West Croydon Crossing

From the bar maid's bedroom in the The Railway Bell Hotel
Click on picture [57] for an enlarged version
From the bar maid's bedroom in the The Railway Bell Hotel
Click on picture [56] for an enlarged version

From: "Dick Gilbert" <skyline@enterprise.net>

As an old Croydon resident I remember the trolleybuses fondly. One of your pictures looks very similar to that on the front of "Croydon's Trolleybuses" [Middleton Press] which is credited to Terry Russell. Were you sharing a camera [and a pint!] in the "The Railway Tavern" that day?

Notes by David Bradley
with additional material from "Ken Glazier"

Yes, I was with Terry Russell at the time. Discussing possible shots, it was obvious that a good vantage point would be from one of the first floor windows of the public house.

We entered into the "The Railway Bell Hotel", with no thought of alcohol, and simply asked if we could take some photographs from one of the upper floor windows. The barmaid said it was her bedroom, but we were more than welcome to go up there! The pictures taken on that day in 1959 are probably the only ones ever taken from this vantage point. Unfortunately my pictures are blighted by the foreground traction wire support pole, not noticed at the time because, well that's another story.

This location is quite unique, for in the 1940s it was the only place in London where all forms of surface transport could have photographed; trams, trolleybuses, Central Buses, Country Buses, Green Line coaches, steam freight and electric suburban trains. The only thing unseen would have been the Underground.

From: "Graham Feakins" <graham_feakins@elfindale.demon.co.uk>

You and Terry were clearly not drinking people.

That pub with the barmaid's room was never the "The Railway Tavern". Until its conversion to "The Arkright's Wheel", it was "The Railway Bell Hotel", the stone bell of which can still be seen above, along with the inscription. As I know the Guvnor, I should think highly possible that I could take a similar view now, if the window still opens. Was it the first or second floor, do you remember? It looks as though it might have been the first floor.

[I wish I had the time to put up a website but at least I have started scanning my slides, many German ones of trams and trolleybuses are on the site of Peter Bosbach and the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. Go to: http://www.schwebebahn-wtal.de/

Peter surprisingly put my views of Bournemouth on the following Scottish tram site! There again, he set up the site for them. http://www.stts-glasgow.co.uk/].

Notes continue by David Bradley

West Croydon Crossing on 24 July 1948
Click on picture for an enlarged version

Glad to put the record straight Graham, and will look forward to seeing a 21st century picture from the first floor bedroom widow!

Sticking with this location, I had often wondered if a picture had ever been taken of both a tram and trolleybus had caught on camera here and early in 2006 one was found in the London Trolleybus Preservation Society photographic collection; what is more rumours existed that there was even another picture meeting the same criteria! The one shown here was taken on 24 July 1948 before the site had been redeveloped with the present building now on this corner.

This picture is complemented by two more tram pictures at the this same road junction taker during the last year of tram operation in April 1951 by David Simpson.

Croydon Tram #380 on the West Croydon Junction   Feltham Car 2133 on the West Croydon Junction
Car 380 on local Croydon tram route #42
Reproduced by permission. © David Simpson
Click on picture [731] for an enlarged version
Model of tramcar 380 built by Terry Russell
  Feltham Car 2133 to terminate short at Croydon
More information given below
Reproduced by permission. © David Simpson
Click on picture [732] for an enlarged version

Trams trundling across the West Croydon "Crossing" into North End. The destination of the Feltham indicates a short working to Combe Road, Croydon rather than its normal destination of Purley. Tram services in Croydon ceased that month and it is to be another half century before trams are seen at this spot again. As for 2133, it is sold to Leeds Corporation for another lease of life and becomes No 582 in their fleet but it was not to be until five years later that it actually entered into public service once more, on 31 July 1956. It was the very last Feltham to have a second lease of life.

The 16/18 timetable of 1951 shows it was a twenty-two minute ride to Purley from here with the service interval every ten minutes from five in the morning, right round until well past two in the morning the following day. Now that's what I call a public service! In contrast, the local 42 tram route ceased just after mid-night, obviously few people went on the town from Thornton Heath in those days.

 The West Croydon Crossing with a Trolleybus 66 emerging from Station Road
Click on picture [525] for an enlarged version
 The West Croydon Crossing with a tram about to enter Station Road
Click on picture [1064] for an enlarged version

The trolleybus overhead seen in all the pictures on this page was part of less than a mile of shared overhead between routes 630 and 654. The frequency of tram and trolleybus services should have created a photographic opportunity to have both types of vehicle in view at this junction at the same time, but as mentioned above no such picture appears to exist. In 1959 when I was taking pictures of the trolleybuses, local tram routes 16/18 and 42 had been withdrawn some 8 years previously, otherwise I might have captured such a scene. Still I have photographed both modes of transport from the same spot, but spanned by four decades.

Picture 525 was taken in early 1959 and was originally discarded for inclusion on this WEB site but the negative has been recovered from the cutting room floor as it shows a piece of social history of this bustling part of West Croydon, the gateway into North End for the town's major shopping centre. Quite surprisingly the trolleybus is seen to be empty, probably having off loading its passengers, from the Crystal Palace leg of the route, at the previous stop in Station Road - maybe those very people you see in the picture.

Forty-two years later I return to the same spot to capture a Tramlink vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. It has a full compliment of passengers ready to be discharged at the next stop for their shopping expedition into Croydon. [The fast food prices on the side of the tram may be of interest in years to come].

Sadly I don't have the camera angle quite the same as the upper picture but it can be observed that the two fashion shops have long gone, replaced by an up market coffee emporium whose neighbours is now a camera retailer. Interestingly it was cheaper to buy a disposable camera than have two cups of coffee. In trolleybus days I struggled to afford the black and white film; now I can hardly afford a cup of coffee! Welcome to the 21st century.

Ground Level, outside the The Railway Bell Hotel

Here is a collection of rare pictures with one taken on the morning of 16 June 1999 when car 2535 was on its first powered run through Croydon on the newly constructed Croydon Tramlink system.

It was so early, that access to the upper floors of the "The Railway Bell Hotel" [now renamed as "Arkwrights Wheel"] was not possible!

The other two pictures were taken from the opposite direction.

Click on picture for an enlarged version
1907 view of SMET tram 49 outside the The Railway Bell Hotel 1st test run through West Croydon
Click on picture for more detailed background information Click on picture for an enlarged version

The left hand picture is reproduced by kind permission of the Webmaster, John Prentice, of www.tramwayinfo.com and shows a 1907 postcard view of South Metropolitan Electric Tramways tram 49 at the West Croydon terminus of the Sutton route. Trolleybus route 654 ultimately, until March 1959, serviced the same destination.

 Road layout at West Croydon Some parts of Croydon have changed beyond recognition over the years and none more so than this area. Trams may once more pass the Barmaid's bedroom window of the public house overlooking the junction but freedom of use for private transport is now very much restricted.

The road layout markings observed in 2002 [seen in the adjacent drawing] is very different from the free for all movements possible just 10 years ago. Tamworth Road is now only a through road in both directions for public transport and North End, from Popular Walk to Crown Hill, is now pedestrianised. Current redevelopment of this area to encourage new inward investment to achieve a comprehensive, high quality, high-density mixed-use redevelopment with a co-ordinated approach to enhancing the existing rail, tram, bus and taxi facilities will change the landscape once more.
More Details of the West Croydon Regeneration Objectives.

Go back into the 19th century and from the same location you would have seen the Croydon Canal, the Croydon Canal Tramroad and even a little of the Surrey Iron Railway. There is a conjectural map of the area that shows all this in the 2001 publication titled "Croydon's Transport" published by the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society - as Figure #31.

From: "David Simpson" <philobus@hotmail.com>

Just to let you know I'm still pop in to see your remarkable site from time to time! I'm also still "saving" for [or praying for] a scanner that will reliably accept old-age negatives so that I can start producing prints/jpeg files from my collection of photographs. Recently I have found that local photo-processing shops can't handle anything but 35mm, so the situation is becoming somewhat alarming! Anyone with info/ideas on scanners for various size negatives?

Nice to see that my dear old Feltham 2133 is still churning across the West Croydon crossing. Smart of you to have noticed the CROYDON destination. Did some of the 16/18's turn short - at Coombe Road?