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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 horse-drawn railway, which later developed into an important means of transport - facilitating Croydon's growth as a commuter town for the City of London and beyond.

In the early 20th century Croydon was an important industrial area, known for metal working, car manufacture and its airport. In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced with retailing and service economy, brought about as a result of a massive redevelopment of office blocks and the Whitgift shopping centre. Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965. Road traffic is now diverted away from a largely pedestrianised town centre, but its main railway station, East Croydon, is still a major hub within the national railway transport system. The town is expected to have its urban planning changed as part of Croydon Vision 2020.

 

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