the vote for some women in 1918, women’s meetings were held in Croydon during the General Election in late November and early December 1918, including one meeting at Coulsdon in which Mrs Gane took part.

Labour Church. In 1925 the Labour Church at the Labour Hall in Coulsdon had speakers inc. Margaret Bondfield and Chuter Ede. Bondfield was Minister for Labour in Ramsay MacDonald’s second government 1929-31 and Ede . was Home Secretary for the whole period of the Labour Government under Clem in Attlee 1945-51.

African and Caribbean History in Coulsdon

There is also be a lot to be researched into the history of Africans and Caribbeans in Coulsdon. The earliest reference that has been found is that of a poor and injured ‘negro’ found near Coulsdon and treated at the Croydon Workhouse in early 1762. It is not until 1913 that the next person has been identified: Frederick Kameka. He was at the Croydon County Bench charged with begging from house to house in Dale-road, Coulsdon. Aged 43, described as a coffee planter, he was of no fixed address and a subject of Jamaica. He made ‘a rambling, half-intelligible statement’ and was remanded in custody for a week. The details of what then happened have not been fond.

The third story is about Luther Henderson, who fought in the Second World War highlighted by Adrian Falks in his campaign to have the war dead at the Cane Hill Hospital properly memorialised. Henderson never mentally recovered from his war time experience, and eventually was placed in the Hospital in 1950 where he soon caught and died of tuberculosis. His sister Thelma Cook and her husband Bill were horrified at the way in which the graves of the war dead at the cemetery were dealt with, and their inability to object. The Cemetery stopped being used for burials in late September 1950. For many years Thelma used to take flowers up to the plot each year on the anniversary of Luther’s death, until the graveyard became so overgrown that she could no longer find it.




About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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