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Authority record

Gillett and Johnston

  • CB001
  • Corporate body
  • 1884 - 1957

Gillett and Johnston (clockmakers and bellfounders) traced their origins to the clockmaking business of William Gillett in Hadlow, Kent. In 1837, Gillett moved his business to Clerkenwell, London; and in 1844 to the site in Whitehorse Road, Thornton Heath, which it was to occupy until 1957. In 1854, Gillett was joined in the business by Charles Bland (d 1886), the firm subsequently being known as Gillett Bland. By 1875, the firm was advertising cathedral and church clocks etc., and patent carillon or chiming machines.

In 1877, Arthur A. Johnston (?1851-1916) bought a partnership: the firm became known as Gillett Bland Co., and then, from 1884, as Gillett and Johnston. Johnston extended the firms business into bellfounding. His son, Cyril Frederick Johnston (1884-1950), joined the business about 1903, and took it over after his fathers death in 1916. He greatly expanded the bellfounding side of the business, being responsible for the installation of a large vertical tuning lathe and the redevelopment of the site in 1905. The firm became a limited liability company in 1925 as the Croydon Bell Foundry Ltd, reverting to the name Gillett and Johnston Ltd in 1930.

In the 1920s and early 1930s it was at its peak: its prestigious contracts included carillons for the Metropolitan Church, Toronto (1921); the Peace Tower, Houses of Parliament, Ottawa (1926); Riverside Church, New York (1928); Louvain University Library (1928); Chicago University Chapel (1930); Wellington War Memorial, New Zealand (1929); and Bourneville (1934); clocks for Selfridges, London (1931); and the Shell-Mex building, London (1932); and the recasting of Bow Bells (1933).

Subsequently (and especially following World War 2) the company diversified into other engineering interests, and new division companies were established: Microcastings Ltd (specialising in precision industrial castings) and Bourdon Tools Ltd (specialising in precision toolmaking). Cyril Johnston retired in 1948 (after some disagreement over company policy), and died in 1950.

In the 1950s, the firm began to run into financial difficulties, and in 1957 the works were closed down. The business was sold to the Bath Portland Group, partly for the sake of the office clock side of the business (the Group already owned the Synchronome company, a rival firm), and partly for asset stripping. The turret clock side was sold on to Cyril Coombes, who had worked for the old company. He carried on business first in Wembley as Gillett and Johnston (Clocks) Ltd. In 1963, the business moved back to Croydon as Gillett and Johnston (Croydon) Ltd. This business was based from 1963 to 1970 in Clarendon Road, and from 1970 onwards in Sanderstead Road. The old companys non-clockmaking activities (including its bellfounding interests, although bellfounding was never again undertaken) were purchased by Cope Allman Ltd, and moved to Portsmouth as Gillett and Johnston Ltd. This firm was subsequently absorbed into Cope Allman Plastics Ltd, a subsidiary of Cope Allman International Ltd.

Cane Hill Asylum

  • CB002
  • Corporate body
  • 1883 - 1992

Cane Hill Asylum, later Cane Hill Mental Hospital, was opened in December 1883 by the Justices of the County of Surrey. Surrey already possessed two asylums, at Wandsworth and Brookwood, and Cane Hill was intended to alleviate the shortage of spaces which was particularly being felt in several of the inner London Boroughs and by Richmond Guardians. It was built on 148 acres of land purchased from the Portnalls Estate by the Justices of the County of Surrey in order to alleviate the overcrowding of the existing Surrey asylums. (The remaining Portnalls Estate land would be purchased for the hospital in 1914). At the time of opening, Cane Hill could accomodate around 1200 patients and another 800 places were added in the next decade. It stood on high ground and had commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

In 1889 the hospital was taken over by the newly created London County Council, along with Hanwell, Colney Hatch, Banstead and Claybury Asylums which had previously been administered by Middlesex. (Wandsworth passed from Surrey to Middlesex County Council; Surrey would get another asylum with the opening of Netherne in 1909.) Cane Hill by this time was expected to serve mainly South London and also, for the time being, Croydon. However as a County Borough, Croydon would be expected to provide its own asylum in due course.

The newly formed National Health Service took over its administration in 1948 and it served the area of South London stretching from London Bridge to Crystal Palace as well as Beckenham and Penge. At the time of its 70th anniversary in 1953 it was reported to be overcrowded, despite modernisation to the interiors.

The last patients left on 15th March 1992. The hospital buildings are currently unused although a purpose built medium secure unit for the assessment of persons awaiting trial was set up in the hospital grounds in the 1980s. This remains open.

Queen's Road Homes

  • CB004
  • Corporate body
  • 1930 - 1987

After the Board of Guardians was abolished in 1930, the Queens Road Homes (formerly Croydon Workhouse) were taken over by the County Borough of Croydon from 1 April 1930, but continued to perform the same function (with a growing emphasis on the care of the elderly). In 1939, on the outbreak of war, the Homes were reclassified as a Class 2 Hospital under the Emergency Hospital Scheme; and as such received chronic sick cases. The buildings were partly destroyed by bombing in April 1941. The hospital was taken over by the National Health Service (SW Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board) in 1948, when it was renamed Queens Hospital, and became a geriatric hospital. It closed in 1987.

Croydon Board of Guardians

  • CB005
  • Corporate body
  • 1836 - 1930

Croydon Poor Law Union was established in 1836, under the terms of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834. It incorporated the parishes of Croydon, Addington, Beddington, Coulsdon, Merton, Mitcham, Morden, Sanderstead, and Woodmansterne; the hamlet of Penge; and, from 1866, the new parish of Wallington (created from part of Beddington). The Board of Guardians, elected by the ratepayers, was responsible for looking after the poor of this area. The Board of Guardians was abolished from 1 April 1930, under the terms of the Local Government Act, 1929. Its work was taken over by the County Borough of Croydon.

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.

Purley War Memorial Hospital

  • CB007
  • Corporate body
  • 1911 - 1953

In 1907, a house in Purley was provided by J.P.Oldaker for conversion to a small hospital. He then initiated further development by obtaining a 999 year lease, starting on 25 March 1908, of land owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which fronted on to Brighton Road. By 1909, a small Cottage Hospital providing eight beds had been built, and it was officially opened by Princess Christian on 31 March of that year. A lease of 1919 further extended the ste to Pampisford Road.

A decision had been taken at the end of the First World War that a suitable memorial would be the extension of the Cottage Hospital, adding further wards and facilities. The whole building was renamed Purley and District War Memorial Hospital and was officially opened in 1922 by which time the hospital now had 22 beds. The hospital was again expanded in 1926, when the Nurses Home was opened, and again in 1927 when the Outpatients Department was opened in a refurbished hut in the grounds which had formerly belonged to the Purley Division of the Red Cross Society. This was quickly followed by a childrens ward, a maternity ward and private wards. The X-ray department was added in 1929. By 1931, the hospital had 50 beds. However plans to expand further were curtailed by the outbreak of war in 1939; only a replacement outpatients department and new nurses dining facilites were completed.

The hospital, which had been dependent on voluntary funding, was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948. The number of beds rose to 59 and a chest department was opened in 1959. The hospital also operated a small casualty department until 1989. The function of the hospital changed in 1985 when the provision of healthcare in Croydon was altered. Purley was now reserved for the care of elderly patients and for outpatient clinics.

Court of Quarter Sessions

  • CB008
  • Corporate body
  • 1889 - 1965

The Borough of Croydon was awarded a separate Court of Quarter Sessions by grant of Queen Victoria, dated 25 June 1889 (i.e. shortly after Croydon had achieved County Borough status). The Court came to an end with the County Borough in April 1965. Quarter Sessions Courts dealt with criminal cases, and with licensing matters.

Board for the Repair of Highways

  • CB009
  • Corporate body
  • 1836-1849

The Board for the Repair of Highways was established by the Vestry of the Parish of Croydon in March 1836, under the terms of the Highways Act 1835. (This Act abolished statute labour on highways, and permitted the levy of a highway rate.) Its function was to supervise the maintenance of the highways of the parish. The Board had eleven members, or Surveyors; and they employed an Assistant Surveyor (the first being Joseph Willoughby). The Board was superseded when Croydon Local Board of Health was established in 1849.


  • CB010
  • Corporate body
  • 1922 - 1945

The jurisdiction of the Coroner for the County Borough of Croydon lasted from 1883 to 1965 (initially as the Borough of Croydon, 1883 - 1889). Before 1883, Croydon came under the jurisdiction of the Coroner for Surrey until 1825 and for the Eastern Division of Surrey 1825 - 1883.

Since 1965, Croydon has fallen under the jurisdiction of HM Coroner for the Southern District of Greater London which covers the London Boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley and Bexley and is based at the Coroners Court, Barclay Road, Croydon, CR0 1JN.

Ashburton Infant School

  • CB011
  • Corporate body
  • 1950 - 2009

Ashburton Infant School opened on 20 April 1950. Between July 1928 to April 1950 there had been a combined Junior and Infant School at the site on Long Lane. This had been known initially as Long Lane School.

Both Ashburton Infant and Ashburton Junior Schools closed in July 2009 and the buildings taken over by Oasis Academy, Shirley Park.

Portland Road School

  • CB012
  • Corporate body
  • 1902 - 1986

Founded 8 April 1902 as Portland Road Infants School. Known as Portland Infants School, 1922 - 1968. Admitted older children for the first time and became Ryelands Primary School in 1968.

Roke Central School

  • CB013
  • Corporate body
  • 1926 - 1969

Opened 2 November 1926 in premises at Roke, Coulsdon, vacated by Roke Primary School. The school moved to Godstone Road in 1950 and became known as Roke County Secondary Mixed [boys and girls] School. Closed 1969.

Ridgeway Infant School

  • CB014
  • Corporate body
  • 1963 - 1987

Founded 17 April 1963. From 1958 to 1963 Ridgeway Infant School and Ridgeway Junior School had been a combined school.

Ridgeway Primary School

  • CB015
  • Corporate body
  • 1958 - 1994

Founded 17 February 1958. The school was for both infants and juniors until April 1963, when separate infant and junior schools were established. These schools were reamalgamated in August 1996 to form Ridgeway Primary School.

Riddlesdown High School

  • CB016
  • Corporate body
  • 1958 - 1991

Opened 8 January 1958. A mixed secondary throughout its existence, it was latterly an 11-16 comprehensive. On 31 December 1991, the school became grant-aided and so ceased to be a Local Education Authority responsibility.

Ashburton Junior School

  • CB017
  • Corporate body
  • 1928 - 2009

Ashburton Junior School opened on 20 July 1928 and was known for the first few months as Long Lane School. It was a combined Junior and Infant School until 19 April 1950 and became a Junior School on 20 April 1950. Ashburton Senior School had opened on the same site in 1931 although it was a separate school administratively. It transferred to Shirley Road on 04 April 1950. Ashburton Junior School closed in July 2009 when the buildings transferred to Oasis Academy, Shirley Park.

Purley Oaks Primary School

  • CB018
  • Corporate body
  • 1873 - 1997

Brighton Road Senior Boys School was opened on 19 August 1873; Brighton Road Junior Mixed [Boys and Girls] School on 22 August 1873 and Brighton Road Senior Girls School on 29 September 1873. Brighton Road Infants School also opened at some point in 1873. Between 24 December 1874 and 31 March 1878 and between 31 December 1912 and 31 December 1921, the Senior Girls School and the Junior School were combined. On 1 January 1922, the schools were reorganised to form a Senior Mixed [Boys and Girls] School and a Junior and Infants School. The name of the schools was also changed in 1922 from Brighton Road to Purley Oaks. On 23 August 1926, a further reorganisation saw the creation of a Senior and Junior School and an Infants School. On 31 August 1955, the senior pupils were transferred to South Croydon Secondary School and a Junior School and an Infants School were created. On 1 September 1981, the two schools were combined into a single Junior and Infants school under one head.

Purley Nursery School

  • CB019
  • Corporate body
  • 1946 - 1993

In September 1946 Bleak House, 64 Pampisford Road, Croydon, which was then occupied by Coulsdon and Purley UDCs Wartime Nursery was taken over by Surrey County Council and became Purley Nursery School. It was leased to the County Council at a rental of 163125 p.a. Three years later the lease was renewed at 163150 p.a.

In 1955, Surrey County Council acquired the freehold for 1633750 (1631250 of that sum being the estimated value of the land). The house comprised four bedrooms; bathroom and WC on the first floor; three receptions, kitchen etc. on the ground fllor and various out - buildings.

In 1975, in conjunction with an exchange of land, a private developer, Caldicott Property Co. Ltd, agreed to erect a new nursery school at no cost to the Athority, but to the Authoritys brief at the rear of what had been Nos 60 and 62 Pampisford Road, the private architect being R.C. Woodward, RIBA of Westerham, Kent. This building was eventually completed and occupied in April 1978 and Bleak House was then demolished.

St Raphael Club

  • CB020
  • Corporate body
  • 1971 - 1993

The Croydon branch of the St Raphael Club for physically handicapped persons was founded in 1971 by Tom and Celia Podd as part of the St Raphaels Federation. It started in St Marys Church Hall followed by St Augustines Church Hall and latterly the Waylands Centre at Fiveways. It closed in 2002 due to falling membership but the occasion was marked with a commemorative lunch in Fairfield Hall. The donor was Vice Chairman of the Club.

Purley High School for Girls

  • CB022
  • Corporate body
  • 1933 - 1988

The school opened as Purley County School for Girls in Godstone Road in 1933. Moved to the Stoneyfield Road site on 22 February 1939. Single-sex throughout its history and a grammar school, known as Purley County Grammar School for Girls from the mid-1940s, it became comprehensive in September 1971, changing its name to Purley High School for Girls. The school closed 31 August 1988 as a result of falling rolls.

Kingsley Infant School

  • CB023
  • Corporate body
  • 1877 - 1992

Tamworth Road Temporary School for girls and infants opened on 8 January 1877. Boys were transferred to Church Road Boys School when old enough. On 1 January 1880 Church Road Boys School closed and staff and pupils were transferred to new buildings in Mitcham Road. Tamworth Road Temporary School probably closed at the same time when a similar move was made. The school was thereafter exclusively for infants and was known as Mitcham Road (until 1921), Rectory Manor, and then Kingsley from 1 June 1931, following a move to new premises.

Wolsey Infant School

  • CB024
  • Corporate body
  • 1949 - 1991

Wolsey Primary School was opened on 14 June 1949 with the Head Teacher and some of the pupils being transferred from Overbury Primary School. Until 09 April 1951, when a separate Infants School was opened, the Infants School was a Department of the Junior School. The Teacher - in - Charge of Infants was Miss M.E.Mooney who subsequently becane Headteacher (until 1968) of the new Wolsey Infant School.

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