A short history of Norwood
During the nineteenth century, there was the enclosure of the commons that were collectively called Norwood – the wood north of Croydon. In 1797, the Croydon enclosure act was passed, those for Dulwich, Lambeth, and Penge in 1805, 1806 and 1827. The Croydon and Lambeth commons contributed 1350 acres, Dulwich and Penge around fifty each to what soon became known as the suburb of Norwood.
One unusual feature of Norwood was the fact that it was in four parishes and because political control had been divided, this had a great influence on the history of the area. The four parishes of Croydon, Lambeth, Camberwell (for Dulwich) and Battersea (for Penge) are now represented by the boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Bromley.
Transport and its changes in speed and reliability have a great influence over the status and popularity of suburbs. Norwood is about seven miles from the City and West End. Horses, public carriages or the expensive public coaches were the only forms of transport available during the first four decades of the nineteenth century which meant that only a wealthy commuter could choose Norwood as a place of residence.
Between 1800 and 1840, Norwood recruited its new settlers mainly from the City. Bankers, solicitors and merchants would use the coaches from the Rose and Crown Inn at Crown Point to get to work. The coach business was eventually destroyed by the rapid growth of omnibus and train services. The Jolly Sailor at South Norwood was the suburb’s first station, on the London Bridge to Croydon line which started to operate in 1839. This opened the door to a greater range of commuters but because the train fares were high, different commuters were not able to use the train for some decades. Crystal Palace encouraged the creation of six more stations.
Gardeners, laundresses, policeman and servants made up the working class population in Norwood in the nineteenth century. The main working class sections were the High Street and Portland Road in South Norwood, the Triangle, Norwood New Town (built from the late 1840s), the Woodland Road area in Upper Norwood, Chapel Road, Norwood High Street, Gipsy Road.
By 1890 the fashion for Norwood was declining because the demand for large homes fell. From that time many of them were turned into institutional uses or converted into flats. By demolishing the large mansions small roads of terraced houses could be created. After the Second World War, council housing increased greatly.
Norwood still has a nineteenth century suburb layout and atmosphere, but as many of its original buildings were destroyed in the second part of the twentieth century, there are types of 1960s and 1970s style housing in its place.