The Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre, with the Village Green and Water Pump shown in the foreground
|Population||44,905 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference||TQ385735|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Catford is a district in south east London, England, and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Lewisham. It is southwest of Lewisham itself, mostly in the Rushey Green and Catford South wards. The population of Catford, including the Bellingham, London neighbourhood, was 44,905 as of 2011.
The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
The origin of the name is unknown. Speculation suggests it may derive from the place where cattle crossed the river Ravensbourne in Anglo-Saxon times or from wild cats using the river crossing.
Catford covers most of SE6 postcode district. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
Catford is covered by the Rushey Green and Catford South wards in the London Borough of Lewisham. It also makes up a large part of the Lewisham East constituency.
Broadway Theatre is an art deco building adjoining the town hall. It is a curved stone structure decorated with shields and heraldic emblems and topped with a copper-green spire. It was opened in 1932 as the Concert Hall and is now a Grade II listed building. The interior is in art deco style. The last cinema in the borough (before the 2019 launch of Catford Mews) stood diagonally opposite the theatre until its closure in 2002. Catford also boasts a large Gothic police station. In 2006, a large blue pipe sculpture was unveiled outside Eros House, which was another former cinema (The Eros Cinema), and the Lewisham Hippodrome theatre.
The 1960s and 70s had a considerable impact on the architecture of Catford. The old Town Hall of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968, soon after the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford. Laurence House, where many of the Lewisham Council functions are housed including the offices of the Mayor of Lewisham and the Young Mayors of Lewisham, is on the site of old St Laurence's Church. The original Gothic C of E St. Laurence Church was located where Laurence House is today (known as the Catford Cathedral), but as part of the urban renewal of Catford in the 1960s, the church is now housed in a more modern style building 200 metres down Bromley Road.
In Rushey Green the old village water hand-pump from the 1850s survives.
At the end of World War II, the 186-bungalow Excalibur Estate was laid out in Catford, and by 2011 was the largest surviving prefab estate in Britain. However, in spite of the opposition of many residents, all are due for demolition, apart from six with Grade II listing. A new estate on the site is due for completion by the end of 2023.
A few examples of Brutalist architecture survive including the Catford shopping centre and Milford Towers, designed by the architect Owen Luder in 1974. The design was to make it the Barbican of the south.
Architecture critic Ian Nairn praised Eros House (Owen Luder, 1962) as:
A monster sat down in Catford and just what the place needed. No offence meant: this southward extension of Lewisham High Street badly wanted stiffening. Now there is a punchy concrete focus ('you know, that funny new building') both close to and at a distance, from the desolate heights of the Downham Estate, where it stands straight to the afternoon sun. Rough concrete is put through all its paces, front convex eaves on Sainsbury's to a staircase tower which is either afflicted with an astounding set of visual distortions or is actually leaning. Again, no offence meant. Unlike many other avant-garde buildings, particularly in the universities, this one is done from real conviction, not from a desire for self-advertisement. The gaunt honesty of those projecting concrete frames carrying boxed-out bow windows persists. It is not done at you and it transforms the surroundings instead of despising them. This most craggy and uncompromising of London buildings turns out to be full of firm gentleness.
In 2015 Lewisham Council decided to demolish Milford Towers, as the housing estate was in disrepair and the land could be better used to meet the needs of local residents. In 2018 the estate was however refurbished, with demolition still planned in the longer-term.
Catford's most prominent landmark is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford centre. There is also a street market on Catford Broadway.
Between 1932 and 2003, Catford Stadium was a successful greyhound racing track, but was closed and then destroyed by fire in 2005 and ultimately demolished to make way for new housing.
Catford's oldest pub is the Black Horse and Harrow (now named The Ninth Life). The Catford Bridge Tavern is another heritage listed building close to the old dog track; this mock tudor pub burnt down in March 2015, but has since been refurbished and reopened in April 2017. Nearby, is St Dunstan's College.
The area was once home to the Catford Studios, producing films during the silent era. Catford also used to have a cinema diametric to the theatre. Catford was also satirised in The Chap magazine in a series called 'A Year in Catford' named after Peter Mayle's best-seller A Year in Provence. The magazine poked fun at Catford's mundanity.
Catford town centre is a priority area for regeneration in the London Borough of Lewisham. Several key sites around the town centre have been identified for redevelopment – Milford Towers, Catford Island, The Civic Centre, Lewisham Town Hall and The "Wickes" site have all been highlighted for significant change in the proposed Catford Plan.
The council's aspiration is for the complete redevelopment of the Catford Shopping Centre and Milford Towers, which would require demolition of both plus the car parks and associated buildings along Thomas Lane. However, attempts to regenerate Catford have been hampered by various complex issues such as finance and the number of different landowners in and around the town centre.
Catford is served by two railway stations, Catford and Catford Bridge. Catford provides the area with Thameslink services to Kentish Town, London Blackfriars, Orpington via Bromley South and to Sevenoaks via Bromley South and Swanley. Catford Bridge is served by Southeastern services to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street via Lewisham and to Hayes.
Catford is served by many Transport for London bus routes.
Catford's main road is the A205 South Circular which crosses South London, running from Woolwich in the east to the junction of the A406 (North Circular Road), the M4 and the A4 at Gunnersbury in the west.
There are proposals for a Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham, with a possible longer-term second phase to Catford and Hayes. As of 2022, no final decisions had been made.
Transport for London (TfL) are currently considering the extension of the Docklands Light Railway from Lewisham to Bromley, with the first phase being from Lewisham to Catford. So far TfL have not expressed a preferred route, provided detailed plans, or indicated costs and funding. Lewisham Council has suggested that any route should be underground to reduce physical and visual impact.
The local council maintains Conisborough College and Greenvale School.
Catford has two independent schools, St Dunstan's College and a small faith school, Springfield Christian School.
The walk follows the River Pool downstream from the Ravensbourne River. The banking has been planted with native trees and shrubs, herbaceous planting, wild flower grassland and wetland marginal planting. The park forms part of the Waterlink Way which forms a significant section of the river from Sydenham to the Thames.
Unlike many of London's rivers, the Pool remains above ground for most of its length. The section of river flows through a linear park from Southend Lane to Catford Hill.
In the 1920s, Charlton Athletic played at The Mount (stadium) in the park. The Council holds its annual People's Day event here in July.
The park consists of three fields with a river running through them, and is next to University Hospital Lewisham. The middle field contains one of the last established rare Dutch Elm trees in London.
Iona Close Orchard is a preserved Victorian garden. In common with most old orchards, the site is of high nature conservation value. The houses to which it originally belonged dated to about 1825.
The 20-acre Jubilee Ground is operated by St Dunstan's College.
Catford Stadium was one of the greyhound racing venues in the UK until its closure and subsequent demolition in 2005. It also hosted boxing and several other sporting events.
Catford has a Non-League football club Lewisham Borough F.C. who play at the Ladywell Arena.
Kent County Cricket Club have played at Catford several times in the past.
The Catford Cycling Club was founded in 1886. In 1894 they built their own track south of Brownhill Road with a pagoda grandstand. By the 1950s the majority of the track had been built over but the club still exists.