Croydon is a large town in South London, England, which has been since 1965 the principal settlement of the London Borough of Croydon. It is located 9.5 miles (15.3 km) south of Charing Cross (a point considered to be the centre of London from which distances are measured) and had a population of 52,104 in the 2011 census.
Historically Croydon was a part of Surrey. At the time of the Norman conquest of England, Croydon had a church, a mill, and around 365 inhabitants, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Croydon expanded during the Middle Ages as a market town and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing. The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was the world's first public railway. Later nineteenth century railway building facilitated Croydon's growth as a commuter town for London (including the City of London). By the early 20th century, Croydon was an important industrial area, known for car manufacture, metal working and its airport. In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced by retailing and the service economy, brought about by massive redevelopment which saw the rise of office blocks and the Whitgift shopping centre. Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.
Croydon is situated on a transport corridor between central London and the south coast of England, to the north of two gaps in the North Downs, one followed by the A23 Brighton Road through Purley and Merstham and the main railway line and the other by the A22 from Purley to the M25 Godstone interchange. Road traffic is now diverted away from a largely pedestrianised town centre, and its main railway station, East Croydon, is a major hub of the national railway transport system, with frequent fast services to central London among other destinations. The town is unique in Greater London for its Tramlink light rail transport system.
Wikipedia traces the history of Croydon with articles headed
For centuries the area lay within the Wallington hundred, an ancient Anglo-Saxon administrative division of the county of Surrey. In the later Middle Ages – probably from the late 13th century onwards – residents of the town of Croydon, as defined by boundary markers known as the "four crosses", enjoyed a degree of self-government through a town court or portmote, and a form of free tenure of property. These privileges set the area of the town apart from its rural hinterland, where the more usual restrictive rules of manorial tenure applied. However, Croydon did not hold any kind of formal borough status.
In 1690, the leading inhabitants petitioned William III and Mary for Croydon to be incorporated as a borough. The application was initially approved, the King authorising the drafting of a charter, but the process was then abruptly halted, apparently through the intervention of Archbishop John Tillotson, who probably feared a threat to his own authority over the town. The application was revived the following year, when Queen Mary again authorised a charter, but once again it was abandoned. A second petition in 1707 was effectively ignored.
Croydon's growth in the 19th century brought the issue of incorporation back on to the political agenda, and in 1883 the ancient parish of Croydon, apart from its exclave of Croydon Crook or Selsdon, was created a municipal borough within Surrey. In 1889, because the population was high enough, it was made a county borough, exempt from county administration.
In 1965 the County Borough of Croydon was abolished and the area was transferred to Greater London and combined with the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District to form the London Borough of Croydon. In 1969 some parts (particularly the village of Farleigh) were removed from the London Borough and returned to Banstead Urban District and Godstone Rural District.
In recent decades, the borough has on several occasions sought city status. (This would be a purely honorific change of title, making no practical difference to the borough's governance.) A draft petition was submitted by the County Borough to the Home Office in 1951, a more formal petition in 1954, and two more applications in 1955 and 1958. When the London Borough was created in 1965, the Council endeavoured to have it styled a City, as was the City of Westminster. Further bids for city status were made in 1977, 1992, 2000, 2002, and 2012. All have failed. The borough's predominant argument has always been its size: in 2000 it pointed out that it was "the largest town which does not have the title of City in the whole of Western Europe". The grounds on which it has been turned down have invariably been that it is (as was stated in 1992) merely "part of the London conurbation, rather than a place with a character and identity of its own". Undeterred, council representatives have more than once described Croydon as "a city in all but name".
Greater London Research Tips
Surrey Research Tips
Part of a list taken from GENUKI
Archives and Libraries
Administrative boundaries of the county of Surrey (Surrey History Centre)