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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
Catford shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Lewisham East|
|London Assembly||Greenwich and Lewisham|
Catford is a district of south east London, within the London Borough of Lewisham. It is located south west of Lewisham. The area is the civic administrative centre for the local authority, and comprises both the Town Hall & Civic Suite. The majority of Catford is located in the Rushey Green and Catford South wards within the Borough.
- 1 Regeneration
- 2 Transport
- 3 Education
- 4 Architecture and environment
- 5 Culture and identity
- 6 Notable locals
- 7 Geography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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 & 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.
In the meantime, £1.5 million has been secured from the Mayor of London's Outer London Fund to make improvements to Catford Broadway which would benefit businesses, residents and shoppers and help to maintain the vitality of the town centre during any future redevelopment works.
Catford Broadway and Catford Market already play a significant role in terms of the local economy. However, in a few years’ time both may become even more important.
The Council hopes to make substantial changes to the town centre as a whole and, in order to facilitate this, Catford Shopping Centre might need to close for between 1–2 years. If that were to happen, Catford Broadway and Catford Market would have even greater prominence as places to shop and socialise.
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.
Specific projects include:
- a complete refurbishment of the streets, with new lighting and seating, and a brand new, level 'shared' surface that will improve accessibility and resolve issues such as drainage
- pedestrianising the street while still allowing vehicular access for businesses, market traders and residents living on Catford Broadway improving the condition and overall look of a number of shop fronts
- providing better facilities for the market and attracting new market traders
- developing a programme of events to attract more shoppers, including a special market on the first Sunday of every month, the Catford Supper Club which frequently sold out during its successful summer 2013 run, and the Catford Canteen.
The refurbishment of the street began in June 2013 and is expected to take until early 2014. Work is being carried out in phases, so the shops can remain open throughout. The market is also continuing to operate as usual, although stalls are likely to be temporarily relocated while their usual location is being worked upon.
Catford is served by two rail stations, Catford station and Catford Bridge station. 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.
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 Rail Utilisation Strategy that there should be a capital infrastructure development in the medium term of developing the Bakerloo line from Elephant and 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 (DLR) extension
TfL are currently considering the extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) 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.
Architecture and environment
Broadway Theatre, Catford, which is a fine art deco building, adjoins the town hall. This is a curved stone structure decorated with shields and heraldic emblems and topped with an attractive 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, and theatre, the 'Lewisham Hippodrome'.
The 1960s and 70s had a considerable impact on the architecture of Catford. The old Town Hall, 'the Catford Cathedral' 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 (aka the Catford Cathedral). 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 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.
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.
In 1974 the Catford shopping centre and Milford Towers was built by the brutalist architect Owen Luder. The design was to make it "the Barbican of the south". 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.
Parks and greenspaces
Riverpool 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 very attractive linear park from Southend Lane to Catford Hill.
Riverside habitats include woodland and some of the best neutral grassland in the borough. The adjacent railsides provide additional habitat, and are included within the site.
It is a good place for birdwatching at any time of year, and one of very few sites in Lewisham where five species of warblers can be seen or heard on a summer stroll.
Mountsfield Park has a wide range of recreational pursuits for the more energetic, including basketball, football and tennis. In the 1920s, Charlton Athletic played at the The Mount (stadium) in the park.
There is also a children's playground for the younger visitor. For those who enjoy more passive pursuits the park has ornamental gardens and a bandstand.
With its central location and car parking facilities, the park is often used for large events. The Council holds its annual People's Day event here each July, which attracts crowds of over 30,000.
Although lower than Hilly Fields the park affords excellent views west over Catford to Crystal Palace in the distance.
The park has a park users group called Friends of Mountsfield Park that steward the green-space and oversee its management and development.
The park consists of three fields with a river running through them. The park underwent enhancements in 2007/8 to the northern field to divert the river into main area of the field creating a natural space where river dipping and paddling is popular in the summer months.
In 2010/11 more enhancements were carried out to the middle and southern fields to open the river up to use and as a result children and adults alike can now access various sections to enjoy the environment, including the kingfishers and the heron.
The middle field contains one of the last established rare Dutch Elm trees in London.
The park is a key cycling and walking route and popular with joggers and dog walkers.
Elements in the park include:
- Northern Field: Children's playground, skate park, tennis courts, Nature reserve
- Middle Filed: Adventure playground, water pumps
- Southern Field: Play area for young children.
- Ball courts, Skate park, Bowling green, Café, Cycle route - Waterlink Way, Dog exercise area, Football pitch, Friends of park group, Green flag, Play area, River, Tennis courts.
Iona Close Orchard
Iona Close Orchard is a fascinating relic of a Victorian garden creating an undisturbed wildlife habitat in the heart of Catford. It remains quite overgrown, but retains some fine old fruit trees. In common with most old orchards, the site is of high nature conservation value. The houses to which it originally belonged date to about 1825. Hidden away behind a few mature ash and Norway maple trees are several fine old fruit trees, apples, pears, plums and a mulberry. Although it has become overgrown, it has remained largely undisturbed, and is therefore a haven for wildlife. Old orchards are generally of high nature conservation value and there is concern that they may disappear. There are a number of uncommon invertebrates which specialise in feeding on dead wood or sap runs on fruit trees. Fruit and nectar also provide food for other foraging insects and birds.
Culture and identity
The name derives from the place where cattle crossed the River Ravensbourne in Saxon times. 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.
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 (now called the Goose on the Green) and Karl Marx is reputed to have been an occasional patron. The pub has existed since at least 1700 though the present building dates from 1897. 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. As of April 2009[update], the site of Catford Greyhound Stadium remains vacant and overgrown. The Catford Bridge Tavern is another old, heritage listed building closed the old Catford Stadium, this mock tudor pub was burnt down in March 2015. Nearby, is the imposing St Dunstan's College.
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.
Other than the shows at the Broadway Theatre the main cultural events are Lewisham Peoples day held in Mountsfield Park. The yearly beer festival organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), was held at the theatre until 2008. The Catford Beer Festival was one of the largest in southern England.
The Catford Mews which was open for many years has now shut down to make way for a poundland.
Community and voluntary sector
Lewisham voluntary sector is large and developed, with many significant community and voluntary organisations based within the Catford area.
The Catford Society was established in 2014, as a result of residents wanting to come together and advocate for their community and locality, after the successful establishment of the Catford Canteen, a pop up weekly restaurant with visiting chefs.
The Catford Society promotes the area as a great place to live, work and study.
Rushey Green Community
The Rushey Green Community Project is a four-year programme levering money into the Catford locality from central government funds. The area was selected for additional funding as it was identified amongst the 30% most deprived Lower Super Output Areas in the 2011 Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The programme creates more social capital by match funding both in-kind donations and volunteering time from the local community put back into the area, up to a value of £2,500 per project.
Voluntary Action Lewisham
Formed in 1967 Voluntary Action Lewisham (The Lewisham Council for Voluntary Service) is an independent charitable organisation that supports the voluntary and community sector in the London borough of Lewisham. Its role is to oversee and grow the many voluntary groups and organisations across the borough.
Rushey Green Time Bank
Rushey Green Time Bank was the first time bank in the UK to be based in a health-care setting. It is the largest time bank in South East London and it has established a reputation for pioneering work in this field for 12 years.
The previously named Private Banks Sports Ground, situated at the heart of Catford has been renamed the Jubilee Ground in honour of the HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, and is now operated by St Dunstan's College the independent school in the locality. It is a 20-acre site and is for benefit not only to the pupils of St Dunstans but also to local authority maintained schools, groups and individuals in the local community.
Catford Stadium was one of the most famous greyhound racing venues in the UK until its closure in 2005. It also hosted boxing and several other sporting events. The stadium has now been demolished and there are plans to build 500 apartments and community facilities including new shops and a doctors surgery on the site.
Local sports teams
Kent Athletics Club is an old and established athletics club based within Catford at the Ladywell Arena. They are one of South London's top athletics and running clubs and regularly compete on road, cross-country and track.
Cricket, bowls and tennis are represented in Catford in the form of Catford Wanderers and Catford and Cyphers sports clubs. Catford also has a skating club. Kent County Cricket Club have played at Catford several times in the past.
Catford Saints were a professional baseball side playing in the London Major Baseball League in the early 20th century.
The Catford Cycling Club was founded in 1886 and rose to European prominence. In 1894 they built their own track south of Brownhill Road complete with a magnificent Pagoda grandstand. However, by the 1950s the majority of the track had been built over yet the club still flourishes to this day.
Places of worship
Catford has both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Non-conformist churches include Plymouth Brethren, Baptists, Methodist, The Salvation Army various Pentecostals as well as Seventh-day Adventists and a Unitarian meeting house.
Atheists are also known to be active in the area, and the South East London (formerly Lewisham) Humanist Group meet on the 3rd Thursday each month in Catford.
Lewisham is a multi-cultural, multi-faith community and all main religious groups are represented in the community with their own places of worship nearby to Catford and primarily in the Lewisham Central ward such as the Islamic Centre that serves the needs of the established Muslim community in Lewisham and across South London.
- 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 S.A.S serviceman 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
- Cat Stevens lived in a flat above a Catford furniture shop in the early sixties
- Jem Karacan, Turkish international footballer
- 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, WW2 fighter ace.
||Honor Oak||Ladywell||Hither Green|
Other nearby areas
- Horn Park
- Grove Park
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)" (PDF). Greater London Authority.
- London Borough of Lewisham (Spring 2014). "Catford Regeneration". London Borough of Lewisham.
- London Borough of Lewisham. "Catford Town Centre Plan". London Borough of Lewisham. Retrieved Spring 2014. Check date values in:
- TFL Bus Route Map from Catford
- Storr, Will (19 August 2011). "Bulldozers home in on historic prefab estate". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "More readers' books of the year". London: The Guardian. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Stadium is destroyed". News Shopper. 25 May 2005.
- "Catford Cycling Club". Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "History of Catford Cycling Club". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
- "South East London Humanist Group".
- Wilkes, Roger (30 January 2002). "Inside story: last refuge for a killer's mistress". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- Mangan, Lucy (26 April 2008). "Catford: a tribute (yes, really)". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
|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