Beulah Hill

This road was one of the ancient thoroughfares of Croydon and when the Town Improvement Commissioners were appointed in 1829 one of the first things they did was to take responsibility for this road and confirm the part west of Westow Hill as Biggin Hill Road. In November 1854 the Croydon Board of Health decided to change the name to Beulah Hill.

Maps and Land Ownership

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Building of the street
This fascinating and comprehensive account was compiled by the late Ken Maggs in 2011.

House numbers: Names were used until 1889, first numbering dating from 1889 in ( ) brackets, 1927 renumbering { } brackets.

This road was one of the ancient thoroughfares of Croydon and when the Town Improvement Commissioners were appointed in 1829 one of the first things they did was to take responsibility for this road and confirm the part west of Westow Hill as Biggin Hill Road. In November 1854 the Croydon Board of Health decided to change the name to Beulah Hill.

Originally the road ran across the mostly wooded Norwood Common which was all that was left of the Great North Wood in Croydon and this is shown clearly on the Inclosure Map of 1800. By the time the name change took place there was an almost continuous line of large Victorian villas in extensive grounds lining much of the road, particularly on the south side. There were only a few properties on the opposite side with four similar large houses (176-182) on the corner from Crown Hill called Grecian Cottages, and much further on Ivy Villa (124). Further east was Deerfield (118), Rose Cottage (116) and a pair of houses – Poplar Villa (100) and Rose Lawn (98). The last building was a little way along and really a cottage unlike some of its more recent neighbours who just used the name to give their residence a rural flavour! It had become the Royal Oak Beer Shop by 1844, a beer house in 1851 but was demolished in 1870 and the Beulah Spa Dairy was built by Frederick Greening on the site.

The west side of the road at the Crown Hill end had a shop(157) on the corner, another a little distance away, and then two large villas, one occupied by a Horatio Love who refused to give his house a name, and Grecian Villa (131) on the corner of Gibson s Hill. Sherwood Lodge (129) was situated on the opposite corner of that side road and Norfolk House {315} some way along past the bend in the road. On the other side of Biggin Farm Road (now Biggin Hill) was one of the largest properties on the road – Springfield (105) and further on Woodfield (81) close to the road unlike most properties like Woodlands (73). Heath Cottage (65) erected in 1831, was the only building along this stretch until Ashtree and Spa Cottages (45), and Spa House (41) on the corner of Leather Bottle Lane (now Spa Hill).

In 1841 the cottage owned by Mr Fielding opposite the hotel had been converted into a beer house, The Beulah Retreat, while Charles Wright had set up his bakery in Roseville in 1851. Two years later his son started a building business in the cottage next to Beulah Villa. Sometime around then the Howard family further along, also began commercial activities – William a grocer s and James, a carrier s business.

Not only did this road experience the building of very prestigious properties along most of its length but also the arrival of three large nurseries aimed at supplying the ever-growing demand for ornamental trees and shrubs for their extensive grounds. The two largest were owned by Daniel Wood next to Woodfield and William Pringle next to The Yews but the one belonging to Samuel and James Copeland and situated near Deerfield was also quite large.

Just before the road name-change in 1854 the stretch of road east of Heath Cottage had seen Oak Villa (51) built further along in 1849, and a year later. St. Margaret s (63), the largest building built in 1850. These were followed by four more properties in 1851: Clarendon House (47), Oakenshaw (57), Merle Bank (59) and Loanda (61). Two years later Dale House (53) filled in the last gap on that section of the road.

It wasn’t until 1859 that a new phase of building began, first with Oaklands (23) and then three years later, the first two houses of a line between Leather Bottle Lane and Grange Road. These were West View (19) and Norbury House (21). 1861 also saw Beulah Spa Villa (49) built at the end of a long drive between Clarendon House and Oak Villa and a year later a pair of houses: Keith Lodge (9) and Bemerton Lodge (11) were built on the south corner with Grange Road. This was also the year that Lewis Ritterbrandt set up his Hydropathic Establishment in the Beulah Spa Hotel but this was short-lived not being mentioned in the street directory of 1865 when the hotel became the Royal Hotel with livery and bait stables.

At this time the Crown Lane end of the road there was a cluster of buildings on the corner mostly owned by Joseph Preddy who was not only a grocer and corn merchant but licensed to let post horses.

In 1864 a dramatic surge of building began with Carlton House (25), Rutland Villa (17) and Bariki House (15) almost completing the zone west of Grange Road. Heath-side (96) was built next to Rose Lawn on the north side, and in 1865 The Conquering Hero Public House (144) was erected north of the pond on the north side. Nearer the west corner with Crown Lane, Arthur Rose had set up as a carpenter and builder alongside another builder. In the same year a pair of houses, Wharncliffe Villa (110) and Chandos Villa (108) were built next to Birchwood (106), with The Avenue (104) being erected at the end of a drive next to Rose Cottage . Yarrow House (35), the first of a line of houses to be built east of Leather Bottle Lane also appeared in 1865 followed by new neighbours: Myntlynn (33), Roswyn (31), Birchanp Villa (29) and Holmwood (27) in 1868. Grange Mount (13) was also erected that year on the northern corner of Grange Road with two houses, Hollybourne (94) and Woodthorpe (92) being built further along on the north side so filling the gap between Heath-side and the old cottage occupied by the Wright family. That year also witnessed the building of four houses on the north side opposite Clarendon House: Sunnyside (48), St Catharine s (46), Elms Lea (44) and Swanshurst (42) while Henry Day launched a farrier’s business to serve the Royal Hotel which in 1874 became the Beulah Spa Hotel and included a new Hydropathic facility.

With all this tide of up-market house-building it is not surprising that more land was sought for new properties and the old working class cottages at the eastern end of the road were to fall prey to this demand, and so starting in 1865 the first row of artisan s dwellings was demolished to make way for the row of villas marching ever westwards from Upper Beulah Hill. In 1867 Strathallan (4), Churchfield (6) and Courtlands (8) were built followed by Thornton (10) and Pendennis (12) in 1868. Bolinghill (14) and Oak Lawn,(16) the last of the line of houses west of Upper Beulah Hill were to follow in 1869. The earlier buildings of this hamlet were still there when the 1868 Directory and OS Map were published, but except for Roseville , the Beulah Retreat building (the pub had closed earlier and converted into two cottages), and the farriers, all the rest had been pulled down by 1870.

Now the serious development of the north side began with two small buildings by the side of the road, Nos. 1 and 2 Spa Place (24, 26) with an entrance to Charles Wright s new builder s yard. No.1 became a thriving draper s business run by two unmarried sisters, the Misses Priesch who employed another sister as a milliner and two dressmakers. On the other side of the entrance, another cottage (22) was erected which became a grocer s and in 1873 two new properties, Cecil House (38) and Rochford House (40) were built west of the smithy by Charles Wright, who in the 1871 Census was now a surveyor as well as a builder and who was to dominate house-building along the road in the next few years. In fact he was to build and own no fewer than 22 houses on the north side and three on the opposite side. That year 1873, also saw Glenmore (28) built next to No. 1 Spa Place and by 1886 Roseville had been divided into two shops, Nos. 4 and 5 Spa Place, a post office and a chemist s.

The road was not numbered until 1889 and so it was essential for properties to have a name but as properties changed hands so often so did the name of the house. Changes that took place up to 1880 include: Beulah Spa Villa becoming Beaumont in 1867 and then Westwood in 1874, and Grecian Cottages becoming Grecian Villas around 1870. Ivy Villa became Norbury Villa in 1871; Beulah Cottage became Binswood in 1876 and then Little Menlo in 1886, while Dale House became Pelhurst in 1878.

In the early 1870s there was still an area with no houses between the Grecian Villas and The Conquering Hero PH, but this was soon rectified with the building of Sketty Villa (174) next to No.6 Grecian Cottages in 1873 followed by a pair of houses (146,148) called Beulah Place in 1875. Five years later, a third house (150) was added to them and the cluster of buildings near Crown Lane now included Simpson s livery stables.

In 1875 Berwick House (32) and Lynton Villa (34) marked the beginning of a plethora of building on the north side with Claughton (122) going up on the other side of the drive next to Deerfield. In 1878 the first wave of building by Mr Wright started with six houses being erected on the north side between two new roads – the southern extension of Hermitage Road, and Harold Road. These houses were Wyoming (50), Avonmore (52) and St Valery (54) with a small gap before another three: Lynwood (66), Trosnant (68) and The Hawthorns (70). 1879 witnessed the space between St Valery and Lynwood being filled with Downs View (56) and an extra house, Eskdale (72) was added to the western end. Work began on Wennington (88) and Ingleton (86) in 1880 and Bordyke (74) in 1881, the year that Howrah Villa (58) was also built next to Downs View. The following year Aubrey (84), Parell (82) and Rostula (80) appeared as well as Nos. 3 and 4 Spa Place. Four houses: Mayfield (1), Higham Lodge (3), Shortlands (5) and Caversham (7) were all erected in 1883 between the top of South Norwood Hill and Keith Lodge. Near the other end of the road there was now a greengrocer s while Mr Love s house nearby was pulled down and in 1885 replaced with Glencar (141), Tytherly (143) and Danum House (145). 1883 was also the year that Mr Wright completed his long line of 12 houses with Leonard Bank (78) and Bank Top (76), while two years later, building on Chamong (64) started and Cheriton (60) and San Remo (62) went up a year later. The last house to be built on that side at that time was Field Cottage (120) west of Deerfield in 1889, when the Crown Lane end could now boast of a fishmonger s!

It was 1889 that the road, now nearing completion was numbered, probably to the chagrin of the owners of the larger properties who thought that having a number was beneath them but probably soon realized that in an emergency it was imperative that an ambulance or fire engine could find them quickly! It is this numbering which is given in round brackets above. By this time more houses had changed their names: Leywood to Lynwood in 1880; Rutland Villa to Villa Albano and Poplar Villa to The Poplars both in 1881 and Bolinghill to Trinity Lodge and Birchamp Villa to Neale Lodge both in 1885.

After all this building fervour in the 70s and 80s the only changes that took place for the next twenty years were the building of Downsview Road on the south side and a few more houses changing their name. Bordyke changed to an even more obscure name Baltrasna in 1890; Tytherly to Petersfield in 1891; Stanhope Lodge to Sundridge in 1892; Bank Top to Crosslands and Caenwood Houseto Caenwood Grange both in 1893.

In 1898 a pair of houses (90,90a) was built next to Woodthorpe (92) but it was 1903 that saw the part of the north side between The Conquering Hero PH and Norbury Villa at last developed. A new road Grecian Crescent was laid out that year with two entrances leading out of Beulah Hill and in the summer, two pairs of houses (162-168) were built south of the northern arm with another pair (142,144) going up a little north of the southern arm in the autumn. The following year four more pairs (146-160) joined them and in 1906 the gap north of the southern arm saw another pair (134,136) built. The gap was finally closed in 1907 with two more (138,140) while the nursery west of Ivy Villa closed and that house was renamed Ormesby . In 1919 the situation of having two sets of buildings numbered 144-150 necessitated renumbering the southern set including The Conquering Hero PH to Nos. to 126-132.

The west side of the road next to Crown Hill saw the arrival of a grocer s in 1894 at No.157 followed in 1903 by a butcher s which took over the greengrocer s; the fishmonger then began selling fruit and vegetables as well. In 1906 No. 151 became a furniture store and in 1908 that became a motor engineer s. Two year s later the grocer s took over No. 155 and in 1914 the engineer s became the Beulah Hill Engineering Works. A boat company ran a business at No. 151 in 1918 and the following year No. 153 became a confectioner and tobacconist s. This state of affairs lasted until 1924 when Nos. 149 and 151 changed to a fishmonger s and fruiterer s.

The next decade or so saw no more building but a different change was afoot; some of the larger houses were beginning to have difficulty in finding new owners when they became empty and two houses, Pendennis and Courtlands were unoccupied for five years from 1915 to 1920.

It was in the 1920s that the zone between No. 118 and The Conquering Hero PH was developed. In 1922 a single house (170) was built next to the run of semi-detached houses north of the southern entrance of Grecian Crescent with a further four (two singles and a pair) in 1923, which to prevent duplication, were given the numbers 172,174a,176a and 178a. The last section between Queen’s Road and the pond was filled with eight pairs of houses – Nos. {248,250} in 1926 and Nos.{226-246} and {252-258} and a detached house {258} in 1927. That year saw all the houses north of these new ones being renumbered {262-324} shown by curly brackets {}.

On the other side of the road the part between Downsview Road and Norbury Hill began to be redeveloped with a rebuilt No.301 and new Nos. 305,307,317 and 319 leading the way. The following year Nos. 283 and 309 were built and 1924 saw a rebuilt No.285 and a new No. 303. No.311 went up in 1925 and Nos. 287-299 started building in 1926.

In 1927, further south on the north side, Thornton (10) and Pendennis (12) which had gone through a difficult period, were pulled down and the following year replaced with five new houses {10, 12, 12a, 12b and 12c} In 1932 Field Cottage (120) was also pulled down and in 1935 Ormesby (124) was demolished and a new block of six flats (Ormesby Court ) took its place.

This was a drastic solution to the problem of trying to keep these large villas financially viable and during the late 1920s many of these properties began to provide accommodation for more than one family. This was clearly shown in the change that took place in the twenty six houses between Harold Road and Hermitage Road. In 1927 there were 23 houses occupied by one person or family but by 1931 only four houses were in this position, the rest having different combinations of families and individuals. No. 60 had three families and three individuals under its roof while No.80 had two families and four individual people. The 1930 street directory also showed another solution – that of using the property for a college, a boys’ home or a nursing home.

The make-up of the commercial enterprises on the west side near Crown Hill did not change in the late 20s but in 1931 Nos. 413 and 415 became a car showroom reflecting the changing times although it ceased to survive in 1938.

In 1936 two new roads had been built out of Beulah Hill: Spurgeon Road next to No. 47 and Convent Hill west of No.186. The following year Woodfield Close past No. 79 was built and the four houses on the east side (Nos. 316-322) at the northern end were demolished to make way for a long parade of 42 flats called Crown Point and shops known as Crown Parade which extended round into Crown Dale. In 1938 four new houses: two detached ( High Orchard (273) and Paulcliff (275) and a pair (Nos. 277 and 279), were erected between Woodfield Close and Downsview Road replacing Woodfield as well as a detached house(No. 281) on the west corner of Downsview Road.

The road did not escape the bombing in the last war, small high explosive bombs destroying No. 60 and damaging No.51 during a raid on the night of the 25 September 1940. The following month on the 11th, saw No.23 wrecked and No. 27 damaged but it was the V1 on the 3rd August 1944 that did the most damage with Nos.62 and 64 being destroyed and Nos.66-70 next to them, and 75 on the south side, so badly damaged that they subsequently also had to be pulled down. Seven new houses (60, 62, 62a, 64-70) made good the destruction of the original properties in 1955.

Like most of Upper Norwood after the war, this road was to see great changes take place which were to completely alter the appearance of this road with many of the large villas being replaced with blocks of flats. Croydon Council’s decision not to allow the replacement of the original buildings that fronted the road with new properties and restrict development only to the land behind them has resulted in a less noisy artery through a wider corridor with strips of open space.

The stretch of road on the south side from Grange Road to Spa Hill saw most of the type of regeneration involving the replacement of villas with blocks of flats. In fact only one villa (No. 35) has survived. The first new block Carlton Court was a modest affair with only four flats and built in 1958 next to No.33 which the following year was replaced with the 3-storey Cranbrook House (33) with 10 flats. In 1960 No. 45 which had been pulled down in 1956 was replaced with a 3-storey block housing five flats. Up to then the size of the new blocks was relatively small but in 1966 a much grander development was to herald in a new era. No. 13 was demolished and Scoresdale, a 3-storey block of 20 flats then occupying the site.

This was followed two years later by the even more impressive 5-story block of 42 flats called Ravensroost on the site of Nos. 25-29. Nos. 15-21 was also demolished in 1976 and two blocks of flats, Blenheim Court (17) and Windsor Court (19), each with 26 flats, took their place. No. 23 Oaklands was pulled down in 1978 and replaced with a 3-story building with 7 flats and the same name, but after a 12 year break it was not until 1990 that No. 31 was demolished and a new building of 12 flats going up in its stead. Not only did the landscape change dramatically but the number of people living in that part of the road. In the 1881 Census this stretch of road had 98 adults living along it; over a hundred and ten years later the figure had gone up to 201!

The Council policy of not allowing building close to the road is illustrated on both sides but particularly between Upper Beulah Hill and Convent Hill. On the north side starting at Upper Beulah Hill, Nos. 6 and 8 were pulled down in 1977 when Freethorpe Close was laid out; further along Nos. 14-36 had been demolished two years earlier when the houses of Ravensdale Gardens were built. No. 38 on the west corner of Harold Road to No. 52 were all taken down for the Ellery Road development in 1978, and in 1982, Nos. 56 and 58 were pulled down for a new cul-de-sac, Elizabeth Way. Nos. 90-110 between Hermitage Road and Convent Hill were demolished for the Founders Gardens Estate and also a pair of houses (96, 98) on the road in 1970 and in 1972 for the Wedgewood Way Estate. On the south side of the road, No.47 on the east corner of Spurgeon Road was demolished when Tropicana at the end of that road went up also in 1972. A little way on, Nos. 53-61 had been pulled down when the Menlo Gardens Estate was built in 1970 three years after Nos. 63-69 had already disappeared in 1967 for the adjoining Priory Crescent development. In 1977 No. 311 was demolished to make way for one 2-storey and one 3-storey block of 16 flats known as The Pines (311). The two properties between Norbury Hill and Gibsons Hill (Nos. 355 and 357) had been the first to go in the road in 1969 when Hollman Gardens and Leafield Close were laid out and it was about this time that No.416 was also pulled down to make way for a GPO Telegraph Office.

Besides these large changes there were several cases where buildings were converted into flats like No.80 which in 1974 was converted into eight flats and named Piper s Court. Similarly in 1976 the pair of houses, Nos. 9 and 11 became Cintra House with eleven flats, 1-7 and 8-11. In 1984 No. 82 was converted into three flats and named Appleby Lodge and Nos. 405 and 407 demolished and replaced with a 4-storey block of 14 flats called Forum Court, which in 2005 was renamed Glencar Court after an early name for No. 405. 1988 saw No.1 being converted into a dentist s and ten flats. Two years later in 1990, No. 31 which had been converted into 12 flats in 1949, but demolished at the end of the 60s, was rebuilt with 12 purpose-built flats. In 1996 No.54 was converted into eight flats and a detached building, Nos. 54a and b, was erected in the grounds. In 2004, No. 35 was pulled down and replaced with a larger block of 10 flats and in 2006 Nos. 307 and 309 were pulled down with three 3-storey blocks of flats – 1-12, 13-23 and 24-37 taking their place.

After the war there were a few examples of new houses being built such as in 1958 when No.214 was pulled down and three staggered semi-detached houses, Nos. 206-216, built in its place. A caretaker s house (359) for St Joseph’s College was also built in 1984.

In the new century two new types of development began to make their appearance: either the squeezing of a narrow access road in between existing houses and developing the land behind as in the case of Rossiter Close between Nos. 291 and 293 in 2008, or as in 2009, the knocking down of a few houses (Nos. 66-70) and replacing them with four new ones (66.66a.68 and 68a), but with a short cul-de-sac, Stonebridge Mews leading out of the road with No.70 becoming a 3-storey block of 9 flats. In 2008 the Telegraph Office (316) was demolished and a 4-storey block of nine flats used the site.

Today Beulah Hill is very much a story of ‘the glory that was Greece’ with just a few Victorian houses like Nos. 1-11 at the southern end and St Valery (54) standing alone on the north side as a reminder of what had been – a sad epitaph to the road in its heyday. Re-development of Beulah Hill continues with blocks of flats, care homes and the like being built on the sites of demolished houses or narrow strips of land close to the road which had been previously blocked from development by Croydon council.

Social History
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Street Directories
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