JRGS Alumni Archive - Frazer Ashford's photographic contributions to "Your Croydon"
JRGS Alumni Society

Frazer Ashford's photographic
contributions to Your Croydon's
"From Here to Modernity" series

Croydon Council home page

   

During 2007-08, Your Croydon featured photographic essays from Frazer Ashford (JRGS 1962-69) as part of his continuing series entitled From Here to Modernity, which charted Croydon during the past 25 years.
   In each column, Frazer considered the dramatic changes that have taken place to local Croydon landmarks, but also the similarities between the town in the Seventies and Eighties and the same locations today.

   Listed here his various contributions to this interesting publication produced by Croydon Council. More

 November 2007 | December 2007 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008

"Your Croydon" - November  2007

"Your Croydon" - November 2007 page 15

 November 2007 | Issue 12

In his inaugural November 2007 feature, Frazer compares photos taken of the Croydon Flyover. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "Back around 1980, I was approached to provide images for a publication entitled Croydon – The Official Guide, an annual look at Croydon, setting out the benefits of living and working within the borough. I went on to provide the pictures for several years, and recently came across the original 1981/82 edition.
   “Looking through the numerous pictures, I became aware that some places had changed dramatically, such as the Whitgift Centre, while others, Woodcote Village Green for example, hadn’t changed at all. However, I felt that the vast majority of places were basically the same, with some minor alterations to the buildings being the only evidence that 25 years had passed.
   "To test my theory, I decided to retrace my steps and revisit many of the locations I photographed then, to recreate those images, in their modern settings, by standing on the same spot and using the same lenses. My theory, however, took something of a blow.
   “When I compared the images, I got quite a shock. While fully expecting the extensive rebuilding work and the inevitable progression of the modern office block to provide the biggest changes to the landscape, it proved not to be the case.
   “The biggest change was that Croydon has become greener. I’m not referring to the great ‘carbon footprint’ debate, but greener in the most literal sense. Croydon has more trees, especially in the centre of town. Many of the original buildings are now hidden from view by ever-expanding foliage.
   “This would have been the last thing I’d have thought about if I’d been asked about the changes in Croydon over the past 20 or so years. Some locations have changed forever – flattened buildings are not often reborn – but I believe it’s the trees that have had the biggest visual impact. Now, who would have guessed that?”
   Below are an image of the western end of Croydon Flyover then, and as it looks today.

Western end of Croydon Flyover - Eighties Western end of Croydon Flyover - today

"Your Croydon" - November 2007

"Your Croydon" - December 2007 page 17

 December 2008 | Issue 13

In his December 2007 feature, Frazer compares photos taken in North End at the junction with George Street on a busy shopping afternoon with people dodging through the traffic, and the same scene as a pedestrian-only zone. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "North End was always the main artery running through the centre of Croydon. It was a bustling mass of people and traffic, particularly on Saturdays and during the days leading up to Christmas, when it seemed to take forever to travel from one end to the other. Then, in a stroke, the traffic was gone and pedestrians ruled the world. It was different, but something was missing – the heart had been taken out of our town – the atmosphere had left with the last bus.
   "But then something happened, a new atmosphere was born. Street market stalls, kids’ roundabouts, exhibition stands, small café areas and, most importantly, trees came to take the place of the traffic. It might still be as busy as far as pedestrians are concerned, but now you can see just how just much our main artery has effectively been unblocked."

North End - 1980/81North End - Today

"Your Croydon" - February 2008

"Your Croydon" - February 2008 page 18

 February 2008 | Issue 14

In his February 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken in the High Street opposite Grant's department store, before and after the traffic flow was reduced. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 32-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "Grant Bros. was a large, if rather old-fashioned, department store with an amazing frontage overlooking High Street. I remember it being full of wood flooring and wood panelling, unlike the modern stores of today. High Street was a bustling place with a constant traffic flow as it formed part of the main A23 that passed straight through the centre of Croydon.
   "Over the years, cars and trucks were rerouted, with only buses and local traffic passing the buildings. Grants itself closed and, after years of decay, a new complex including bars, a multi-screen cinema and a health club opened on the site, bringing a new lease of life to this part of our town. Thankfully, most of the original Grant Bros frontage has been retained and continues to give the area a unique look.
   "I first photographed High Street in 1981 and when I returned, a few months ago, I found it difficult to repeat my original shot due to the trees that now seem to have taken over, giving the area a very pleasant and green feel. In fact, the area is full of pedestrian-friendly open-air seating, ideal for passing the time of day or grabbing a bite of lunch.
   "Interestingly, on studying the picture that I took back in 1981, I see that the Grants frontage was covered in bunting. Does anybody remember what was being celebrated?"
ML adds: "Several Your Croydon readers wrote in suggesting that the bunting was possibly in celebration of the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer."

High Street - 1981 High Street - Today

"Your Croydon" - March 2008

"Your Croydon" - March 2008 page 18

 March 2008 | Issue 15

In his March 2008 feature, Frazer revisits the Whitgift Centre. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "It was the heart of Croydon and had been built on the 12-acre site left vacant by Trinity School of John Whitgift when it moved to Shirley in 1965. Boasting 200 shop units and a large public house (The Forum) in a two-level pedestrian precinct connected by escalators, a moving pavement and circular ramps, all serviced by underground roads, it was hailed as one of the most modern shopping centers in the UK. It was the height of shopping luxury, but, never standing still, has grown and developed over the years.
   "Today, it has changed beyond all recognition from its original layout. The main changes have included the division of the large open areas into covered shopping avenues, offering many more shops and restaurants, all under one roof.
   "This month’s modern picture was taken from the same spot as the black and white image, or as near as I could get, and really shows just how much has changed. The Forum and the walking pavement have gone, and, protected from the weather, it all looks so much more inviting and friendly these days.
   "To many, the Whitgift Shopping Centre – as it is now known – still represents the heart of Croydon and, thanks to the major surgery it has undergone over recent years, is likely to continue to do so."

Whitgift Shopping Center  - Then Whitgift Shopping Center  - Today

"Your Croydon" - Apr 2008

"Your Croydon" - Apr 2008 page 18

 April 2008 | Issue 16

In his April 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken in Wellesley Road looking south, with the Whitgift centre shown on the right. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "In living memory, the main road running through Croydon has been the A23. For a time, before Purley Way took that road designation, the A23 ran through central Croydon, taking in North End, the very centre of Corydon's shopping area.
   "Parallel to this ran Wellesley Road which, until 1965, was a relatively quiet road bounded on its western side by the Whitgift Middle School – better known as Trinity – and its playing fields. The school moved and made way for the mighty Whitgift Shopping Centre, which opened its first shop in 1968.
   "As the volume in traffic through Croydon increased, the relatively narrow North End became a bottleneck, and Wellesley Road become the main thoroughfare for traffic through the town centre. Surprisingly, the road has not changed a great deal over the past 25 years. A couple of new buildings have sprung up but perhaps the greatest change is to the road furniture and markings that now seem to dominate the scene.
   "Trams also run down the centre of the road, increasing the feeling that Wellesley Road carves a great swathe through our town and divides the centre into two."

Wellesley Road - 1981 Wellesley Road - Today

"Your Croydon" - May 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - May 2008 page 21

 May 2008 | Issue 17

For his May 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken of the Whitgift Almshouses, before and after the tram lines were added along George Street and down Crown Hill. Click each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "In living memory, the main road running through Croydon has been the A23. For a time, before Purley Way took that road designation, the A23 ran through central Croydon, taking in North End, the very centre of Croydon's shopping area.
   "At the corner of George Street and North End, arguably the very centre of Croydon, are some very special buildings. The Whitgift Almshouses, or to give them their real name, The Hospital of the Holy Trinity, have occupied that corner in Croydon since they were completed in 1599.
   "The Almshouses have not only withstood the ravages of time, but also the attentions of the planners who have plotted their downfall many times in the interests of reconstruction and road widening. The House of Lords finally saved them permanently in 1923. While the Almshouses have remained virtually unchanged, the roads outside have seen many changes.
   "North End, once the main thoroughfare through our town, is now pedestrianised, while George Street operates one-way traffic. Opposite the buildings, Crown Hill, over the years, has been one-way traffic, driving up the hill; one-way traffic, driving down the hill; and then pedestrianised, with a strange red-brick observation platform-cum-seating area blocking the road - which proved just as popular with the town’s pigeons as its citizens.
   "Now, however, it is part of the route for Croydon Tramlink, with the frequent trams rolling across the junction before gliding down the hill. So, it is ironic that this busy junction, steeped in history, at the very heart of Croydon has become the meeting point for one of our town’s oldest buildings and a very modern urban travel innovation."

Whitgift Almshouses - Then Whitgift Almshouses - Today

"Your Croydon" - June 2008

"Your Croydon" - June 2008 page 21

 June 2008 | Issue 18

 In his June 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken at East Croydon Station. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "Most of the archive pictures in this series have been selected from the images that I took for The Croydon Guide between 1978 and 1982. However, while digging into my dusty old archives I found an unmarked film that, by a process of elimination, appears to have been shot in about 1965. I had saved my money and bought my first camera, a PlusFlex 35mm SLR, from somewhere in Holborn when I was living as a schoolboy a short distance from East Croydon station. I got up very early the next day, a misty Sunday morning, and set off into Croydon to test out this piece of technology.
   "So, this is not only one of my first pictures, it’s certainly from the first roll of film that I developed with an Ilford Home Photo Lab kit in my bedroom. I have included this image in the series not for its quality but for the strangely eerie and simple view of East Croydon. One bus stop, one car and not a soul in sight.
   "Apart from the old Victorian station on the left, the other interesting factor is that, through the mist, you can see an old house that I believe was a solicitor’s office. It was demolished not long after this photo was taken to make way for the NLA Tower, or the Threepenny-bit Building as it became known. How things have changed for this part of Croydon that is now the hub of the town’s transport system"

East Croydon - 1965 East Croydon - Today

"Your Croydon" - July 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - July 2008 page 29

 July 2008 | Issue 19

For his July 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken of the former JRGS site on Tamworth Road, West Croydon. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 32-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "This image is of Tamworth Road looking north toward the London Road/North End junction. Apart from the fact that the area was mainly residential then, the outstanding point of interest is on the left-hand side of the view, Croydon House.
   "Some 13 years earlier, on 2 November, 1952, Christopher Craig and Derek Bentley tried to break into this building, the warehouse of confectionery manufacturer and wholesaler Barlow & Parker. The two youths were spotted climbing over the gate and up a drainpipe to the roof by a nine-year-old girl in a house across from the building, the wall of which can still be seen on the right-hand edge of both pictures. She alerted her parents and her father called the police from the nearest telephone box. As a result of events which are disputed to this day, PC Sidney Miles was shot dead. Albert Pierrepoint hanged Derek Bentley for the crime on 28 January, 1953, at Wandsworth Prison.
   "There have been many debates, campaigns and arguments over the judgment and the sentence, but there is no dispute that Tamworth Road has earned its place in criminal history."

Tamworth Road - 1965 Tamworth Road - Today

"Your Croydon" - August 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - August 2008 page 29

 August 2008 | Issue 20

For his August 2008 feature, Frazer remembers his childhood in New Addington. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "The first address that I remember living at was a flat above Woolworths on Central Parade. I guess that this must have been around the mid-’50s and I would travel into Croydon to go to school on a daily basis. Lodge Lane was just that, a country lane, and the land in front of Central Parade, where the library and leisure centre now stand, was just waste ground where I would ride my bike.
   "At the far end of this ground, where Overbury Crescent met Central Parade, not far from where the trams now terminate, there was a large flat area that was a regular location for many a fair or circus. I would lean out of my bedroom window and watch the lights and hear the music on what, to me, were wondrous occasions.
   "The main change which occurred while we were living there was the “joining up” of the two halves of Central Parade. There were about 20 shops at the north end of the parade and around the same number at the southern end. Slowly the gap became smaller until, one day, the gap was gone and the long parade that we know today was complete. I believe that the original plans showed that a mirror image of the parade was to be built opposite on the waste ground, but this never happened.
   "We moved to South Croydon around 1959 and, apart from returning to see old friends, I lost touch with the area.
   "The picture shows the Parade in 1979 and, if you can make out the Boots store, on the bend about five shops from the right hand side of the picture, this was where, for many years, the southern parade stopped – literally, the end of the line, and we would look across a massive divide to the northern parade in the distance."

New Addington - 1979 New Addington - Today

"Your Croydon" - September 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - September 2008 page 29

September 2008 | Issue 21

For his September 2008 feature, Frazer raises a glass to a much-missed New Addington landmark. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "The Cunningham public house was once the gateway to New Addington, especially before Fieldway was developed. In the early days of New Addington, Lodge Lane was but a narrow country lane and the first building encountered on the journey up from Kent Gate Way was The Cunningham, standing on the left at the junction of King Henry’s Drive and Parkway.
   "The large, traditionally-designed pub stood guard over those entering the newly-built New Addington, but times and trade patterns changed, and the public house became too big for its own good.
   "As with many similar buildings, it slowly fell into disrepair, while still maintaining a bar service, but eventually the pub closed its doors for the last time. Since then, the building has been demolished and the land lies empty. Whatever is eventually built, the new owners of the site must acknowledge its unique gateway position.
   "While it is commonly accepted that a new pub is highly unlikely to be occupying the site, we should at least raise a glass to the lost icon that was The Cunningham."

ML adds: "It has been reported The Cunningham, which opened in 1981 within the building formerly known as the Addington Hotel, was pulled down for safety reasons after an alleged arson attack. The German shopping firm Lidl then owned the land but could not secure permission to build a supermarket on the site; subsequently the firm opened a store on Parkway close to the Central Parade. The Addington Hotel opened in the Thirties and reportedly was used during the Second World War by pilots from the nearby Biggin Hill airfield." [From November 2014.]

The Cunningham - Seventies The former Cunningham site - Today

"Your Croydon" - October 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - October  2008 page 21

October 2008 | Issue 22

For his October 2008 feature, Frazer spotlights Katharine Street. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "It’s 1977 and Katharine Street is the centre of the borough’s colourful celebrations. It was more than 30 years ago that Katharine Street was the site of a spectacular parade organised to celebrate a notable anniversary of national significance.
   "So, it was around June, 1977, that my wife Clare, my six-month-old daughter Beccy and I stood in the hot sun with the crowds to celebrate the Queen’s
Silver Jubilee.
   "The parade mainly comprised floats entered by local companies, with Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Industry sponsoring one of the biggest. Other attractions included military bands, the Salvation Army, and a number of guests, including The Kent Carolettes, an American-style marching band from Maidstone.
   "The Jubilee year had already been a very good one for me, having photographed the opening of The Queen’s Silver Garden in Hyde Park, and seeing some of my pictures on display at The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Photography Exhibition in Piccadilly, organised by the British Institute of Professional Photography.
   "This was my first exhibition and a memento is the programme to the event, which I have to this day, tucked away in a drawer.
   "Katharine Street seems much quieter these days, with buses being the main form of road vehicle passing the Town Hall and Clock tower complex. And with not a Kent Carolette in sight."

Katharine Street - 1977 Katharine Street - Today

"Your Croydon" - November 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - October  2008 page 21

November 2008 | Issue 23

For his November 2008 feature, Frazer turns his lens to the town center's principal shopping street, North End. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "North End runs right through the heart of the shopping centre of our town. This shot was taken looking south from West Croydon, toward High Street and South Croydon, on what was obviously a very quiet day! I guess that it may well have been early on a Sunday morning, although with modern shopping habits, North End is rarely seen as quiet as this nowadays.
   "Back then, cars were still allowed to drive along the road – although even they seem to have disappeared for this picture.
   "Looking at the shops, I notice that C&A is still on the eastern (left) side of the street, next to Marks & Spencer. In time, the shop outgrew this site and moved to a position on the opposite side of the road, before finally closing down altogether, the site being swallowed as part of the Centrale development.
   "And – a point I’ve raised while assessing other pictures in this series – look how much more greenery there is in the road now.
   "Another point of interest is the domed building in the centre of the image. This was an early cinema that had closed down years before. Interestingly, the dome survives to this day and has remained a distinctive part of the Croydon skyline.
   "Although it cannot be seen in my picture, opposite that building was another cinema, the Odeon, which
I would often visit. I had a school friend who lived in a flat above it and I thought that it was the coolest place to live – above a cinema!
   "That cinema, too, was demolished, and standing now on part of the site is Chapel Walk, one of the entrances to the Whitgift Shopping Centre, and the McDonald’s restaurant.
   "Apart from that, although it is difficult to see in this picture, most of the shops were still small, privately owned businesses, long before the multiple chain stores moved in.
   "North End has changed a lot since those days, and I don’t think that I am referring only to the loss of traffic,
now routed via Wellesley Road."

North End - Seventies

North End - Today

For more examples of Frazer’s work, visit his website. Other editions of From Here to Modernity can be hound here.

Unless stated otherwise, all images on this page are Copyright Croydon Council.
Reproduced by permission of Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.

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