Living in Shirley
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In addition to the local services, our Living in Shirley guide will give you a sense of what life is like in Shirley – its history, its culture and its recreational activities.
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What Is Life Like In Shirley?
Shirley is an attractive suburban area located in Croydon, London’s most populous borough. South of London and east of Croydon, Shirley is popular because of its relaxed atmosphere, fast transportation links, and family-friendly reputation. Shirley will soon also benefit from the Westfield shopping centre being built in Croydon.
The south side of Shirley is the most desirable area. Roads including Hartland Way, Shirley Way, Devonshire Way, Bennetts Way, Shirley Church Road and Upper Shirley Road are in high demand. Shirley is well-known for its reputable schools as well as being a safe and modern residential area. Its Croydon location gives it access to the borough’s lively arts, business and technology scenes.
History Of Shirley
Shirley’s history is tied to the Borough of Croydon. Croydon was formed in 1965, joining together several boroughs and districts. The area has been settled since prehistoric times, but the name Croydon comes from the 8th Century Saxons and means "the valley of the crocuses".
Croydon was recorded as having a church, a mill and around 365 residents in the Domesday Book. Croydon was mainly a market town, producing charcoal and tanned leather, until the 19th Century, when the London to Brighton rail link boosted the area’s prominence.
In the 20th Century, Croydon’s metal working and motoring industries flourished, increasing the area’s population. The area of Shirley grew in the 1930s with significant housing development. By the 1960s, Croydon was heavily commercialised and had Europe’s largest in-town shopping centre at the time. In 1965, Croydon’s borough council applied for city status. It was denied then, and again in 2000 and 2002.
The next major phase in the history of Croydon and Shirley is well underway, with the Croydon Vision 2020 regeneration plan. This plan aims to make Croydon the south London hub of retail, business and culture by investing several billion pounds into development.
Days Out In Shirley
Days out around Shirley can take you to some of the local Croydon sights, or to the wider wonders of London. In Shirley itself, visit the Shirley Windmill, one of only four windmills open to the public in Greater London. In Croydon, visit the Croydon Clocktower arts complex to see exhibitions at the Museum of Croydon and films at the David Lean Cinema or grab a bite to eat at the Clocktower Café. The historic Fairfield Halls host professional theatre and music. You can also catch a performance by the next Adele or Amy Winehouse at the famous BRIT School for performing arts.
For a peek into the future, visit Croydon’s tech city and see what the latest digital entrepreneurs and start-ups are cooking up. Drawn by the affordable office rents and the strong transport links, over 1,000 start-ups make their home here.
Things To Do In Shirley
Shirley has no shortage of things to do. Some excellent traditional restaurants include The Crown, The Shirley Inn and Cadillac Diner. For international fare, try Abra Kebabra, Rupees or Golden Inn. A wide range of shopping is only a short drive away at the Whitgift Shopping Centre.
The nearest major football team is Crystal Palace, who play in the Premier League. The local leisure centres include West Wickham Swimming Baths and The Gym at Suffolk House in Croydon. Golf lovers can also play a round at the Shirley Park Golf Club.
Local places of worship include Shirley Methodist Church, Saint John the Evangelist Shirley and the Croydon and District Synagogue. The Shirley Library is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
Schools In Shirley
Shirley and the surrounding area has several excellent schools.
Primary schools include:
- Forest Academy
- Harris Primary Academy Benson
- St John's Church of England Primary School
Secondary schools include:
- Coloma Convent Girls' School
- Edenham High School
- Oasis Academy Shirley Park
- Shirley High School
- Trinity School of John Whitgift
Transport In Shirley
Shirley is well-connected to other towns and major cities via efficient transport links.
Shirley is well served by Croydon’s train links. East Croydon station is only three miles away, with fast and frequent trains to all London terminals as well as the south coast. West Wickham train station is about a mile and a half away and has trains to London Bridge and London Charing Cross. The Tramlink light rail system runs near Shirley as well, ending at Wimbledon to the west and Beckenham to the east. It provides access to the wider Croydon borough and most of South London.
Bus And Coaches
Croydon borough is connected by many bus routes. Four in particular – the 194, 119,198 and 367 – run right through Shirley, going to Bromley or Beckenham in one direction and Croydon or Thornton Heath in the other.
Gatwick Airport is the nearest international airport, only about 20 miles away. Heathrow is also easily accessible by train or car. For private flights, London Biggin Hill Airport is only 10 miles away.
Central London is roughly an hour’s drive on the A214 or A215. Brighton is just over an hour away via the M23 and A23.