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The Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre, with the Village Green and Water Pump shown in the foreground
|Population||44,905 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Catford is a district of south east London, England, and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Lewisham. It is southwest of Lewisham itself, mostly in the Rushey Green and Catford South wards. The population of Catford, including the Bellingham, London neighbourhood, was 44,905 as of 2011.
Catford is covered by the Rushey Green and Catford South wards in the London Borough of Lewisham.
Broadway Theatre is an art deco building adjoining the town hall. It is a curved stone structure decorated with shields and heraldic emblems and topped with a copper-green spire. It was opened in 1932 as the Concert Hall and is now a Grade II listed building. The interior is in art deco style. The last cinema in the borough (before the 2019 launch of Catford Mews) stood diagonally opposite the theatre until its closure in 2002. Catford also boasts a large Gothic police station. In 2006, a large blue pipe sculpture was unveiled outside Eros House, which was another former cinema (The Eros Cinema), and the Lewisham Hippodrome theatre.
The 1960s and 70s had a considerable impact on the architecture of Catford. The old Town Hall of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968, soon after the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford. Laurence House, where many of the Lewisham Council offices are housed, is on the site of old St Laurence's Church. The original Gothic C of E St. Laurence Church was located where Laurence House is today (known as the Catford Cathedral), but as part of the urban renewal of Catford in the 1960s, the church is now housed in a more modern style building 200 metres down Bromley Road.
In Rushey Green the old village water hand-pump from the 1850s survives.
At the end of World War II, the 188-bungalow Excalibur Estate was laid out in Catford, and by 2011 this was the largest surviving prefab estate in Britain. However, it is now planned that all but six of the prefabs will be demolished and replaced by new housing, although many residents voiced their opposition to demolition.
A few examples of Brutalist architecture survive including the Catford shopping centre and Milford Towers, designed by the architect Owen Luder in 1974. The design was to make it the Barbican of the south.
Architecture critic Ian Nairn praised Eros House as:
A monster sat down in Catford and just what the place needed. No offence meant: this southward extension of Lewisham High Street badly wanted stiffening. Now there is a punchy concrete focus ('you know, that funny new building') both close to and at a distance, from the desolate heights of the Downham Estate, where it stands straight to the afternoon sun. Rough concrete is put through all its paces, front convex eaves on Sainsbury's to a staircase tower which is either afflicted with an astounding set of visual distortions or is actually leaning. Again, no offence meant. Unlike many other avant-garde buildings, particularly in the universities, this one is done from real conviction, not from a desire for self-advertisement. The gaunt honesty of those projecting concrete frames carrying boxed-out bow windows persists. It is not done at you and it transforms the surroundings instead of despising them. This most craggy and uncompromising of London buildings turns out to be full of firm gentleness.
Catford's most prominent landmark is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre. This is a small shopping centre, housing Tesco and Iceland supermarkets as well as other high street stores. There is a street market on Catford Broadway. Catford has several pubs and a variety of non-chain restaurants and cafes.
Catford's oldest pub is the Black Horse and Harrow and Karl Marx is reputed to have been an occasional patron. Between 1932 and 2003, Catford Stadium was a successful greyhound racing track, but was closed and then destroyed by fire in 2005 and ultimately demolished to make way for a new housing development.
The Catford Bridge Tavern is another heritage listed building close to the old dog track; this mock tudor pub burnt down in March 2015, but has since been refurbished and reopened in April 2017. Nearby, is St Dunstan's College.
The area was once home to the Catford Studios, producing films during the silent era. Catford also used to have a cinema diametric to the theatre. Catford was also satirised in The Chap magazine in a series called 'A Year in Catford' named after Peter Mayle's best-seller A Year in Provence. The magazine poked fun at Catford's mundanity.
Catford town centre
Catford is a priority area for regeneration in the London Borough of Lewisham. Several key sites around the town centre have been identified for redevelopment - Milford Towers, Catford Dog Track, Catford Island, The Civic Centre, Lewisham Town Hall and The "Wickes" site have all been highlighted for significant change in the proposed Catford Plan.
Previous attempts to regenerate Catford have been hampered by various complex issues such as the number of different landowners in and around the town centre. However, in 2010, as a sign of commitment to ensuring a regeneration of the area, the Council seized upon the opportunity to buy Catford Shopping Centre, thereby giving it greater influence over future plans.
The council's aspiration is for the complete redevelopment of the Catford Centre and Milford Towers, which would require demolition of both plus the car parks and associated buildings along Thomas Lane. Lewisham Council are currently working towards a target vacant possession date for the site of late 2015, although this is subject to many factors, including identifying a deliverable scheme, and agreeing commercial terms with the key parties who are, or will be, involved in the redevelopment of the site.
Catford Broadway and Catford Market already play a significant role in terms of the local economy. The Council hopes to make substantial changes to the town centre as a whole and, in order to facilitate this, Catford Shopping Centre may close for between one and two years.
In 2011, the Council successfully obtained £125,000 from Round 1 of the Mayor of London's Outer London Fund to develop designs and carry out feasibility surveys to explore how Catford Broadway could provide a better environment for businesses, residents and shoppers. The results of this work formed part of a bid for further Outer London Fund money, and in January 2012 it was announced that just under £1.5 million has been allocated to carry out a series of improvements. The council is providing approximately £600,000 in match funding.
Catford is served by two railway stations, Catford and Catford Bridge. Catford provides the area with Thameslink services to Kentish Town, London Blackfriars, Orpington via Bromley South and to Sevenoaks via Bromley South and Swanley. Catford Bridge is served by Southeastern services to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street via Lewisham and to Hayes.
Catford's main road is the A205 South Circular which crosses South London, running from Woolwich in the east to the junction of the A406 (North Circular Road), the M4 and the A4 at Gunnersbury in the west.
Bakerloo line extension
It has been highlighted in the Network Rail Route Utilisation Strategy that there should be a capital infrastructure development in the medium term of developing the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle through to Catford. This programme of work is known as the Bakerloo line extension and could start as early as 2020.
Docklands Light Railway extension
Transport for London (TfL) are currently considering the extension of the Docklands Light Railway from Lewisham to Bromley, with the first phase being from Lewisham to Catford. So far TfL have not expressed a preferred route, provided detailed plans, or indicated costs and funding. Lewisham Council has suggested that any route should be underground to reduce physical and visual impact.
Parks and greenspaces
River Pool Linear Park
The walk follows the River Pool downstream from the Ravensbourne River. The banking has been planted with native trees and shrubs, herbaceous planting, wild flower grassland and wetland marginal planting. The park forms part of the Waterlink Way which forms a significant section of the river from Sydenham to the Thames.
Unlike many of London's rivers, the Pool remains above ground for most of its length. The section of river flows through a linear park from Southend Lane to Catford Hill.
Iona Close Orchard
Iona Close Orchard is a preserved Victorian garden. In common with most old orchards, the site is of high nature conservation value. The houses to which it originally belonged dated to about 1825.
The 20-acre Jubilee Ground is operated by St Dunstan's College.
Catford Stadium was one of the greyhound racing venues in the UK until its closure and subsequent demolition in 2005. It also hosted boxing and several other sporting events.
Local sports teams
Kent County Cricket Club have played at Catford several times in the past.
The Catford Cycling Club was founded in 1886. In 1894 they built their own track south of Brownhill Road with a pagoda grandstand. By the 1950s the majority of the track had been built over but the club still exists.
- Joe Gomez (footballer), defender for Liverpool F.C. Born in Catford.
- Lieutenant George Arthur Knowland, British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross.
- Captain William Colbeck (seaman) (1871 -1930), Antarctic explorer, lived in Inchmery Road. His sons went to St Dunstan's.
- Sir Henry Cooper, British heavyweight boxer came from the area.
- Spike Milligan (1918–2002) the comedian and writer went to school at Catford's Brownhill Boys' School and often visited the suburb where his aunt and uncle lived. He claimed to have lived in Catford and wrote about the area in his books and sketches. In reality he lived in nearby Honor Oak.
- Ben Elton, comedian and writer, was born in Catford in 1959.
- Leslie Dwyer, actor, was born in Catford .
- Ernest Christopher Dowson, poet and decadent lived and died in Catford. Dowson introduced the phrases 'Days of wine and roses' and 'Gone with the wind'.
- Anthony Jones, art photographer lives in the area.
- Andy McNab, former serviceman in the Special Air Service (SAS) and writer was born in Catford
- Maxwell Confait, Colin Lattimore, Ronal Leighton and Ahmet Salih. See The Murder of Maxwell Confait.
- Ethel Le Neve.
- Frank Pullen, the property developer and racehorse owner was born in Catford and opened the first of his shops on Catford Broadway.
- Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster - Forster Park is named after him
- Bernard Sunley, property developer and philanthropist, born in Catford in 1910
- Jem Karacan, international footballer, born in Catford.
- Robin Trower, Guitarist, Procol Harum, and extensive solo career.
- Lucy Mangan columnist for The Guardian newspaper claims to have lived in Catford for thirty years.
- Jak Airport, guitarist of punk band X-Ray Spex and new wave band Classix Nouveaux, was born and raised there.
- Jacqui McShee, folk singer and co-founder of Pentangle.
- Japan (band), 1980s new wave band. Vocalist David Sylvian, bassist Mick Karn, drummer Steve Jansen and keyboardist Richard Barbieri all grew up in Catford and attended Catford Boys School.
- Alexander McQueen, fashion designer was born in Lewisham
- Robert Stanford Tuck, Second World War fighter ace.
- Ray BLK, British singer and songwriter.
- Tom Stabb, co-host of Alan Partridge-based podcast 'Monkey Tennis' resides in Catford.
- Chris Welch, music journalist and author, was raised in Catford.
Other nearby areas
- Catford is made up of 3 wards in the London Borough of Lewisham: Bellingham, Catford South, and Rushey Green. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)" (PDF). Greater London Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2010.
- Talling, Paul. "London's Lesser Known Rivers - The Ravensbourne". London's Lost Rivers. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
- Llewelyn, James (30 October 2020). "The true story behind the famous Catford cat statue". MyLondon. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
- "Theatres in Lewisham and Catford". The Music Hall and Theatre History Website. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- Storr, Will (19 August 2011). "Bulldozers home in on historic prefab estate". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 20 August 2011.
- "More readers' books of the year". The Guardian. London. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- "Milford Towers". Lewisham Council. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "Stadium is destroyed". News Shopper. 25 May 2005.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- London Borough of Lewisham (Spring 2014). "Catford Regeneration". London Borough of Lewisham. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- London Borough of Lewisham. "Catford Town Centre Plan". London Borough of Lewisham. Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- TFL Bus Route Map from Catford
- "Catford Cycling Club". Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- "History of Catford Cycling Club". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
- Wilkes, Roger (30 January 2002). "Inside story: last refuge for a killer's mistress". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- Mangan, Lucy (26 April 2008). "Catford: a tribute (yes, really)". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catford.|
- Catford from the OpenStreetMap
- Catford - a short history from Ideal Homes website
- History of Catford from The South London Guide
- Catford Dog Track from Derelict London website
- Catford's 'Lewisham Hippodrome' (now demolished) from Ideal Homes website
- Parish church of the part of Catford south of Catford bridge
- Catford community portal and information web site
Catford is home to the young mayor of lewisham project as the buildings that it takes place are located here