South Norwood

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South Norwood
South Norwood Clock tower in 2007
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South Norwood
Location within Greater London
Population16,518 (South Norwood ward 2011) [1]
OS grid reference TQ340684
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE25
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°23′58″N0°04′29″W / 51.3995°N 0.0747°W / 51.3995; -0.0747

South Norwood is a district of south-east London, England, within the London Borough of Croydon, Greater London and formerly in the historic county of Surrey. It is located 7.8 miles (12.5 km) south-east of Charing Cross, north of Woodside and Addiscombe, east of Selhurst and Thornton Heath, south of Crystal Palace/Upper Norwood and Anerley, and south-west of Penge.


Together with Norwood New Town, it forms the electoral ward of South Norwood in the local authority of Croydon. The ward as a whole had a resident population in 2001 of just over 14,000. [2]

The south-eastern side of the district is dominated by the 125-acre (0.51 km2) country park which opened in 1989. At the northern end of the town is South Norwood Lake, which was created after the reservoir for the unsuccessful Croydon Canal went out of use. [3] [4] It is used by the Croydon Sailing Club and local anglers who fish for carp, bream and perch.

There are two secondary schools in the area along with a public leisure centre. South Norwood has a high street which forms part of Selhurst Road. It is a commuter district, with many residents travelling to either the financial and insurance districts of Croydon or the City of London for employment via the large railway station. South Norwood and surrounding areas are covered by the London SE25 postcode. It is also the southernmost location of the London post town.


The area was originally covered by the Great North Wood, which was a natural oak forest that covered four miles (6 km) of south London. Apart from South Norwood, the wood covered Upper Norwood, West Norwood (known as Lower Norwood until 1885) and the Woodside and Gipsy Hill areas. [5]

References to rents being paid for a coppice called Cholmerden in the area date to the 1400s. [6] By the 1670s the site had been developed into the grounds of Goat House. [6] Handley's Brickworks' seven chimneys once dominated the landscape of the area. It has been demolished and the site changed into grassland and a lake, called Brickfields Meadow. [6]

The Croydon Canal was constructed in the early 19th century, running from New Cross to the site of West Croydon station. [6] As it passed through South Norwood, pubs sprang up near its course. The Jolly Sailor still stands at the intersection of South Norwood Hill and High Street. The Ship, a few yards to the east, was beside the loading point for bricks from a nearby brick field across what is now the High Street.[ citation needed ] The passageway through which bricks passed to the canal is still there. The Goat House pub (which has since been demolished) was said to have been named after an island in the canal on which goats were kept.[ citation needed ]

Jolly-sailor station opened in 1839 by the London and Croydon Railway.[ citation needed ] It was listed as Jolly-sailor near Beulah Spa on fare lists and timetables and renamed 'Norwood' in 1846.[ citation needed ] The station was immediately adjacent to a level crossing over Portland Road, making it slightly further north than the site currently occupied by Norwood Junction station. As part of the construction works for the atmospheric-propulsion system, the world's first railway flyover was constructed south of Tennison Road, to carry the new atmospheric-propulsion line over the conventional steam line below. [7] In 1847, the atmospheric propulsion experiment was abandoned.

In 1848 South Norwood remained a small hamlet, however the following 10–20 years rapid development occurred with the construction of roads and the Selhurst Park estate. [6] The area gained its own parish church, Holy Innocents, in 1895. [8] Much of the growth of the area was the result of William Ford Stanley, who constructed a factory in the area in 1867 and established a technical school here in 1902 (now the Stanley Halls). [6]

Further development occurred throughout the 20th century with the building of terraced houses and public housing developments. [6] Large numbers of immigrants from the Caribbean settled here and the area retains a large black population. [6]

In 1966, a dog called Pickles discovered, under a bush in Beulah Hill, the FIFA World Cup Jules Rimet Trophy, which had been stolen from an exhibition of rare stamps at Westminster Central Hall. [9]

South Norwood today

Caprine-themed bench on Goat House Bridge Goat House Bridge bench.jpg
Caprine-themed bench on Goat House Bridge

The area is centred on the junction where the High Street meets South Norwood Hill/Portland Road; the bulk of the shops and amenities are located along the High Street and Selhurst Road/Penge Road, with further shops, restaurants etc. lining Portland Road for some distance. South Norwood is now unofficially divided into the less deprived area in the north west side of the railway, which was the location of a private estate, and the generally more deprived area in the north east. [10] In the south east of the borough, where workers for a former brick factory lived, the entrance to the estate was between a pair of pillars, though they have long since been demolished. However the capitals were preserved and now sit on the two brick pillars at the Selhurst Road entrance to South Norwood Recreation Ground. In 2006, South Norwood Lakes in the north of the ward was the scene of a fatal stabbing. [11]


South Norwood was within the County Borough of Croydon until 1965 when, following the enactment of the London Government Act 1963, it became part the local government of Greater London. The town is now part of the wards of South Norwood and Woodside in the local authority of Croydon, which has the responsibility for providing services such as education, refuse collection, and tourism.

South Norwood Ward is part of the ethnically diverse Croydon North parliamentary constituency, which had one of the largest electorates in England at the 2010 general election, whereas Woodside Ward falls within the boundaries of the Croydon Central constituency. The sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Croydon North is Steve Reed, a member of the Labour Party, following the death of Malcolm Wicks. [12] The sitting Member of Parliament for Croydon Central is Sarah Jones, also a member of the Labour Party. [13]

Policing services are provided by the Metropolitan Police via the Croydon Police Station branch in Park Lane, Croydon. [14] The London Fire Brigade provide services for the area and Greater London as a whole; the nearest fire station is at Woodside which has only one pumping appliance.[ citation needed ]


South Norwood is bordered by Anerley to the north, Selhurst to the south, Woodside due east and Thornton Heath to the west. The northernmost point of South Norwood is at Beaulieu Heights (alternatively spelt Beulah Heights, Beaulah Heights and Beulieu Heights) which contains Beulah Heights Park, overlapping with Upper Norwood and New Town. The northern part of the district is situated on the lower parts of the hill that forms Upper Norwood.

South Norwood lies on the southern slopes of the Norwood Ridge which forms the southern edge of the London Basin. This line of hills runs from north-east to south-west for about three miles (5 km) and rises to approximately 360 feet (110 m) above sea level at its highest point.[ citation needed ] It is formed by a ridge of grey silty deposits known as London Clay, capped in places with the gravel of the Claygate Beds. [15] [16] Because of this gravel working was an important local industry and at one time the road along Beulah Hill was called Gravel Pit Road.[ citation needed ] South Norwood Hill is the most southerly spur of this ridge and the London Clay extends at its foot to the southern edge of the South Norwood Country Park. Here a brook marks the junction with the sands and gravels of the Blackheath Beds that rise to Shirley, Addington Hills and Croham Hurst. Streams join Chaffinch Brook and the Beck to form the River Pool, which eventually flows into the River Ravensbourne. [17]


Primary Schools

There are many primary schools in the South Norwood area including Priory Special School, Heavers Farm Primary School, South Norwood Primary School, Cypress Junior School and Cypress Infant School, St. Chad's Roman Catholic Primary School, St. Mark's Primary School and Oasis Academy Ryelands.

Secondary Schools

The former Stanley Technical High School (the legacy of local inventor and engineer William Stanley) has been replaced and turned into an academy as part of the Harris Federation. After deliberations with local residents it was originally going to be called Harris at Stanley, but the federation changed it to Harris Academy South Norwood, an act which created some controversy. [18] Many local residents are upset that the name Stanley was removed from the school, as Stanley, who had the original school built in 1907, is a famous and well regarded figure in South Norwood. [19] Harris City Academy Crystal Palace is a city academy in the north west of South Norwood, but to avoid confusion with the other school it uses the Crystal Palace name. Other secondary schools in the area include Oasis Academy Arena.

Higher Education

South Norwood is home of Spurgeon's College, a world-famous Baptist theological college, since 1923; Spurgeon's is located on South Norwood Hill and currently has some 1,000 students. [20] It is one of only four further education establishments in the borough.

South Norwood Library

The Brutalist Library designed by architect Hugh Lea in South Norwood Southnorwoodlibrary.JPG
The Brutalist Library designed by architect Hugh Lea in South Norwood

South Norwood Library, nicknamed 'The Brutalist Library' is located on the corner of Selhurst Road and Lawrence Road. [21] A public library part of the Croydon Libraries library system, the building was constructed in 1968 by Croydon borough architect Hugh Lea and is arranged over five levels split across the front and rear of the building in order to maximise the internal space. The front part of the building has the ground floor entrance level, which houses the reception, and the second floor which houses the children's library. The rear of the building has the basement, first and third floors. The levels are offset so that the floors in the front and rear of the building appear like mezzanine levels to each other.[ citation needed ]

Sports and leisure

Leisure Centre

South Norwood contains a leisure centre which is owned and maintained by Better on behalf of Sport Croydon. [22] South Norwood Leisure Centre is situated on Portland Road and reopened in late 2007 after refurbishment. It had been closed in early 2006 and was due for demolition, so that it could be redesigned from scratch like the leisure centre in Thornton Heath, at a cost of around £10 million. [23] In May 2006 the Conservatives gained control of Croydon and decided that doing this would cost too much money, so they decided to refurbish the centre instead, although this decision came with controversy. [24] [25] It now includes a 25m swimming pool and a gym.

South Norwood Country Park

South Norwood Country Park is a nature reserve which is home to an abundance of species and wildlife Countrypark2.jpg
South Norwood Country Park is a nature reserve which is home to an abundance of species and wildlife

South Norwood is also home to South Norwood Country Park, 116 acres of nature reserve. After previously being home to a sewage works (closed in 1966) and fireworks factory; the habitat has been cultivated over time to nurture an abundance of species and wildlife. Other parks in the local area are South Norwood Recreation Ground, Heavers Meadow, Brickfields Meadow, Beaulieu Heights, South Norwood Lake and Grounds, Woodside Green and Ashburton Park.

South Norwood Community Festival

The South Norwood Community Festival is an annual event at South Norwood Recreational Ground which first began in 2011 as an inclusive event which would benefit the local community. In 2022 over 8,000 people gathered to enjoy live bands, refreshments, arts and crafts and children's entertainment. The event is run entirely by volunteers and profits are donated to local charities and invested back into the future festival plans. The last festival took place on Sunday, 2 July 2023.

Croydon Sports Arena

Croydon Sports Arena was first opened in 1953 and is a multiple-use sports arena in South Norwood. [26] The arena is located on the edge of South Norwood Country Park. Facilities include an eight-lane 400m running track, with a centre field and training area for throwing events. The stadium is floodlit. During the winter the inner field becomes a football pitch, home to Croydon F.C. [26] In the summer the stadium is mostly used for athletic events. It is used by athletics clubs Striders of Croydon [27] and Croydon Harriers. [28] The stands in the sports arena can hold up to 388 people.[ citation needed ] From 2018, the arena is being managed by Greenwich Leisure Limited.


South Norwood F.C. were an amateur football club who were active in the 1870s and played their home matches at Portland Road. [29]

Premier League club Crystal Palace are based in the nearby Selhurst Park and on match days the pubs on the high street are usually busy with fans and ticket-holders.

South Norwood Tourist Board

South Norwood Tourist Board a local campaigning group led by Class War anarchist Ian Bone [30] have organised "PicklesFest" with Dave Corbett, owner of Pickles; challenging the Lake District for their title; and more recently proclaimed the People's Republic of South Norwood.[ citation needed ]

On 26 July 2014, South Norwood Tourist Board, in partnership with Crystal Palace Transition Town invited Captain Sensible to unveil 'The Sensible Seat' a bench within the Sensible Garden; a derelict piece of land in South Norwood, which had been turned into a garden through hard work of the local community. [31]

Culture, music and arts

Stanley Arts Stanley Halls, South Norwood.jpg
Stanley Arts

Stanley Arts

Named after the skilled architect who founded it William Stanley, Stanley Arts is one of the larger arts and performance venues in the surrounding area, with a focus on community arts. The organisation's vision focuses on under-represented voices, providing artists of colour and LGBTQ+ creatives with a platform in South London and beyond. The venue is home to a 250-seat and 60-seat theatre space, resident office space for theatre makers, [32] productions from local theatre clubs, a coffee shop, and other community focused activities. [33] Since first opening in 1903, both professional and amateur performers trod its boards; including Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and W.Y. Hurlstone. In the 1960s Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro and Johnny Dankworth were among the professional musicians who rehearsed here for performances at nearby Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

History of Stanley Arts

Originally named 'Stanley Halls' the venue is a grade II listed building first built in 1903. [34] On its completion, William Stanley invited all the workmen to a supper at the Halls followed by an entertainment to which the wives and relatives of the men were invited. Stanley said that if "the building was not the most beautiful in the world, it was, at least, one of the most substantially built." He hoped that the Halls would become a pleasant home of entertainment for all of them.

The buildings were completed in stages, with Stanley Public Hall (the main hall and art gallery) opening in 1903, the clock tower and Upper Stanley Hall added in 1904 and the Technical Trade School in 1907. The Assembly room and Society Rooms, alongside offices and the venue secretary’s accommodation, were added in 1909 to complete the complex.Standing next to Stanley’s new technical trade school, which was inspired by the German Gewerbeschulen trade schools and was the first of its kind in Britain, it made perfect sense that the Stanley Halls complex should be used for purposes both educational and cultural. Initially the Halls hosted a wide array of educational classes, exhibitions and political debates. On 2 March 1912, for example, it was reported that "a spirited debate on Votes for Women" took place at Stanley Upper Hall where Alice Abadam (president of the National Women’s Suffrage Society and resident of Upper Norwood) spoke in favour of women’s right to vote. Other speakers in later years, who have followed in Alice Abadam’s footsteps on the stage of Stanley Hall, include Harold Wilson and John Smith.[ citation needed ]

Stanley Arts - community and social events

During the War Years, first aid courses are thought to have taken place here and the building may have been used as temporary shelter for residents bombed out of their homes. It was also a centre for community celebrations and festivals such as the 1951 Festival of Britain and the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Records from the 1950s show that social events in the Halls ranged from birthday celebrations, antique fairs, ‘Meet a Mum’ jumble sales, weddings, aerobics, to a Psychic Festival. The fact that the Halls offered a multi-purpose community venue played a significant role in the promotion of local citizenship and civic pride in the post-war period.[ citation needed ]

Stanley Arts from 1970s onwards

As the decades progressed, without a separate cultural identity and no physical separation, the upper and main halls, the gallery and the assembly rooms,  all increasingly became part of the expanding Technical school; known locally simply as Stanley Tech. Though the buildings were used to some extent outside of school hours, the record of separate cultural activity in this period is limited, and to all intents and purposes Stanley Halls and Stanley Tech were the same place. By the turn of the 21st century, the Technical School, which had by then seen better days, was being absorbed into the Harris Academy chain; and a new school complex was being built on an L-shaped site around the back of Stanley Halls. In 2007 the newly-opened Harris Academy South Norwood comprised the old Technical School building, the Upper Stanley Hall & Clocktower, and a modern new-build school site stretching around behind Stanley Halls. The rest of the historic Stanley Halls complex, including the main Stanley Hall and gallery, and the assembly & society rooms, were separated from the Upper Hall with a new internal wall that divided the Stanley Halls complex in two.

Over the next five years the future of the larger, lower half, the ‘unneeded’ part of the Stanley Halls complex as it was seen by the developers of the new school academy, was in question. With these remaining buildings under threat, and competing visions for their future, the local community came together to apply to take them on from Croydon Council as a community asset transfer.

In 2015 the buildings were finally signed over to the newly-formed Stanley People’s Initiative, a charity established to save this part the historic Stanley Halls complex, and hopefully to find a new use for this extraordinary set of buildings. Over the first few years of operation this new, reduced, Stanley Halls slowly found its feet; and with it, a renewed sense of purpose. Paradoxically, the pandemic of 2020 helped to re-establish the buildings in the hearts and minds of local people as an essential home for art, performance and community.

This new purpose represents a return to the original intention of William Stanley. In 1901 he had conceived the idea of building a local home for entertainment, art and culture, and nearly 120 years later his vision was to be renewed. The start of 2021 saw the trustees launch a new identity for this part of the historic Stanley Halls complex, rebranding as Stanley Arts – a name that honours the past, whilst looking forward to a brighter future. Stanley Arts seeks to forge a new identity for this part of Stanley Halls, separate from its most recent history as part of Stanley Tech, and one that clearly defines the future of this building as a South London home for community, arts, and culture for the next 120 years at least.


Screen25 (formerly Stanley's Film Club) is a non-profit community cinema based at the Harris Academy South Norwood, with a weekly programme of independent and cultural film, as well as family screenings and special events. [35]



Two A roads, the A215 and the A213 are in the South Norwood area. The A213 is High Street, Penge Road and Selhurst Road. The A215 is Portland Road and South Norwood Hill.

The junction to the north of Arena. This tram is entering South Norwood Country Park. Arena tram junction.jpg
The junction to the north of Arena. This tram is entering South Norwood Country Park.


Norwood Junction railway station is situated in the centre of South Norwood just off High Street. It has 7 platforms but only 6 are in use at the present[ when? ] time. Southern and London Overground trains run to London Bridge and Dalston Junction. Fast trains generally take 10 minutes to reach central London and slow trains 20 minutes. Also London Victoria station trains take 20 minutes. East Croydon and West Croydon stations and urban and rural stations thereafter including regular train service to Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham and Streaham. Selhurst station is nearby, from which one can catch direct trains to Kensington Olympia and Shepherd's Bush via a train service to Milton Keynes.

The Thameslink Programme (formerly known as Thameslink 2000), is a £3.5 billion major project to expand the Thameslink network from 51 to 172 stations [36] spreading northwards to Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn and southwards to Guildford, Eastbourne, Horsham, Hove to Littlehampton, East Grinstead, Ashford and Dartford. The project includes the lengthening of platforms, station remodelling, new railway infrastructure (e.g. viaduct) and additional rolling stock. The new Thameslink timetable for Norwood Junction started 20 May 2018: "Norwood Junction gain[ed] an all-day-long Thameslink service to Bedford via Blackfriars and St Pancras, with two trains per hour to Epsom via Sutton" and timetables will continue being expanded and adjusted into 2019. [37] [38]

Transport for London began work on the southern extension of the East London line in 2005 as part of the London Overground. On completion in May 2010, services run between West Croydon and Dalston Junction via London Docklands. [39]

Trains make an unpublicised stop at Selhurst from Victoria through the night to enable engineers at Selhurst to get to Gatwick and vice versa. This means that it is possible to board the train during the night all through the early hours of morning to South Norwood. However, the trains state East Croydon on the board. Trains run out of Victoria after 1.00 am on the hour until the train service starts up again officially.[ citation needed ]


Trams do not run through the town centre of South Norwood, with the nearest stops on the Tramlink network being Harrington Road, Arena and Woodside. In the mid-2000s there were proposals for an extension to Crystal Palace, [40] which would have resulted in the construction of an additional stop on Penge Road.

Notable people

Conan Doyle - 12 Tennison Road South Norwood SE25 5RT.jpg
12 Tennison Road
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 1859-1930 Creator of Sherlock Holmes lived here 1891-1894.jpg
Close-up of plaque
12 Tennison Road, former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Related Research Articles

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South Norwood Leisure Centre is a leisure centre located on Portland Road in South Norwood in Croydon, London. It contains a 25m sized swimming pool, teaching pool, 32 station gym and two studios. The centre is managed by Better (GLL).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heavers Meadow</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ashburton Park</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Norwood Library</span> Public library in Croydon, south London

South Norwood Library is a purpose-built public library in South Norwood, South London. Also known locally as 'Brutalist Library' it stands in the London Borough of Croydon and is part of the Croydon Libraries arm of the council. The site on the corner of Selhurst Road and Lawrence Road first had a library built in 1897, which was replaced by the current building in 1966.


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