Town Hall

The history of the Borough's Town Halls.

There is confusion over the date of construction of the very first Town Hall, but it is believed to be either 1566 or 1609. The second was built in 1808 to serve the growing market and trading centre but was demolished following completion of the present Town Hall in 1895.

Croydon Town Halls

In 1884 the "High Street Improvement Committee" was formed. It aimed to widen the narrow High Street and tidy up the notorious Surrey Street area. Widening the High Street achieved both by demolishing building frontages and rebuilding anew. One of the frontages was the old Town Hall and it was decided to rebuild a new one on a less valuable site away from the main road frontage. The Central Railway Station site was offered to the Council in 1889 and they proposed "the erection of Municipal Offices, Courts, a Police Station, Library and many other public purposes and yet leave a considerable margin of land which might be disposed of". No mention of an adjacent open space or garden was made at this time.

By 1891 a local architect was instructed to prepare alternative plans for the municipal complex. In October 1894 the Borough Engineer was asked to report "... on the laying and making up of Fell Road and to laying out the land and hollow..." no further mention or plans appear to have been made. However by November 1895 approval was given for tenders to be invited for "...enclosing the land...recently laid out as a garden."

The present Town Hall designed by local architect Charles Henman was officially opened by TRH the Prince and Princess of Wales on 19 May 1896. Constructed in red bricks from Wrotham in Kent, with Portland Stone dressings and green Westmoreland slates for the roof the building underwent many design changes throughout construction, including the widening of the main staircase to be of 'adequate size and importance'.
Parts, including the former court rooms, have been converted for the Lifetimes Museum and exhibition galleries. The original public library, which for some years was used as the local studies library, is now the David Lean cinema, and the whole complex is known as Croydon Clocktower. After 100 years, a brand new public library occupies the area shown on Charles Henman's original plans as "space available for future extension".
Since the mid - 1980s the Town Hall has been completely renovated and restored, and the Mayor's Parlour and the committee rooms have reverted to their original purpose.