Crayford shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|– Charing Cross||13.7 mi (22.0 km) WNW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Bexleyheath and Crayford|
|London Assembly||Bexley and Bromley|
An Iron Age settlement existed in the vicinity of the present St Paulinus Church between the Julian and Claudian invasions of Britain, from roughly 30 BC to AD 40. Roman ruins have been discovered and Crayford is one of several places proposed as the site of Noviomagus, a place mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary as being on the Roman equivalent of the later Watling Street. Crayford is also plausible as the site of the bloody battle of Crecganford ("Creeksford") in 457. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle written around 400 years later describes how Hengist and Aesc defeated the "Brettas" at the site.
Crayford is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which was compiled just prior to 1086, as having a church, three mills, and a relatively large population of 27 regular householders (villeins) and 2 smallholders. Its overlord was not a private individual or the king but Christ Church, Canterbury.
As a (civil/combined) parish (before 1920) it included the hamlets of North End, Perry Street and Slade Green which lie to the north. In 1831, the population of the parish was 2022 people. For centuries it was strongly associated with brick-making, the printing of silk scarves, ties and calico cloths, and for a short period carpet-making.
There were two main Manor Houses in the area during the Middle Ages, Newbery Manor on the site of what is now Crayford Manor House, and Howbury Manor next to Slade Green. Near to Newbery Manor was May Place, built for the Appleton (Apylton) family who served Kings Henry V and Henry VI. Nearby Hall Place was built for Lord Mayor of the City of London Sir John Champneis in around 1537. There was also an Iron Mill, which was later replaced by a saw mill (in 1765), which produced the timber for the floor of Buckingham Palace.
In 1819 the former saw mill site became a flour mill, and another major employer was the silk works set up by Augustus Applegath and later run by David Evans. The Maxim Nordenfeldt Gun and Ammunition Factory was also a major employer, until taken over by the Vickers Company in 1897. Vickers built military aeroplanes and armaments and became the dominant employer, building homes, a theatre and a canteen close to many workshops. The canteen (built during World War I) became the town hall of the Crayford Urban District Council and remains a major landmark in municipal use.
Another former major employer in Crayford was Dussek Brothers (part of Burmah-Castrol since the 1960s) who operated their oils and waxes blending business on Thames Road from around 1928 until the site was bought by BP and subsequently closed down in 2001. The entire site was demolished in early 2010, and is awaiting a buyer. The David Evans silk works is another recent closure, in 2002.
Noteworthy residents include Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, who lived at May Place between 1694 and 1707, and Sir Frederick Currie who also lived at the Manor House, May Place. Inventors Augustus Applegath, Sir Hiram Maxim and Jack Wall, inventor of the Crayford focuser, which is incorporated into many modern telescopes were also residents. Sportsman Derek Ufton, who played both cricket and football professionally, was born in Crayford.
Until the creation of Greater London in 1965 which was effectively an expansion of the County of London, the character and attributes of the place fell just short of town status in the United Kingdom and it was until shortly before World War II little more than an average sized village in Kent with relatively short journeys possible to London and 19th century and early 20th century industrial employment areas such as Dartford and Croydon.
Crayford is now well known for a different theatre (home of the New Theatre Group), a small astronomic observatory and a greyhound racing track. The theatre was named in honour of Geoffrey Whitworth who played a key part in developing a British tradition of amateur drama and in building political support for The Royal National Theatre erected at Waterloo, London after his death. The new Crayford Community Hall, located above the library, is the venue for many groups including Village Concerts, which meets at 2pm on the second Thursday of each month. The lighter music concert is presented in homage to Max Jaffa, concert violinist of the Palm Court Era.
Nearby Hall Place is a scheduled ancient monument lying between Crayford and Bexley. It has gardens with the River Cray running through and a plant nursery, a cafe and restaurant plus the silkworks shop formerly located in the David Evans factory.
The main leisure facilities are Vintage Lindy Lou's, a period tea room selling lunches and afternoon teas, and "The Bear and Ragged Staff" public house well known as a venue for live pop/rock bands;
In addition, Roar Music Academy is popular for contemporary music lessons
"The Bear and Ragged Staff" is an established public house in the town centre. It was briefly renamed "The Orange Kipper" in the mid-1990s but has since reverted to its traditional name.
There are six other pubs in the town centre - 'The Charlotte' in Station Road,'The Duke of Wellington' on London Road, 'The Crayford Arms', 'The Duke's Head' and 'The One Bell', each on or adjoining Crayford High Street, and the latest venue - a micro-pub - The Penny Farthing, on Waterside.
The key shops are a large Sainsbury's supermarket situated next to stadium.
The Tower Retail Park opposite Crayford Town Hall comprises stores used by Poundland, Boots, the Carphone Warehouse, Currys, Thomson Holiday Hypermarket, Game, Hobbycraft, Next with Costa Coffee, Pets At Home and Sports Direct Superstore, plus eateries run by Nandos and McDonald's. Opposite Tower Retail Park is the electronic and gadget store Maplin Electronics and interior furnishing store Topps Tiles.
The High Street is partly one-way for motor traffic and has a few shops and services including a Mace/sub-Post Office, doctors' surgery (now located in the revamped Town Hall), nail bar, golf store, Iceland, florists, takeaway shops, several betting shops and hair salons.
Crayford Motors in London Road is a Citroen car dealership. Bexley Garage in Bexley Lane is a family owned motor works.
On its way from Erith to Old Bexley, the "London LOOP" walk follows the River Cray across the Crayford Marshes and through the town centre. This section of the LOOP is based on an earlier signed walk, the Cray Riverway, and many of the signposts along it still carry the older route's name.
VCD Athletic Football Club compete in the Isthmian League Premier Division ('VCD' stands for Vickers, Crayford and Dartford). They play at Oakwood stadium, on Old Road, Crayford, which they share with Kent Football United F.C..
Crayford Arrows Sports Club is a local football team, established in 1981.
Crayford Jujitsu Club are a local self-defence martial art club, providing Jujitsu instruction to both adults (over 15 years of age) and children (frm 6-14 years old). It was formerly located in the sports hall adjacent to the Crayford Greyhound Stadium, but was re-established at the Europa Centre, on Vimy Way in 2012 after being closed for a number of years.
Speedway racing was staged at Crayford Greyhound Stadium. The team raced in the inaugural 1968 British League Division Two as the Highwaymen before closing down. In later years the sport was revived and the team were known as the Kestrels. The track subsequently closed and the team moved to Hackney Stadium in East London.
Secondary schools in the area include Haberdashers' Aske's Crayford Academy.
Places of worship
Crayford Mosque, Crayford High Street
Crayford Baptist Church, Bexley Lane
St Paulinus Church, Manor Road (Anglican)
St Mary of the Crays Catholic Church, Old Road
Transport and locale
Crayford station serves the area with services to London Charing Cross via Hither Green, London Cannon Street via both Lewisham and Woolwich Arsenal as part of a loop service, and to Gravesend. Crayford is served by three Transport for London bus services, 96 to Woolwich via Bexleyheath and to Bluewater via Dartford, 428 to Erith and to Bluewater, and 492 to Sidcup via Bexleyheath and to Bluewater.
- Bexley Local Studies Note 22 'Crayford' accessed 28 November 2007
- Domesday Map Retrieved 2013-08-23
- Imperial Gazetteer quoted on 'Vision of Britain' website accessed 6 March 2008
- 'Pigots 1840', on website freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~shebra/pigots_1840 accessed 5 December 2007
- Bexley Local Studies Note 12 'May Place' accessed 6 June 2008
- Bexley Council 'Things to do in Crayford' accessed 30 November 2007
- Jeffrey Veal landowner, property developer and landlord of the Fox and Hounds public houseFoxnhounds.co.uk and Ye Olde George inne Shoreham Pubs in Shoreham website Bexley Local Studies Note 76 'Two Local Inventors' accessed 6 June 2008
- Description of the Crayford Focuser accessed 28 November 2007
- "Acts 2 Church, Crayford".
- A description of Crayford in c. 1870 in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (from the 'Vision of Britain' website)
- Two maps of the area c.1800
- Maps of Crayford Parish in the past
- A diary listing musicians booked to appear at the Bear and Ragged Staff public house, 2 London Road
- North West Kent Family History Society - Crayford Parish Page
- Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society
- The brick-faced Town Hall, built as a canteen and offices for Vickers' staff and subsequently used for tea dances and other community events
- The Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre
- Crayford Tubes