Harold Road

Harold Road is located between Central Hill and Beulah Hill. It was developed in 1880’s when Grand Villas lined the streets. Today a number of the villas still exist however there has been infill such as in the late 1950’s when the tennis courts were built on , and in the 1960’s when one of the villas were demolished and new build took place . Even today redevelopment continues .

Maps and Land Ownership
Maps and Land Ownership

The land on which Harold Road was built was owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury who offered 100 year leases in 1881 to builders and occupiers.

1870 OS Map to show land where Harold Road properties would be built – Reproduced-with-the-permission-of-the-National-Library-of-Scotland-2-httpsmaps.nls_.ukindex.html.png

0S Map from 1894 showing location and properties built on Harold Road – Reproduced-with-the-permission-of-the-National-Library-of-Scotland-2-httpsmaps.nls_.ukindex.html.png

1915 OS Map Showing Properties Built in Harold Road – Reproduced-with-the-permission-of-the-National-Library-of-Scotland-2-httpsmaps.nls_.ukindex.html.png


Photo Harold Road – approximately 1898/99

Harold Road in the 1890s


Harold Road in the 1890s

Date Event
1880s Open fields between Beulah Hill and Central Hill owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury were developed along the new road linking the two, Harold Road was created. The road was lined with grand Victorian villas. The Archbishop of Canterbury retained the freehold and offered plots of land for building with 100-year leases.


1887 Harold Road Lawn Tennis Club established
1890 The site for the Upper Norwood Recreation Ground was acquired by the Croydon Corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and laid out as a public park. This was adjacent to Harold Road The land was drained and planted with 1600 trees and shrubs, the turf stripped and re-laid, and the land ‘fenced’ with suitable entrances.


1890 Open on the 14th May 1890, the choir of the Royal Normal college of the blind sang all creatures now are merry conducted by Dr Campbell (Source Norwood Society 1962)


1890s Mr Drown submitted plans to Croydon co-operation for number 67/69 Harold Road


1891 A magnificent granite drinking fountain and a bandstand were added to the Upper Norwood recreation ground


1901 Penelope Dora Harvey Booth Lived at 40 Harold Road and member of Harold Road Tennis Club
1908 Olympic silver medal winner
1909 Wimbledon Singles winner
1909 Mixed Doubles winner with Albert Prebble
1909 All England Badminton Mixed Doubles champion with A. Prebble
19202s/1930s Drastic solutions to keeping the Victorian villas financially viable, many of these provided accommodation for more than one family


1940 No 24 was destroyed by a bomb during WW2



Building of the street
According to Kelly’s street directory of 1884, there were then just eleven houses, each listed by a house name, rather than a number. These were Lindisfarne, Lucknow Residency, Harold House, Sylcot, Roycroft, Glenthorne, Lynchmere, Monteagle, Manton, Fairlight, and the Royal Normal College. 3

In the census return of 1891, the number of houses has expanded to 33, with development mainly on the south side of the road, and on the north between Beaulah Hill and Eversley Road. The census return for that year also shows 197 residents, including visitors, of which 56 were male and 131 female – including 65 female servants. The number of servants per household was generally either two or three, although one house accommodated 4 servants, and another, occupied by a family of four, had no servants at all. The occupation of the head of each household is shown as either professional, management or ex services, or living off own means – including three widows.

The census return of 1911 indicates that these houses had a total number of rooms varying from 8 to 14. Usually this included 8 bedrooms, kitchen, and two reception room.

Plans available for no.10, 14/20 show that these houses were built by Charles Wright, a builder himself residing in Beulah Hill. Charles Wright had started his building business in 1853 (in the cottage next to Beulah Villa), and later became a surveyor as well as a builder. Charles Wright had been responsible for building several properties in Beulah Hill4.

Harold Road does not appear in the 1881 census – the first entry appearing in the Street Directory for 1884.

The houses in Harold Road were renumbered in 1920 and again in 1963 as this chart shows:

  Existing No. Number to 14.1.1963 Number to 5.5.1920
Matthew Inglett Fortescue-Brickdale 9 1 1
Mary Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale 9 1 1
John Matthew Fortescue-Brickdale 9 1 1
Frederick George Williams n/a 2 2
Clara Ann Heffer 11 3 3
Cecil Howard Heffer 11 3 3
Sir August Manns n/a 4 4
Elizabeth Newmarch (nee Whitwell) 13 5 5
Edward Charles and Ethel Stuart-Baker n/a 6 6
Iris Baker n/a 6 6
William Ormsby 15 7 7
Charles Stirling 19 11 11
Grote Stirling 19 11 11
Ethel  Maplress 24 24 20
Major-General Robert Patrick Anderson 36 36 32
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lawrence Anderson 36 36 32
Sir Francis Joseph Campbell 42/46 42/46 38/42
Penelope Dora Harvey Boothby 44 44 40
Francis Gaydon 58 58 54
Jill Robertson 59 59 n/a

Who Built Harold Road?

Harold Road Victorian House Interior Plans

Advertisement for House Sale in Harold Road

For Sale by Private Treaty

The massively built and expensively fitted




400 feet up and facing large recreation ground


Eight large bedrooms, drawing room, three reception rooms, linen room, fitted bathroom, large entrance hall with cloakroom and lavatory, kitchen, scullery housemaid’s pantry, etc ,etc. Large garden, ample room for garage.  Gas and electric (power and light) to all rooms, and every convenience


£2,000 or near offer

Illustrated folder on request to owner, or any agent

From the  Norwood News April 8th

Harold Road lease from Archbishop of Canterbury

Harold Road Tennis Club

The Harold Lawn Tennis Club was opened in 1887 and occupied the land bordering Orleans Road, Vermont Road and Harold Road. The grounds covered 3 acres, and included seven grass courts, a club house, and a croquet lawn – later adding four hard courts. In his memoirs (The Norwood Society – I Remember Norwood (1963)) A R Llewellin-Taylour refers to the flourishing club and the tennis parties held in the late 1800s.

Map Showing the Location of Harold Road Tennis Club

Photo Showing Norwood Lawn Tennis Players of 1896 (the Harold Road Tennis Club)

Former Harold Road Tennis Club members included:

Albert Prebble (22.10.1873-27.8.1946) who captained The English Badminton team, won the All England Badminton Men’s Doubles three times in 1904, 1907 and 1909, and also the mixed doubles with Dora Boothby in 1909. Together these two also reached the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Mixed Doubles Final.  He was also Vice President of the English Badminton Association from 1922 to 1946. In tennis he was captain of the British Davis Cup team six times;

Dora Boothby (2.8.1871- 22.2.1970) a member of the club she was also a resident at 40 Harold Road. In addition to partnering Albert Prebble, above, she was a Wimbledon Ladies Singles Champion in 1909, and runner up in 1910 and 1911, and also a Ladies Doubles winner in 1913, and a silver medallist in the 1908 London Olympics.

Photo showing Dora Boothby – member of the Harold Road Tennis Club

Harry Penn        Stepfather to Dora Boothby, and resident at 40 Harold Road. Appears with his daughter in the 1896 press photograph, above.

Cecil Harman Wigan MBE (7.6.1874-27.10.1953) was Secretary to the club in 1936, and a resident of 1 Harold Road, and then 3 Harold Road.

Edward Charles Stuart Baker (18   – 16.4.1944) was President of the Club in 1936, resident of 6 Harold Road, former Mayor of Croydon. He lost an arm whilst tackling a panther as part of his police duties in India.

The club closed in 1956, and the land was sold to developers. The properties at 47-65 Harold Road now occupy part of the site.


1 Croydon Libraries Local Studies Pack, 2nd edition May 1995

2 Harold Road by Liliam Thornhill isbn 0951271342

3 Kelly’s The Sydenham, Norwood and Streatham Streets Directory  1884

4 The Croydon Database www.cleis.org.uk/cdb-4.0/node,226


Harold Road presents houses designed with the following key architectural features:

  1. Street-facing gables
  2. Dutch gables
  3. London stock brick/Red brick
  4. Prominent decorative chimney stacks with clay pots
  5. Prominent recessed arched doorways
  6. Hardwood timber doors with glazing panels
  7. Feature dormer windows
  8. Turrets
  9. Decorative brickwork detailing including soldier courses
  10. Bay windows
  11. Timber sash frames of bespoke designs
  12. Stone/stucco detailing
  13. Stucco/terracotta decorative panels integrated into elevations
  14. Natural slate roofs


Harold Road is spacious and suburban in character.  The south-west part of the road is set around the Upper Norwood Recreational ground.  The road is wide and is distinguished by grand detached houses.  Most of these are locally listed.  The houses are positioned on narrow plots of land which gives the different sections of the roa d a sense of uniformity.  The houses in Harold Road have the deepest front gardens in the conservation area especially those facing the Upper Norwood Recreation ground.    The road is lined with mature trees and is landscaped.


Both number 14 and 48 Harold Road have distinctive turret features.

Numbers 8 and 9-21 are a group of yellow brick villas of an identical design, with double-height bay windows to the right-hand side and feature dormer windows to the left, prominent chimney stacks and decorative stucco motif panels and stucco balustrading.  Number 19 is a modern infill development following bomb damage during the Second World War.

Numbers 14-32, with the exception of the post-war infill at 24a A/B, is a striking collection of red brick Queen Anne style villas and are the impressive of the late Victorian villas in the conservation area.  Common features include deep set entrance porches, decorative chimneystacks and bespoke window designs.  Number 10 shares the same characteristics with this grouping.

Numbers 37-41 are red-brick villas of an identical design with street-facing gable and a projecting square bay window to the left, and depressed arched windows to the right at ground floor level.

Number 43 has been designed to ‘turn the corner’ with Orleans Road, and had a noticeable chimney stack, timber porch and a series of unique window features.

Numbers 34-46 are all red brick villas of a similar design with some minor variations.   All buildings have street-facing projecting gables to the right side of the front elevation and feature dormer windows on the same side at roof-level.

All buildings have arched soldier courses above ground and first floor windows and prominent chimney stacks.  All buildings have detailed timber porches in the centre of their composition.  Some buildings retain a decorative terracotta panel set within a central parapet at the roofline.  Minor alterations have spoiled the character of this group of buildings.

Numbers 48-52 share characteristic features with the numbers 34-46.  Numbers 50 and 52 have lost their original timber porches.  Number 48 has a striking tower feature that marks the corner with Bedwardine Road.  Numbers 48 and 52 have prominent arched windows with decorative key stones in the middle of the building at the first-floor level.

Numbers 54-64 are of a more simple design.  They are built of red brick with double-height bay windows.  They are made of red brick with double-height bay windows.

The group of houses at the northern end of Harold Road, close to the junction with Vermont Road has historic buildings interspersed with new development.  Numbers 67, 69 and 70 ate buildings that display some of the key features present on buildings on the rest of Harold Road, including bay windows and prominent chimney stacks.  Numbers 75-77 are a pair of Victorian houses with bay windows, projecting gables and decorative plasterwork. 

72 Harold Road ‘Quen of Sheba’ – now derelict – courtesy of Croydon Archives

18 Harold Road with depressed arches – courtesy of Croydon Archives

14 Harold Road showing tower – courtesy of Croydon Archives

Harold Road showing wooden porch – courtesy of Croydon Achives

Internal House Features in Harold Road




Significant Street Buildings

    Harold Road Tennis Club (1887)

      The Harold Lawn Tennis Club was opened in 1887 and occupied the land bordering Orleans Road, Vermont Road and Harold Road. The grounds covered 3 acres, and included seven grass courts, a club house, and a croquet lawn – later adding four hard co …

Social History
The 1891 census indicates 33 houses, of which 3 were unoccupied. There were 187 residents in occupation, of which 56 were male and 131 were female. Female residents included 65 servants.

The place of birth is usually UK- 161, 11 Ireland, 7 India, 2 USA and Germany, and one each Ceylon, New Zealand, West Indies and Prussia.

9 householders were described as living off own means, 3 barristers/solicitors, 6 Merchants, 4 Army, 2 Seamen, 3 Salesmen, 3 Clergy, 2 Civil Engineers, and one each of Medical Doctor, Insurance Underwriter, Teacher, Gardener, Retired Farmer, Accountants Clerk and Manager.

By 1901 there are 50 houses, of which just one was unoccupied. There were then 298 residents (including visitors), comprising 75 male and 223 females, of which 108 were servants. Place of birth is now 260 from UK and 5 from Ireland, 11 India, 5 USA, 4 Germany, 2 each from South Africa, Ceylon and Australia, and 1 each from China, Prussia, Chile, New Zealand, Brazil, and Italy. One further resident was born on board a ship.

The 1911 census shows 42 occupied houses, and a further 8 are unoccupied. The number of residents has reduced to just 239 (including 8 visitors). This comprised 59 Male and 180 Female – of the latter, 75 are shown as servants. The place of birth is now 215 from UK, 6 from Ireland and 4 from Isle of Man. Additionally there were 4 born in India, 5 in Spain, and one each in Gibralter, France, Canada, Germany and Phillipines.

Census returns: 1881-1911- age profile

Year 1891 1901 1911
Under 5 7 11 4
5 to 15 16 27 27
16 to 21 40 42 26
22 to 30 47 85 56
31 to 40 18 38 33
41 to 50 23 34 32
51 to 60 18 31 34
61 to 70 9 24 13
71 to 80 8 5 14
Over 80 1 1 0
Total 187 298 239

Naming ones House is an old British custom which began with the gentry naming their manors, halls, and castles. The custom gradually spread to the masses and everyday folk began naming their homes as well.  Names often changed as householders died or moved, with new residents bringing their personal or family backgrounds into play.

Properties throughout the British mainland had just house names until 1765 when an act of Parliament decreed that all new properties must also have a house number and street name for better identification of properties and boundaries.  Odd numbers are usually assigned to the left side of the street and even numbers to the right side heading out of the town centre – usually from the town hall or other civic building (Guide to House Names, 1995).

House Names in Harold Road in the 1880s

2. St Eulalie

3. Shirley

4. Gleadale

5. Mulnauth

6. Durlston

8. Minori

13. Faunmore

15. Naparima

17. Nahant

30. Harold House

32. Lucknow Residency

34. Sylcot

36. Roycroft

38. Glenthorne

40. Lynchmere

42. Monteagle

44. Lindisfarne

46. Vernon House

48. Laurieston

50. Highcroft

52. Lydbury

54. Lawnside

56. Lakhwar

58. Clydesdale

60. Langdale

62. Beauclere

64. Thornfield

66. St. Aubyn’s

68. Fairmount

Death Notices for Residents of Harold Road

Harold Road, 62 (Beauclerc)

1889 12 21 Norwood Review death notices:

PERCIVAL Dec 12 at Beauclerc, Upper Norwood, Louisa wife of C J Percival

1890 Probate:

Norwood Review Death Notice for Louisa Percival of 62 Harold Road in 1889



    Anderson, General Robert Patrick (1884 -1891)

    Lucknow Residence 32 (now 36) Harold Road 1884-1891 Hart’s Army Lists states that General R P Anderson “served in the Punjab campaign of 1848-49……(and) served in the Indian Mutiny campaign in 1857-58; commanded a most exposed outpost during the entire …

    Anderson, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lawrence (1867-1914)

    Henry was the son of Major-General Robert Anderson, and attended Dulwich College in 1882. Originally training in the Merchant Navy, he changed his career and entered Sandhurst in 1887, and was posted to Quetta, India the following year. He remained in …

    Baker, Edward Charles Stuart CIE OBE FZS FLS (1864-1944)

    6 Harold Road 1920s – 1944 Blyth’s kingfisher painted by Stuart-Baker Edward Stuart Baker was a British ornithologist and police officer. He was educated at Trinity College, Stratford-upon-Avon and in 1883 joined the Indian Police Service. He spent mos …

    Baker, Iris (1899 to 1997)

    Lived at 6 Harold Road Iris Baker – January 1997. By Bassano Ltd 6.10.1933 Copyright National Portrait Gallery Iris Baker was born in Assam, India, on 23rd May 1899, the daughter of Edward and Ethel Stuart Baker. They moved to 6 Harold Road in 1920s. I …

    Barff, Arthur (1835 – 1903)

    No. 43 “Englefield” Harold Road Arthur Barff and his family first appear at 43 Harold Road on a Street directory for 18941 and remain there certainly until the time of the 1901 census. Arthur was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1835. His father, John B …

    BOOTHBY, DORA (1881 to 1970)

    Dora Boothby (1881-1970) 40 Harold Road Penelope Dora Harvey Boothby was born in Finchley, Middlesex on August 2nd 1881.  She and her older sister Gertrude lived with their stepparents at 40 Harold Road, Upper Norwood.  It was likely that she learned t …

    Bunbury, John Shirley (1923-1943)

    Resident 32 Harold Road Flight Officer John Shirley Bunbury was reported missing while flying a Lancaster on a mission with No. 50 Squadron. The operation flew from RAF Swinderbury, Lincoolshire on 17th August with 139 aircraft to bomb Osnabruck. The L …

    Campbell, Sir Francis Joseph (1832 – 1914)

    (Shown as residing at  Harold Road 38 and 42 Harold Road (now 42 and 46) Wards Street Directory 1900),was an  American anti-slavery campaigner, teacher and also the co-founder of the Royal National College for the Blind UK He was born near Winchester, …

    Cree, Elizabeth (1834 to 1913 ) and Catherine (1838 to 1925)

    43 Harold Road The 1911 Uk Census1 indicates No 43 Harold Road to have been occupied by Miss Elizabeth (Buchanan)  Cree (aged 77) (Head of household) and her sister Catherine Cree (aged 73), also Augusta Liche, a domestic parlourmaid, aged 33 (born in …

    Edith Mary MORGAN (1897 –

    10 Harold Road Edith was born  15 May 1897 in Littlebourne, Kent daughter of Henry Morgan ( Farm Bailiff) and Jane Young. At the time of her marriage, Edith was living at 22 Upton Road, Thornton Heath. In 1911 the Census shows Edith living at The Ponds …

    Fortescue-Brickdale, Matthew Inglett (1817-1894)

    Matthew Brickdale had been living at Birchamp Villa1, Upper Norwood, but in 1889 his family are living at 1 Harold Road (later renumbered 9 Harold Road), then aged 71. He had practised as a Barrister, having been admitted to Lincoln’s Inn. According to …

    Fortescue-Brickdale,John Matthew, M.A., M.D.Oxon., M.R.C.P.LOND.,(1870-1921)

    Lived at 1 Harold Road in 1891 Physician, Bristol Royal Infirmary. Obituary British Medical Journal 18.6.1921: The death of Dr. Fortescue-Brickdale at the early age of 51 has deprived the profession in Bristol of a physician who combined a scientific k …


    Mary Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (25.1.1872-10.3.1945) Matthew’s daughter, Mary Eleanor Forestcue-Brickdale (born 25.1.1872) trained as an artist at Crystal Palace School of Art, under Herbert Bone, and entered the Royal Academy in 1896. Her first majo …

    Gaydon, Francis (1832 to 1916)

    54 (now 58) Harold Road 1905-1911 Francis Gaydon was born in 1832 and trained as a watchmaker in Barnstaple.  He moved to Norwood aged 30 and began his Jewellery and Silversmith business which expanded to include numbers 16-20 Westow Street, its date o …

    Gertrude Annie CROUCH (1900 – 1931)

    10 Harold Road Gertrude was a servant occupying 10 Harold Road at the time of the 1921 Census. She is shown then aged 21, born in Weyhill, Hants, and employed as a Parlourmaid. Her father Harry CROUCH had been a soldier. The 1911 Census shows a Gertrud …

    Heffer, Clara Ann (1832- 1911)

    Living at 3 (now 11) Harold Road 1891 Extract from Bedales School www.bedales.org.uk Clara Ann Heffer (nee Cooke) was the widow of Henry Heffer, who had been a “Coachmaker employing 152 men” (according to 1861 census). Previously they had been living i …

    Sir August Manns

    Manns, Sir August (1825-1907)

    Sir August Manns – 4 Harold Road (since demolished)  Extract from Norwood Society magazine volume 190: As Musical Director of the Crystal Palace from 1855 to 1901, August Manns made two very important contributions to English music. The Dictionary of N …

    Mapiress, Ethel (1884-1941)

    Residing at 24 Harold Road on 8.3.1941 Killed by enemy action on 8th March 1941 ‘… March 8-9th had incidents from seventeen H.E bombs which did damage again to the areas round the “Black Horse” at Addiscombe Road, demolishing several houses in Black Ho …

    Newmarch, Elizabeth (1818-1897)

    Elizabeth Newmarch (nee Whitwell), is shown as living at 5 Harold Road according to the 1891 Census, until she died . Born in York, she married William Newmarch in York on 14 September 1942. William Newmarch (born Thirsk, Yorkshire, 28 January 1920) wa …

    Ormsby, William (1810-1905)

    According the 1891 Census, William Ormsby is living at 7 (now 15) Harold Road, with his wife, Anne, two daughters, and two sons. There were also 3 servants residing there. William was born in Westmeath, County Wexford, Ireland, and his wife was born in …

    Percy Henry TURLEY (1900 – 1983)

    10 Harold Road Percy, husband of Gertrude, was the son of Percy Weston TURLEY and Louisa ). At the time of his marriage, Percy H was living at 41 Westow Street, Upper Norwood – employed by his father’s business as a Greengrocer. Percy H had served as a …

    Percy Weston TURLEY (187 – 1934)

    10 Harold Road Percy Weston TURLEY (born 14 May 1874, Battle, Sussex –  died 23 February 1934 Upper Norwood) Percy W was born in Battle, Sussex to John Turley (a farmer) and Sarah A Turley. Percy W had been employed by Messrs. F J Smith in a florists s …

    Priestley, Maud (21.11.1882 – )

    Maud Priestley (born 21.11.1882)4 Lived at 43 Harold Road Maud Priestley was the domestic cook at 43 Harold Road according to the 1911 Census1.. Her place of birth is given as Lambeth, London. The 1901 Census2 shows Maud Priestley (17) living with her …

    Seaverns, Joel (1860 to 1923)

    Lived at 8a (later numbered 20) Harold Road Joel Herbert Seaverns (13 November 1860 – 11 November 1923) was an American businessman who spent much of his life in the United Kingdom where he was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP).[1][2] He was th …

    Charles Stirling

    Stirling, Charles (1831–1915) Selina Matilda (nee Grote) (1837-1906)

    Lived at 11 Harold Road in 1891 Charles Stirling is living at 11 Harold Road in 1891, together with his wife Selina Matilda, son Grote (aged 15), daughters Marion (aged 26) and Isabelle (aged 19). They have two servants, Mary Gibbings and Jane Evitts. …

    Stirling, Grote (1875 -1953)

    Living at 11 Harold Road in 1891 (now 19 Harold Road) Grote was born in Tunbridge Wells. He was living with his parents (above) at 11 Harold Road in 1891. His unusual first name appears to have been his mother’s maiden name. Grote (aged 15 in 1891 cens …

100 years of Harold Road – Published 1975 in the ‘Norwood Review’

The house on the corner of Harold Road and Beulah Hill bore on its walls the date 1875. The houses to replace it are now going up and to be occupied this year, 1975. What happened to Harold Road in the century between those two dates?

In the 1880’s and 1890’s there was great development in Harold Road carried out by that Victorian developer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. His estate kept the freeholds and the houses in the road were let on leases, all of which terminated in 1981, regardless of the date when the house was built. The first house in the road was built in 1882 on a 99-lease: my house, built in 1899, was given an 82-year lease.

As Alan Warwick tells in his delightful book, ‘The Phoenix Suburb’, there were only a few cottages between Beulah Hill and Central Hill in mid-Victorian times. What made expensive development popular in this area? The answer is transport.

Arrival of the railways

A hundred years ago, if your place of work was more than two or three miles from your home, you could only go to work by train. In this respect, Upper Norwood was exceptionally fortunate. The arrival of the Crystal Palace was followed by the arrival of the railways, all anxious to share in the Palace traffic. This was considerable, as is shown by the size of both High and Low Level stations. From these stations you could travel to the City or West End. A great attraction of the district, which made it famous, was that it lay over 300 feet up, well above the foul air and fog which was the curse of Victorian London. My neighbour, Mr Gibbs, of 22 Harold Road, told me in 1940 that he had held for 61 years a season ticket from the High Level station: he was the last survivor of an era.

The size of the houses built in Harold Road showed that they were meant for affluent occupiers – mostly City Gentlemen: in other words, Harold Road was a Victorian stockbrokers’ belt. The houses had three storeys. The top storey would be for the staff, as each house would have three or four servants; even we, poor as we were, had three before the War. There be three commodious reception rooms on the ground floor and the family would sleep on the first floor.

Open and rural

In 1922, when we married, my wife and I took a flat in Cintra Park. In our weekend walks, we frequently visited Harold Road and its surroundings. The neighbourhood was still delightfully open and rural. The west side of Highfield Hill had only two houses: the rest of that side was taken by the gardens of the huge houses in Beulah Hill. Eversley Road had four houses at the Harold Road end. The rest was a field to which, every morning, a herd of lovely black Kerry cows would come to graze from a dairy in Gipsy Hill.

Our baby daughter, placed in a high chair in the corner window, would wait for those cows. Excitedly she would greet their arrival by banging hard with a large spoon, as they turned slowly and majestically into Eversley Road to spend the day.

Between Hermitage Road, which had only about three houses, and Queen Mary Road there were only market gardens. The Government regarded the area as undeveloped: in 1928 they produced a plan under an old Act, scheduling Harold Road and its surroundings for four houses to the acre! little did they know what was coming.

A house is bought

My wife and I loved Harold Road, but were such larges houses for the likes of us? Then, in 1930 came the terrible slump and property, as at present, was unsaleable. No. 14 Harold Road was put up to auction, but did not reach the reserve. We were tempted and bought in October, 1930. We were foolish – it was the great folly of our lives. But as we grew older we felt that we were handsomely recompensed.

In 1930, the houses in Harold Road were spick and span. Every Spring the painters would appear in the Road. The gardens were trim and well kept. But the occupants of the houses were mostly elderly. When the householder died, his children would try, in vain, to sell the house. In the ‘thirties, large houses were a drug on the market; so houses fell vacant and remained vacant. We had arrived in Harold Road at the end of the Victorian era.

The War and after

The War came. In 1940, we organised a fire-watching squad. The empty houses worried us. They had no water supply and were a serious fire and bomb hazard. We could not get the keys; so one Sunday morning we had an exercise and broke into all of them; thus we knew how to get into them. The one house which was destroyed by a bomb, No. 24, was unfortunately occupied and there were casualties.

When the War ended, the situation changed completely. Here were numerous large empty houses at a time when accommodation was desperately short. In 1945, there would be about 36 years of the leases unexpired. Speculators appeared, bought these leases cheap, installed a few fittings and let the houses off into multi-occupation. Six families lived where there had been one before.

So many of these large and solid houses took the road to dereliction. Parts of the road degenerated into a slum, which was very apparent in the gardens, which were totally neglected.

In 1952 the Church Commissioners started selling off the freeholds. Owner-occupiers could buy them, if they had more than 30 years to run. The rest were sold en masse to Messrs. Wates, who have carried out various developments in Upper Norwood.

And today…

Messrs. Wates are now busy developing the area between Beulah Hill, Harold road and Highfeld Hill. They will sell the 170 dwellings to Croydon Borough Council. Meanwhile the rest of Harold Road has been declared a Conservation Area. That is a purely negative policy and is of little value. In these days of inflation, the cost of maintaining the beautiful houses facing the Recreation Ground has become crushing. How you ‘conserve’ an insupportable burden?

So, in a period of a century, we have seen Harold Road change from green fields to solid middle-class mansions, many which became derelict slums and are now being replaced by a large council estate. In all this, Harold Road is a microcosm of national change. But we still have many glorious trees. The heart of the land between Beulah Hill and Central Hill is safe in the 17 acres of the Recreation Ground. We still can claim that our road, 300 feet up, with its lovely views, is outstanding and we love living in it.

  1. Kelf-Cohen

Interview with Jill Robertson 59 Harold Road April 24th @3pm, 2019

1.When did Jill come to Harold Road?

Jill brought her house in Harold Road when newly built in 1959, she was born in 1936 and lived in Central Hill, Chevening Road, Eversley Road and then Harold Road

2.What were her recollections of Harold Road when growing up in the area?

  1. Harold was not a through road like today, it had the Victorian Big Houses and was more like a private road with no traffic and there was a private Tennis Club situated on the houses that exist between Harold Road (no 65- 47) and Orleans road. It consisted of both hard courts and grass courts and no 59- 65 was where the hard courts were located. There were hedges and Lime trees (some of which still exist today) along this section of Harold Road to make the tennis club secluded. The Tennis club must have had a 100-year lease which came up for renewal in 1958 when our houses were built. Orleans Road houses was built by another company.

No 53 was where the pavilion was located and where the block of flats ( no 45) is being built on the bend the section nearest Orleans road, was where the entrance to the Tennis courts were located. (Jill drew a sketch of the area which I have )

  1. The recreation ground had long grass and had cows located at the Rec to eat the grass , these must have come from the diary that was based in Gipsy Hill, you can still see the arch today. Jill’s mother lived on Beulah Hill and told Jill that she used to go and play tennis in the garden of one of the big houses opposite the Rec.

3.What were your recollections of the houses opposite no 58- 64 when you moved to Harold Road in 1959?   

No 58: Mr and Mrs Ashplant lived there had no children and sold it to Mrs Khan (Probably didn’t like the change to the area and losing the tennis courts re view from their house) The front of the house re balcony is an original feature and still exists today.

No 60: Miss Wray lived by herself in No 60 since the 1940’s and the balcony used to exist but when the house became taken over by a housing association it was taken down. Jill used to go and see Miss Wray, and Jill’s two daughters used to like going into the house to look at the toilet bowl with the willow patterned bowl as they were fascinated by this!

No 62 Mr George Allard and two girls lived there for a number of years, retired and church people who went St Aubyn’s Church

No 64 Doctor Barber a big noise in Crystal Palace and Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, lived with his wife and part of the house was Doctors Surgery. They had a maid Lily Grainger she was famous in the Road, black curly hair and always chatting to people. His wife was also friendly. Dr Barber was revered and the Head doctor of the Upper Norwood Practice, at that time surgeries were in the houses such as Doctor Casey opposite All saints Church, at that time would call  the Doctor and he would come to you. When Dr Barber had his meetings to attend as a lord Lieutenant he would dress up in his finery and when he came out of the houses Lily would hold his umbrella for him.

Donald MacLeod remembers

I discovered in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 7.1.1920, a report of a court case concerning a police constable, based at Gipsy Hill, who was accused of housebreaking. On 1st January (1920?) “Police Constable Frank Bodimeade broke into 2a Harold Road, then occupied by Samuel Stephen, newspaper proprietor, and stole property worth £75.

I have confirmed that a Samuel Stephens was occupying that property according to Ward’s Directory 1920 and 1925. (It would now be number 14).

The name Samuel Stephens was familiar to me. In my schooldays I had an evening job in a grocery store in Church Road. The husband of the owner was a manager at Samuel Stephens Ltd, printers to the Norwood News group. They occupied a building at the top of Belvedere Road, and we’re certainly there in the late 60s. The building was known as News Buildings.

I believe the business was acquired eventually by Associated Press. In “Lords of Fleet Street The Harmsworth Dynasty” Routledge Library Editions(ISBN 9781317403883, 1317403886, author Richard Bourne describes .. “….Lord Barnetson’s United Newspapers group ambushed Associated into the hasty purchase of a south London printer, Samuel Stephens, which specialized in preprint colour. Barnetson said that it was the most advanced plant in the country, and he would sell to either the Standard or to Associated for the Evening news.  Quite soon it was apparent that a mistake had been made….” arrangements were then made to sell the company, which proved unsuccessful, and it had to close at considerable expense.

I have not yet established a connection between Samuel Stephen, Harold Road, and the company bearing his name – although it would seem likely.

I do recall many of the Samuel Stephens employees coming into the shop – indeed one of the printers married the daughter of the shop owner. SS had a number of employees ( they were advertising for staff in the national papers in the 60s, and I have found a report in the Norwood News of a staff outing to Southend!)



Courtesy of the Norwood News




2nd World War Casualties

John Shirley BUNBURY – Resident 32 Harold Road.  Flying Officer RAF – born Nairobi, Kenya served in 50 Squadron, Lancasters. Had carried out 36 operations over Germany before reported Missing over Osnabrook 16/17August 1943.

Edith CHANDLER – resident 40 Harold Road. Civilian, died from enemy action 12 July 1944. She was injured on the 11th July 1944 at Hawke Road and sadly passed away at Dulwich hospital, aged 72

Edith was cremated at WEST NORWOOD CREMATORIUM and her ashes scattered in the memorial gardens.

Ethel MAPLRESS – resident 24 Harold Road. Civilian, died from enemy action 8 March 1941.

John Michael UNDERWOOD- resident Harold Road, educated Kingsley College. Killed in air accident, Yatesbury,  29th September 1944. Cremated at Bath

from;”Croydon and the Second World War” – Berwick Sayers