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A history of Norbury

Price: £7.99

By David Clark, local Norbury historian

Most of the illustrations come from David's extensive collection of Edwardian postcard images of Norbury taken at a time when the area was changing from being rural farmland to becoming part of the burgeoning southern suburbs of London.

The book has been over two years in preparation and builds on the various local history displays David has mounted in Norbury Library in recent years.

Although many of Norbury's ancient buildings have been demolished, one still survives as Norbury Hall Residential Care Home in Craignish Avenue.

Built in 1802 this was Norbury's last Manor House and is thought to have been designed by the great Georgian architect, John Nash.

In 1828 Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew lived there. It was he who presented Lord Nelson with his coffin which was made from the main mast of the French flagship, L'Orient, which the Admiral had captured in the Battle of the Nile.

Another reminder of Norbury in days gone by is to be found at Norbury Station where the slopes leading up to the platforms are all that remains of a halt here which, in the 1870s, was used to off load race horses which were then led down the slopes en route for the Streatham Races which were held on the land between the present-day Northborough Road and Rowan Road.

Among the ancient buildings of Norbury which no longer survives is The Hermitage, after which Hermitage Bridge and Hermitage Lane are named.

Once the home of Tom King, the celebrated "bare-knuckle" boxing champion of England, and the music hall star, Jennie Hill, famous for the song "The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery", the building ended its days as the headquarters of the North Surrey Golf Club until it was destroyed by fire in 1898.

As well as tracing the fascinating history of Norbury from Roman times, David details the development of the various housing estates erected in the suburb in the early 20th century and gives the origins of many of the district's street names.

The book also contains brief biographies of some of Norbury's most notable former residents including the writers Kingsley Amis and John Creasey; the actors Deryck Guyler, Janet Francis and Will Hay, the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and the artist Ernest Shepard who drew the illustrations for the Winnie the Pooh books and Wind in the Willows.

David also details the fascinating life of James Hobbs, who lived at Norbury Hall. He rose from being a humble builder to become the Mayor of Croydon twice only to be jailed for 12 years for fraud five years later.

Paperback 48 pages 96 illustrations and maps of the area.

Text courtesy of Brian Bloice.