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Authority record

Croydon Centre for Unemployed Men

  • CB161
  • Corporate body
  • 1932

The Croydon Occupational Centre for Unemployed Men opened in 1932 was one of the first occupational centres in the country to open, and did so temporarily in the old Whitgift Middle School building in Church Road. For a short period in 1934 the centre was housed in the British Legion Hall on the London Road, until their new premises at Robin House, 6 Morland Road were ready in December 1934. These premises had formerly been an Industrial School and Detention Home. Within the second year of operation, it was decided to omit the word Occupational from the centres title, making it the Croydon Centre for Unemployed Men.

Soon after opening, the centre was seeing almost 300 men a day. Activities within the centre developed the mens skills in carpentry, cooking, gardening, cleaning, gardening and maintenance. The centre also had a library and reading room, guest lectures, and sports and games facilities available to the men. The centre operated with the help of volunteers and helpers. It was funded mainly by annual subscriptions.

In November 1936 a Womens Section of the centre started up in the Methodist Church Hall in Parchmore Road, providing a meeting place for the wives of the unemployed men. They organized drives and fund raising for the Centre, and by the outbreak of the Second World War had moved to Robin House.

The Centre received two royal visits in June 1933, from Edward, Prince of Wales and Prince George. Edwards visit was an informal one but George included the centre in his tour of the borough, which was a part of the celebrations for the Jubilee of Croydons Incorporation. During the visit he toured the building and its facilities, and also chatted with the men at the centre. (Croydon Times 10th June 1933).

The 1943 Annual Report mentions that funds were low, and it probably closed soon afterwards. By 1955 the building was in use as a Corporation Day Nursery.

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.

Croydon Committee for Overseas Students

  • CB159
  • Corporate body
  • 1959

The Croydon Committee for Overseas Students was formed prior to 1959 to provide social events for foreign students living in the Croydon area and opportunities for them to meet British people. Until 1970 it was called the Croydon Committee of the East and West Friendship Council. The final meeting took place on February 10 1976 when it was decided to wind up the society due to falling numbers and because the improved facilities by then available to overseas students meant there was less need for such a society.

Croydon Community Theatre

  • CB164
  • Corporate body
  • 1932

The Croydon Repertory Theatre was a professional repertory theatre company situated at 23 Wellesley Road (just south of the junction with Poplar Walk) and was administered by Croydon Community Theatres Limited. The Managing Director throughout its life was J.Baxter Sommerville. It grew out of the Greyhound Theatre Players which performed at The Greyhound before the premises on Wellesley Road, with a capacity of 390, was obtained. The opening ceremony on September 13 1932 was performed by actor, poet and playwright John Drinkwater (1882 - 1937) who had been heavily involved in setting up Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Between 1932 and 1940 the Rep staged a different play most weeks with a period over the summer when the theatre was dark although it appears to have been regularly used by visiting companies at these times. The outbreak of WWII meant that it never reopened after the 1939/40 season and the building was subsequently badly damaged by enemy bombs while being used for furniture storage. It was described by one local historian* in 1949 as a small, convenient theatre....very popular and had a satisfactory record, producing really good plays with young players, many of whom are now famous. Among the subsequently famous actors to appear at Croydon Rep were John Le Mesurier, Denis Price, Richard Wattis, Leonard Sachs and Joan Hickson.

Croydon County Court

  • CB006
  • Corporate body
  • 1847 - 1982

County Courts in their modern form were established by the County Courts Act 1846 which followed a report of 1833 by the common law commissioners on the subject of small debts. At the time small debts were dealt with a variety of courts. The new County Courts, which despite their title did not correspond to county boundaries, were presided over by a judge (with no jury) and their role was to provide a quick and cheap resolution to small debt and other civil cases. They were gradually given further responsibilities. Under the Bankruptcy etc Act 1847, jurisdiction for bankruptcy cases relating either to non-traders, or to traders owing relatively small sums, passed to County Courts. The Bankruptcy Act 1883 gave them (in all bankruptcy cases) all the powers and jurisdiction of the High Court. Until 1947, they had reponsibility for cases under the Workmens Compensation Acts.

Croydon County Court opened in 1848 and was first held at the Town Hall in the High Street. Following the demolition of the Town Hall in 1893, it shared temporary accomodation with the Police Court and the Council Chamber in a corrugated iron building on Park Street and remained there until May 1906 when its new purpose built buildings on Scarbrook Road were opened. In 1968 it moved to the Law Courts, Barclay Road and again in 1991 to the Law Courts, Altyre Road. Its area of jurisdiction initially covered the same area as the Croydon Poor Law Union; ie. Croydon, Addington, Beddington , Coulsdon, Merton, Mitcham, Morden, Sanderstead, Penge, Wallington and Woodmansterne. Chelsham, Farleigh, Tatsfield and Warlingham were added to its area in 1859. As a Bankruptcy Court, and for judicial trusts, its jurisdiction extended over a wider area, covering much of Surrey (but excluding the Kingston, Guildford and Farnham districts); and also the Bromley and Orpington district of Kent.

The modern County Court, often referred to as the Small Claims Court, today deals with civil matters, such as claims for debt repayment, including enforcing court orders and return of goods bought on credit, personal injury, breach of contract concerning goods or property, family issues such as divorce or adoption and housing disputes, including mortgage and council rent arrears and re-possession.

Croydon Court

  • CB123
  • Corporate body
  • 1532

The Archbishop of Canterbury was lord of the Manor of Croydon throughout the period of this roll, although the 1532 court was held during the vacancy following the death of Archbishop William Warham. The 1533 court is described as the first court of Archbishop Thomas [Cranmer].

Croydon Darby and Joan Club

  • CB132
  • Corporate body
  • 1945

Croydon Darby and Joan Club was established in April 1945, at the initiative of the Mayor of Croydon, George Lewin, and with the support of Sir Herbert Williams MP. The first President was Geoffrey Fisher, Archibishop of Canterbury. It was the second Darby and Joan Club in the country, the first being at Streatham. The club was a social centre for the elderly: membership was free to all old age pensioners, and it offered cheap meals and teas, hot baths, leisure facilities (a lounge, a billiard room, a sewing room, a library, a television room, etc), and events such as whist drives and outings. The club was initially based in Haling Cottage, 76 Brighton Road (leased from the Whitgift Foundation), which formally opened in July 1945. It subsequently moved to freehold premises at 'Parkhyrst', 58 Addiscombe Road, which opened in July 1948.

The club was a Limited Company without share capital. It was largely financed by voluntary contributions, including one-off and covenanted donations; and through a range of fundraising activities.

Croydon Domestic Mission

  • CB181
  • Corporate body
  • 1886

Croydon Domestic Mission opened July 1886 in Dennett Hall, 17 Dennett Road, Broad Green , West Croydon. The foundation stone for the hall was laid by Mr Fred Nettlefold of Norwood ( Nettlefold Sons Tool Manufacturers ).

The societys mission statement was:

The objects of the society shall be the intellectual, moral and religious improvement of the neighbourhood, and the amelioration of its condition, irrespective of creed. The operations of the society shall be conducted in an unsectarian spirit.

The 1888 street directory entry reads 59 Dennett Road, Mission Room. The street numbering had changed by 1939 and the entry in the street directory for that year appears between nos. 15 23 and reads as Dennett Hall, Randall Mrs Caretkr. (res). By 1955 the hall is numbered as 17.

The mission closed in 1959 and Dennett Hall was sold to the Full Gospel Church (also known as Assemblies of God ) for 1633,750. The sale was completed 21 December 1959.

Croydon Federation of Ratepayers Associations

  • CB125
  • Corporate body
  • 1890

Ratepayers Associations developed throughout Croydon from the 1890s onwards, each normally covering a single ward. Originally simple residents pressure groups, they soon began to put forward candidates for Council elections. They were technically non-partisan and non-political, but in fact attracted Conservatives and Liberals, and were openly anti-Labour. (Labour candidates were generally the only ones at this time who stood under a party banner.) The Associations were in favour of low rates, and routinely criticised the Council for unnecessary expenditure.

The Croydon Federation of Ratepayers Associations was formed in June 1903 as a loosely organised umbrella body.

In the late 1930s, the Federation became a more cohesive, and more politically active, body. For some time, anti-socialist members of the Council had felt the need for a united policy, and this had led to the formation of the 'Twenty-one Club', a caucus named after the initial number of members. The Club was criticised for being 'secret', non-accountable, and exclusive; and in 1938, as an alternative solution, a new Committee of all non-Labour aldermen and councillors was established under the auspices of the Federation. The Federation therefore became virtually a party in its own right, which could, on occasion, dictate policy to the individual Associations.

After World War 2, the influence of the Federation was diminished by the growing number of Conservative Party candidates. In an attempt to embrace as wide a constituency as possible, the Federation changed its name, first to the Croydon Federation of Ratepayers and Residents Associations; and then (in October 1956) to the Croydon Federation of Ratepayers, Residents and Electors associations. However, by the late 1950s the Federation was moribund, and it appears to have been wound up in the 1960s.

The Presidents of the Federation in the period covered by these records were Cllr AH Harding (to November 1939); succeeded by Alderman EEL Arkell. The Secretary was Frederic S Parsons to April 1945, when he was succeeded by Cllr WT Holcombe.

Croydon Foreign Language Club

  • CB167
  • Corporate body
  • 1888 - 1961

Croydon Foreign Language Club was founded in October 1920 on the initiative of John Marshall Silver (c1888-1961), a teacher. It was modelled on the Foreign Circle at Bradford, with which he was familiar.

The aim of the Club was always to provide an environment in which foreign languages could be heard and practised. (Tuition was never offered, on the grounds that this was better provided by other types of organisation.) The central activity was always a programme of lectures in foreign languages, normally engaging native speakers. There were also, at different periods, plays, excursions, and social events. The Club always took pride in the fact that (unlike other language clubs) it was not tied to a single language, but catered for several. These included French and German invariably; Italian and Spanish less regularly; and Russian sporadically from the mid-1960s onwards. It usually met in Croydon Library. The Clubs activities were suspended from 1940 to 1945 but resumed after the war. The Club was wound up in 1997.

Croydon Foundry Ltd

  • CB142
  • Corporate body
  • 1920

Croydon Foundry was established in 1920 in what was then Waddon Marsh Lane: its premises became 66 Purley Way in 1924. The company manufactured iron engineering castings, up to 6 tons in weight. It went into voluntary liquidation in December 1972.

Croydon Head Teachers Association

  • CB190
  • Corporate body
  • 1885

Souvenirs of annual dinners given to members of the Croydon Head Teachers Association (and others associated with education in Croydon) by Arther H. Harding (1885-1952; Mayor, 1939-42), and his daughter, Miss K. Maureen Harding. Mr Harding did not attend the dinner in October 1952 through illness, and he died in November. The location is the Cafe Royal, North End, Croydon.

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