thumb Catford is a district of South East London, within the London Borough of Lewisham. It is located south west of Lewisham. It is also Template:Convert south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.<ref name=london_plan_f08>Template:Cite web</ref>
The 1960s and 70s had a considerable impact on the architecture of Catford. The old Town Hall, 'the Catford Cathedral' of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968, soon after the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford. Laurence House, where many of the borough's offices are housed, is on the site of old St Laurence's Church (aka the Catford Cathedral). The brutalist Eros House, which replaced the Lewisham Hippodrome (Catford's music hall designed by the famous theatre architect Frank Matcham) in 1960, is now Grade II listed. Architecture critic Ian Nairn praised Eros House 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.
In Rushey Green outside Eros House, the old village hand-pump from the 1850s survives. In 1974 the Catford shopping centre was built by the brutalist architect Owen Luder.
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.
Broadway Theatre, Catford, which is a fine art deco building, adjoins the town hall. This is a curved stone structure decorated with shields and heraldic emblems and topped with an attractive 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 opposite the theatre until its closure in 2002. Catford also boasts a Territorial Army centre and a large Gothic police station (despite the largest police station in Europe being just down the road in Lewisham). In 2006, a large blue pipe sculpture was unveiled outside Eros House. In November 2010, there was a riot against student fees increase at the town hall which ended up making national news.
Catford was also affected by the 2011 England riots. On 8 August, Argos, JD Sports, KA Rowland optician, and Blockbuster video were all damaged and looted by rioters.
Culture and identity
The name derives 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.Template:Citation needed
Catford's most prominent landmark is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre. This is a small shopping centre, housing Tesco and Iceland supermarkets as well as some independent shops in the punningly-named Catford Mews. There is a street market on Catford Broadway. Catford has several pubs and a variety of non-chain restaurants and cafes. Catford's oldest pub is the Black Horse and Harrow (now called the Goose on the Green) and Karl Marx is reputed to have been an occasional patron.Template:Citation needed The pub has existed since at least 1700Template:Citation needed though the present building dates from 1897. Between 1932 and 2003, Catford Stadium was a successful greyhound racing track, but was closed and then destroyed by fire in 2005 and ultimately demolished to make way for a new housing development. Template:As of, the site of Catford Greyhound Stadium remains vacant and overgrown.
Catford was historically part of Kent until 1889, when it was absorbed into the new London County Council, along with the majority of the present day London Borough of Lewisham. Catford covers most of SE6 postcode district. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.<ref name="london_plan_f08"/>
Other than the shows at the Broadway Theatre the main cultural events are Lewisham Peoples day held in Mountsfield Park. The yearly beer festival organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), was held at the theatre until 2008. The Catford Beer Festival was one of the largest in southern England.Template:Citation needed
In recent years Catford has been satirised in The Chap magazine series called 'A year in Catford' after Peter Mayle's bestseller A Year in Provence. The magazine poked fun at Catford's mundanity.
The Catford Mews which was open for many years has now shut down to make way for a poundland.Template:Citation needed
Places of worship
Catford has 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 Plymouth Brethren at Wildfell Hall, Wildfell Road have conducted the world-famous Catford Lectures for over 50 years. The original gothic C of E 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 metres down Bromley Road. This church follows a traditional Anglican Mass and has their own choir. Template:Citation needed
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.
There is a large Muslim community served by the Lewisham Islamic Centre, which also serves the needs of Muslims from all over Lewisham.
There are also Sikh, Buddhist and Hare Krishna temples. Atheists are also known to live in the area, and the South East London (formerly Lewisham) Humanist Group meet on the 3rd Thursday each month at The Goose, Rushey Green.
- 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 the 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 the art photographer lives in the area.
- Andy McNab Former S.A.S serviceman and writer was born in Catford
- Maxwell Confait, Colin Lattimore, Ronal Leighton and Ahmet Salih. See The Murder of Maxwell Confait.
- Ethel Le Neve.
- 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.
- Jack Percival, professional footballer
- 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 Pentangle.
- Japan (band), Glam rock band of the late 70s who all attended Catford Boys School.
Catford Stadium was one of the most famous greyhound racing venues in the UK until its closure in 2005. It also hosted boxing and several other sporting events. The stadium has now been demolished and there are plans to build 500 apartments and community facilities including new shops and a doctors surgery on the site.
Catford has a Non-League football club Lewisham Borough F.C. who play at the Ladywell Arena.
Catford Southend F.C. were a once successful non-league side who groundshared with Charlton Athletic F.C. at The Mount stadium and nearly merged with. However, the deal was scuppered and Charton went onto Football League success while Catford Southend fell into obscurity. The most prominent Sunday League side now in Catford is Catford Strollers F.C. Catford also boast a large 5-a-side center with many teams. Catford Saints were a professional baseball side playing in the London Major Baseball League in the early 20th century.
The Catford Cycling Club 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.
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 is served by two rail stations. Catford station, with services to Kentish Town (London Victoria on Sundays) and Sevenoaks via Swanley. Also Catford Bridge station with services to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street and Hayes.
Catford is served by many Transport for London bus routes, linking it with areas including Beckenham, Bromley, Central London, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Dulwich, Eltham, Greenwich, Lewisham, Orpington, Peckham, Penge, Sidcup and Woolwich.
Other nearby areas
- Horn Park
- Grove Park
- Catford from the OpenStreetMap
- Catford - a short history from Ideal Homes website
- History of Catford from The South London Guide
- Catford Dog Track from Derelict London website
- Catford's 'Lewisham Hippodrome' (now demolished) from Ideal Homes website
- Parish church of the part of Catford south of Catford bridge
- Catford community portal and information web site