Croydon is a large town in South London, England, the principal settlement of the London Borough of Croydon. It is located 9.5 miles (15.3 km) south of Charing Cross. The town is expected to see changes as part of Croydon Vision 2020, an urban planning initiative. Croydon is now one of the largest commercial districts outside of Central London, bearing one of the largest shopping districts, a developed night-time economy. It is identified in the London Plan as one of 11 metropolitan centres in Greater London. It has a population of 52,104 in the 2011 census, comprising the Addiscombe, Broad Green and Fairfield wards.
Historically a part of Surrey, at the time of the Norman conquest of England, Croydon had a church, a mill, and around 365 inhabitants, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Croydon expanded during the Middle Ages as a market town and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing. The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was the world’s first public railway. Later nineteenth century railway building facilitated Croydon’s growth as a commuter town for London (including the City of London). By the early 20th century, Croydon was an important industrial area, known for car manufacture, metal working and its airport. In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced by retailing and the service economy, brought about by massive redevelopment which saw the rise of office blocks and the Whitgift shopping centre. Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.
Croydon lies on a transport corridor between central London and the south coast of England, to the north of two gaps in the North Downs, one followed by the A23 Brighton Road through Purley and Merstham and the main railway line and the other by the A22 from Purley to the M25 Godstone interchange. Road traffic is now diverted away from a largely pedestrianised town centre, and its main railway station, East Croydon, is a major hub of the national railway transport system, with frequent fast services to central London among other destinations. The town is unique in Greater London for its Tramlink light rail transport system.