Catford

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Catford
Street with row of shops one of which has a black cat sculpture above its entrance
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
Catford is located in Greater London
Catford
Catford
Catford shown within Greater London
Population15,124 (2011 Census. Catford South Ward)[1]
OS grid referenceTQ385735
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtSE6
Dialling code020
PoliceMetropolitan
FireLondon
AmbulanceLondon
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
UK
England
London
51°26′43″N 0°01′15″W / 51.4452°N 0.0207°W / 51.4452; -0.0207Coordinates: 51°26′43″N 0°01′15″W / 51.4452°N 0.0207°W / 51.4452; -0.0207
The Broadway Theatre.
The town centre, with the 'village green' including water pump just visible to the right

Catford is a district of south east London and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Lewisham. It is located south west of Lewisham itself. The majority of Catford is located in the Rushey Green and Catford South wards.

The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[2]

History[edit]

Toponymy[edit]

A map showing the Catford ward of Lewisham Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.

The name derives from the place where cattle crossed the River Ravensbourne in Saxon times. [3]It is also said that the name originates from all-black cats, associated with witchcraft, being thrown into the ford to drown during the witch hunts.[citation needed]

Catford was historically part of Kent until 1889, when it was absorbed into the new London County Council, along with the majority of the present day London Borough of Lewisham. Catford covers most of SE6 postcode district. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[2]

Built environment[edit]

John Betjeman reads William Horton's Petition to Save Lewisham Town Hall, 1961

Early developments[edit]

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 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 .[4]

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.[5]

Brutalist architecture[edit]

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, which is now Grade II listed 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.[6]

Current plans put forward by Lewisham Council are to demolish Milford Towers, as the estate has fallen into disrepair and the land can be better used to meet the needs of local residents.[7]

Landmarks[edit]

The Catford Cat - a giant statue in Catford town centre, depicting a giant cat clawing at the Catford Centre sign.

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.[citation needed] Between 1932 and 2003, Catford Stadium was a successful greyhound racing track, but was closed and then destroyed by fire in 2005[8] 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.[9] Nearby, is St Dunstan's College.

The area was once home to the Catford Studios, producing films during the silent era. Catford also use 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.[citation needed]

Regeneration[edit]

Catford town centre[edit]

Catford is a priority area for regeneration in the London Borough of Lewisham.[10] 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 & The "Wickes" site have all been highlighted for significant change in the proposed Catford Plan.[11]

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.

In the meantime, £1.5 million has been secured from the Mayor of London's Outer London Fund to make improvements to Catford Broadway.[citation needed]

Catford Broadway[edit]

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.

Transport[edit]

Rail[edit]

Catford is served by two railway stations, Catford and Catford Bridge. Services from Catford station run to Blackfriars, St Pancras, Bromley South, Kentish Town (London Victoria on Sundays) and Sevenoaks via Swanley. Services from Catford Bridge station run to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Hayes.

Buses[edit]

Catford is served by many Transport for London bus routes.[12]

Road[edit]

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.

Proposed transport links[edit]

Bakerloo line extension[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Docklands Light Railway extension[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Education[edit]

Local authority maintained schools[edit]

The local council maintains Conisborough College and Greenvale School.

Independent schools[edit]

Catford has two independent schools, St Dunstan's College and a small faith school, Springfield Christian School.

Parks and greenspaces[edit]

River Pool Linear Park[edit]

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.

Mountsfield Park[edit]

In the 1920s, Charlton Athletic played at The Mount (stadium) in the park. The Council holds its annual People's Day event here in July.

Ladywell Fields[edit]

The park consists of three fields with a river running through them, and is next to University Hospital Lewisham. The middle field contains one of the last established rare Dutch Elm trees in London.

Iona Close Orchard[edit]

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.

Sport[edit]

Facilities[edit]

The 20-acre Jubilee Ground is operated by St Dunstan's College.

Catford Stadium was one of thegreyhound 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[edit]

Catford has a Non-League football club Lewisham Borough F.C. who play at the Ladywell Arena.

Kent County Cricket Club have played at Catford several times in the past.


The Catford Cycling Club[13] 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.[14]

Notable locals[edit]

Geography[edit]

Other nearby areas[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Catford South Ward of London Borough of Lewisham". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ Talling, Paul. "London's Lesser Known Rivers - The Ravensbourne". London's Lost Rivers. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Theatres in Lewisham and Catford". The Music Hall and Theatre History Website. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  5. ^ Storr, Will (19 August 2011). "Bulldozers home in on historic prefab estate". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  6. ^ "More readers' books of the year". London: The Guardian. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Milford Towers". Lewisham Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Stadium is destroyed". News Shopper. 25 May 2005.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  10. ^ London Borough of Lewisham (Spring 2014). "Catford Regeneration". London Borough of Lewisham.
  11. ^ London Borough of Lewisham. "Catford Town Centre Plan". London Borough of Lewisham.
  12. ^ TFL Bus Route Map from Catford
  13. ^ "Catford Cycling Club". Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  14. ^ "History of Catford Cycling Club". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
  15. ^ Wilkes, Roger (30 January 2002). "Inside story: last refuge for a killer's mistress". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  16. ^ Mangan, Lucy (26 April 2008). "Catford: a tribute (yes, really)". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2010.

External links[edit]