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Book reviews - October 2002

'Croydon Past', by John Bannister Gent
Published 2002. ISBN: 1-86077-223-4. £15.99 + p&p from Phillimore & Co Ltd, Shopwyke Manor Ban, CHICHESTER, West Sussex
John Gent's latest book on Croydon includes an impressive amount of detail presented in an equally impressively accessible style and presentation. The location of Croydon, and the reasons for its success and growth compared with the other spring-line villages such as Beddington, Carshalton, Wallington, Sutton, etc, is discussed in terms of geology, springs, topography, and road and railway development. Chapters are devoted to Croydon's parishes and manors, and to John Whitgift's influence (which continues!). The greater part of the book is of course devoted to the 18ths to 20th centuries.

There are some very good maps shewing the relief: parish boundaries related to geology; transport developments; the former springs streams and ponds in central Croydon; mineral industries; former and current public houses, theatres and cinemas; churches and chapels; and periods of development, which are very effective and informative. Reproductions are included from historical maps and estate plans of the 18th and 19th centuries. Almost every page has at least one black and white photograph, line drawing, or other illustration. Many of the historic photographs are unfamiliar, and appear not to have been published before.

The book ends with a list of key dates (two pages), bibliography (two pages), and index (four pages).

This will undoubtedly be seen for some years as the current and definitive overview of Croydon. Paul Sowan

© GLIAS, 2002