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Authority record

Woodside Swimming Club

  • CB184
  • Corporate body
  • 1887

The Club was founded on 4 May 1887, although its earliest minute book has not survived. It went into abeyance during World War 2 (1940-1946). In January 1980, the Club merged with Thornton Heath Ladies Swimming Club, to become Woodside and Thornton Heath Swimming Club. The Club was based until 1940 at South Norwood Baths (Birchanger Road). The Baths were closed in April 1940, and never re-opened. After the Club was revived in 1946, it was based at Thornton Heath Baths (High Street, Thornton Heath).

The Clubs activities included racing and other competitive events, water polo, and an annual 'Entertainment' (consisting of serious and light-hearted competitions). Prominent members of the Club at various dates included Alderman Alfred T Layton; Sidney Herbert MP (afterwards Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery); Frederick Foss; Sir Thomas Edridge; Sir FT Edridge; FC Venn; HP Venn; Percy Phipps; WH Hoveman; Maurice Riesco; and RFA Riesco.

Southern Pathfinders

  • CB191
  • Corporate body
  • 1931

The Southern Pathfinders (often called 'Sopats') were a Croydon-based rambling club, founded in March 1931 by Victor Morecroft of Addiscombe. Early members were recruited through a letter published in the Croydon Advertiser, and at the end of the first year there were 111 members. The club disbanded during World War II, but was revived in 1946. Regular rambles, generally in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, were organised; and there were also night walks, tours lasting several days, and (until 1969) purely social events. The club is still active in 1997.

The Club was affiliated to various national countryside bodies, including the National Council of Ramblers Associations (afterwards the Ramblers Association), and the Youth Hostels Association. It was at a meeting organised by the club in December 1933 that the Croydon YHA, the first independent branch of the national organisation, was initiated.

Victor Morecroft (1899-1984) was the founder and first Hon Secretary of the club. He left in 1934; but returned in 1953 to become Chairman, then Vice-President from 1955, and President from 1977 until his death in 1984. Herbert Gatliff (1897-1977), a high-ranking but eccentric civil servant with numerous country interests, served as the first Chairman, and later as President, until his death in 1977: he devised the club motto, 'We wont go cosy'. Another important figure was Harold Ockenden (1908-1988), who succeeded Morecroft as Secretary in 1934, became Treasurer in 1946, and Vice-President from 1969 until his death in 1988: for most of this period, he also continued to act as Secretary.

Croydon Christian Free Church

  • CB263
  • Corporate body
  • 1870 - 1960

The congregation bought the 'Iron Church' (formerly a Baptist Church) in Wellesley Road. It was opened as the Free Christian Church on 11 December 1870. The freehold of the land was bought in 1875.
Subsequently, a new, permanent, church was built on the same site: the memorial stone was laid on 20 April 1883, and it was formerly opened on 17 November 1883. The 'Iron Church' had been moved to the rear of the new building: it was renamed the Social Room, and was put to regular use for soirees, dances, children's parties, etc. The Church attracted a relatively small, educated, middle class congregation, and its early ministers included several capable intellectuals. However, relations between minister and congregation were sometimes turbulent. EM Geldart, after some years as a popular minister, antagonised many of his congregation when he began to preach a doctrine of Social Democracy: the strain affected his health, and he died in mysterious circumstances soon afterwards.
His successor, CJ Street, resigned over differences of opinion with the congregation; WM Weston was criticised for some of his views (notably an address advocating the abolition of the traditional home), and resigned to re-join the Roman Catholic Church; and WW Chynoweth Pope was asked to resign following a difficult period of declining attendances. Only after the appointment of GC Sharpe in 1921 did relations become more consistently harmonious. Among the prominent early members of the congregation were Henry Moore and his family. In 1906 his son, H Keatley Moore, paid an official visit during his term of office as Mayor. The church was badly damaged during World War 2; and this, combined with the town centre redevelopments, led to a new church and hall being built in Friends Road in 1958. In 1960 the Church was renamed the Unitarian and Free Christian Church.

MINISTERS:
Rev RR Suffield 1870-1877
Rev EM Geldart 1878-1885
Rev CJ Street 1886-1892
Rev JP Hopps 1892-1903
Rev WJ Jupp 1904-1911
Dr WM Weston 1911-1916
Rev WW Chynoweth Pope 1917-1920
Rev GC Sharpe 1921-1937
Rev RPD Thomas 1937-1946
Rev AB Downing 1947-1949
Rev JP Chalk 1949-1961
Rev G Kereki 1961-1984
Rev P Giles 1984-1985
Rev S Dick 1985-1996
Rev V Marshall 1996-1997
Rev E. H. Birtles 1999-2006

For a history of the church, see:
FW Moore, Croydon Free Christian Church: its early days (typescript, 1923) held in the Local History Collection at S70(288)CRO;
Jeremy Morris, Religion and Urban Change (1992), pp97-100
Roger Thomas, The first hundred years of the of the Unitarian and Free Christian Church in Croydon 1870-1970, S70 (280) CRO.
An illuminated address presented to Thomas Mathews, Treasurer and Secretary of the Church, is held at AR69.

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