Roundshaw was built on part of the site of the former Croydon Airport, and occupies the area which once stood the buildings of the first Croydon Aerodrome (the 'Plough Lane' aerodrome) which was demolished in 1928. The history of the site is commemorated in various ways; the naming of roads after aircraft, personalities, and firms linked with aviation. The name comes from Roundshaw Park on the edge of the site, itself named from a round 'shaw' or grove of trees, which still features.
The estate accommodates approximately 8,000 people. Construction began in 1965, with the first tenants moving in during August 1967. Dwellings on the estate were heated from a communal boiler house, which is now demolished.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, refurbishments were carried out by the London Borough of Sutton on some of the concrete dwellings as the 1960s construction and build was beginning to deterioate. Due to the layout of the estate, anti-social behaviour was also an issue.
After consultation with the residents, building contractors and social housing groups, the London Borough of Sutton addressed the problems of the original estate, which resulted in a regeneration programme.
Over a ten-year period, 1,000 high-rise pre-cast concrete flats and maisonnettes were demolished. The demolition and clearance was commissioned to Gregory Demolition, and the first areas to be regenerated were Roe Way (street level) and Instone Close (high-rise) which was imploded in November 2000; this followed the rest of the estate being replaced with a number of low-rise houses and brick-built flats. A further 674 low rise homes were retained and refurbished.
The last part of the demolition and regeneration was Shaw Way in 2007. The project was completed in 2010.
St Paul's Church was constructed and opened in 1981, which was also rebuilt and extended during the regeneration, and is used by the Church of England and the Free Churches. Before it was built, it collaborated in a churchless religious venture known as the 'Roundshaw Experiment'. A cross was set up outside the church which is made from a four-bladed propeller, or airscrew, obtained through the Croydon Airport Society.
The primary school was named after the famous aviator, Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo to Australia, from Croydon Airport in May 1930. Wilson's School was moved from Camberwell to Roundshaw in 1975.
Roundshaw Fields hosts the Croydon Pirates baseball team, one of the most successful teams in the British Baseball Federation. The fields have 2 of the best baseball diamonds in the U.K., meaning Croydon are often the hosts of the London Tournament and National Finals.
There are a range of shops and take-aways based in Mollison Square.
The Phoenix Centre is the hub of the local community; in addition to the sporting and recreation activities, the centre has a library and IT Centre, Local Access Point, Youth Centre, Sensory Room and the Beehive Cafe. Charities such as Mencap run sporting sessions and community groups have access to the facilities.
The Phoenix Centre provides the following resources and activities:
- Freedom Fitness Centre
- Group Exercise Studio
- Full Sized Sports Hall
- Women's Morning
- Saturday Morning Family Fun Sessions
- Sutton Evergreens 50+ Sport Activities and Exercise Classes
- Paralympic athlete David Weir lives locally in the area. The postbox in Mollison Square was painted gold in honour of the multiple medal winning performances he achieved at the 2012 Paralympics.
- Sir Alan Cobham, pioneer aviator of Far Eastern and other routes, was a pupil at Wilson's School.
- The main estate road, Mollison Drive, is named after the Scottish aviator, Jim Mollison.
- Hidden London
- Gregory Demolition
- The Hyde Group - Roundshaw Homes
- The Phoenix Centre - London Borough of Sutton