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
|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
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|
|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|
Who Built Harold Road?
Harold Road Victorian House Interior Plans
Advertisement for House Sale in Harold Road
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400 feet up and facing large recreation ground
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Illustrated folder on request to owner, or any agent
From the Norwood News April 8th
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.
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.
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:
- Street-facing gables
- Dutch gables
- London stock brick/Red brick
- Prominent decorative chimney stacks with clay pots
- Prominent recessed arched doorways
- Hardwood timber doors with glazing panels
- Feature dormer windows
- Decorative brickwork detailing including soldier courses
- Bay windows
- Timber sash frames of bespoke designs
- Stone/stucco detailing
- Stucco/terracotta decorative panels integrated into elevations
- 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.
Internal House Features in Harold Road
Significant Street Buildings
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
|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|
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
30. Harold House
32. Lucknow Residency
46. Vernon House
66. St. Aubyn’s
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
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.
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.
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?
- 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 )
- 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
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