From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
Catford - - 98590.jpg
Grid reference: TQ385735
Location: 51°26’43"N, 0°1’15"W
Population: 15,124
Post town: London, Bromley
Postcode: SE6, SE23, BR1
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Lewisham
Lewisham East
The Broadway Theatre.
The town centre, with the 'village green' including water pump just visible to the right

Catford is a town in Kent, wholly swallowed up in the metropolitan conurbation, to the south-west of Lewisham. The town is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]


The name is said to possibly derive 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.

Built environment

John Betjeman reads William Horton's Petition to Save Lewisham Town Hall, 1961

Broadway Theatre is an art deco building adjoining the town hall. It is a curved stone structure decorated with shields and heraldic emblems and topped with a 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 (The Eros Cinema), and the Lewisham Hippodrome theatre .[2]

The 1960s and 70s had a considerable impact on the architecture of Catford. The old Town Hall of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968. Laurence House, where many of the Lewisham Council offices are housed, is on the site of old St Laurence's Church. The original Gothic 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 yards down Bromley Road.

In Rushey Green the old village water 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.[3]

A few examples of Brutalist architecture survive including the Catford shopping centre and Milford Towers, designed by the architect Owen Luder in 1974. The design was to make it the Barbican of the south.

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.[4]


Catford's most prominent landmark is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre. There is a street market on Catford Broadway. Catford has several pubs and a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Catford's oldest pub is the Black Horse and Harrow. 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.[5]


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.


The 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.

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.

Catford has a Non-League football club Lewisham Borough F.C. who play at the Ladywell Arena.

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[6] 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.[7]

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.

The southern, more residential part of Catford is also home to a large Jewish community, many who worship at the Catford & Bromley Synagogue which is affiliated to the United Synagogue organisation.

Notable locals

  • Lieutenant George Arthur Knowland, British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross.
  • Captain William Colbeck (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 serviceman in the Special Air Service and writer was born in Catford
  • 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.[8]
  • 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 the band Pentangle.
  • Japan, 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, Second World War fighter ace.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Catford)