It is unlikely that Prince Harry will be taking his fiancé Meghan Markle to see his grandmother’s gardens in Central Croydon anytime soon. But the origins of the gardens owes more to a disused railway line than any royal patronage.
Site of Central Croydon station
In the late 1800s East Croydon station, today one of the busiest non terminating stations in Southern England, was felt to be too far away from the main Croydon shopping centre. So plans were made to extend the railway line to Central Croydon and the station was built there in January 1868. Unfortunately, this branch line was short-lived and Central Croydon closed in November 1871 to become another disused railway station.
Nevertheless, the building of Croydon Central did bring the land into sole ownership and in 1889 it was decided to build Council offices, a library and a Police station on land around the old railway site. In 1895 the Borough Engineer modified these plans to include gardens at the centre.
In the late 1950s the council’s obligations could no longer be accommodated in the existing buildings, so it was decided to relocate the gardens to allow the building of new council offices in Taberner House. The new building was completed in 1968 and the architect was then tasked to join the original sunken garden as part of the Queen’s Gardens with the new garden in Taberner House, and a fountain as its centre point.
Site of the garden fountains (now filled in) with saffron farm located behind the hoardings. The Police station, brown building on far right, used to occupy part of Queen’s garden site.
The construction of the new Queen’s Garden commenced in October 1982 and was completed for the Borough Centenary celebrations. The new gardens were opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 21st June 1983.
Bernard Weatherill House th new council hq
Of course, since then the council has downsized its main central building relocating across the road to new premises at Bernard Weatherill House. Taberner House itself has been demolished and a pop up Saffron farm established until the vacant land has been redeveloped. The farm volunteers planted 20,000 crocuses and after they had flowered the remaining bulbs were given to other parks like the heathfield garden, schools and voluntary gardening projects.
Not graffiti but art encouraged by Croydon Council while vacant land is redeveloped.