Purley, London facts for kids
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Purley is a town in South London within the London Borough of Croydon. It is located south of Croydon, and is situated 11.7 miles (18.8 km) south of Charing Cross. It has a population of about 14,000 (2011).
The name, first recorded as "Pirlee" in 1200, means 'Peartree wood or clearing'.
Under the Local Government Act 1894, Purley became part of the Croydon Rural District of Surrey. In 1915 Purley and the neighbouring town of Coulsdon formed the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District which in 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, was abolished and its area transferred to Greater London and used to form part of the London Borough of Croydon.
The urban district council was based in a colonial-style building opened in 1930. The building, on the A23 Brighton Road near Reedham Station, became the property of the London Borough of Croydon and was sold to developers. It was left derelict for many years but was converted into flats in 2012.
Kenley Aerodrome, to the east of the town, is currently official property of the Ministry of Defence. It was one of the most important fighter stations – together with Croydon Airport and Biggin Hill – during World War II.
Purley grew rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s, providing spacious homes in a green environment. Northeast Purley stretches into the chalk hill spurs of the North Downs.
One road, Promenade de Verdun, created by William Webb, has a distinction all of its own. It is 600 yards (550 m) long and has on one side Lombardy poplars planted in soil mixed with English and French earth specifically shipped over to the UK, a plaque at one end explains that the French ministry of Interior donated the soil from Armentières, as a memorial to the alliance of World War One and the soldiers who died. Notably, the town was home to Joachim von Ribbentrop when he was ambassador before WWII.
The 32nd Surrey Battalion of the Home Guard was known as the Factory Battalion, and had the specific task of guarding the Purley Way factories: its units were mainly based on staff from the individual firms. The factories adjoining Croydon Airport took the worst of the air raid of 15 August 1940: the British NSF factory was almost entirely destroyed, and the Bourjois factory gutted, with a total of over sixty civilian deaths.
A comprehensive history of Purley and its growth around Caterham Junction (now Purley Station) with the coming of the railways some 150 years ago is found in the Bourne Society's 'Purley Village History' and in its Local History Records publications.
The Webb Estate made headlines in a 2002 survey, which found that it had over the years attracted the highest-earning residents in the UK. In the same year Purley topped Britain's rich list becoming the most affluent suburb and consistently features among the most affluent suburbs in Britain owing to its exclusive gated estates, large houses and greenery yet only less than 30 minutes from central London thus attracting wealthy city workers.
White British is the largest ethnic group at 61%, as of the 2011 census.
Notable references in fiction
- On television the town became known in the sitcom, Terry and June where Terry and June Medford (Terry Scott and June Whitfield), had moved after the characters' previous series, Happy Ever After. The sitcom was set on the cusp of Purley and Wallington (on Church Road in a house within sight of St Mark's Church) and the opening credits featured them searching for each other around the (now unrecognisable) Whitgift Centre – a shopping precinct in Croydon.
- One of the houses used in Footballer's Wives is 7 Rose Walk, Purley, owned by former Crystal Palace FC Chairman Ron Noades
- Purley is famous for a reference in both the "Marriage Guidance Counsellor", "Nudge Nudge", and "Kilimanjaro Expedition" (mentioned only in version in And Now for Something Completely Different film) sketches by Monty Python.
- The CBBC children's sitcom Little Howard's Big Question is based in Purley, featuring continuous references towards Purley and Croydon.
Purley Cross gyratory connects routes leading south-east to East Grinstead and Eastbourne (the A22), west to Epsom and Kingston (the A2022), south to Redhill and Brighton (the A23), and north to Croydon and Central London (the A23 and A235). The A23 north from Purley forms the Purley Way, which leads to Croydon's trading and industrial hinterland and also to the former Croydon Airport, the predecessor of the present London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
The town is on the main London-to-Brighton railway line and is served by Purley and Purley Oaks stations on that line, and Reedham station on the Tattenham Corner Line.
Nearest railway stations
- Purley railway station
- Purley Oaks railway station
- Riddlesdown railway station
- Reedham railway station
- Sanderstead railway station
- South Croydon
Images for kids
Purley, London Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.