Old Images of Purley, London

Categorised as Greater London
Old postcard of Foxley Lane and Plough Lane in Purley London 1907

Glimpse history through old images of Purley, London.

A deed from around the year 1200 records the abbot of St. Peter’s monastery near Winchester transferring land to William de Pirelea, son of Osbert de Pirelea. The Anglo Saxon word pir meant pear, and leá meant a clearing or a place, so we assume there was a wood or clearing here where pear trees grew.

The village of Purley became part of Surrey in 1894, and grew rapidly in the years between the first and second world wars. Following the major Local Government Reforms of the 1960s, it was made part of Greater London in 1965. By 2011, the area’s population reached almost 15,000 people.


Purley Ice Rink

On 19th December 1940, a big performance was put on to mark the opening of the ice rink for the use of Canadian troops stationed in London during the Second World War.

Purley Ice Rink Opened For Canadians – British Movietone on YouTube


Cycle Polo 1958

Members of the Queen Mary Boy’s Club in South London were filmed in 1958 enjoying a game of cycle polo on a sports pitch in Purley. 

The Bicycle Polo Association of Great Britain (BPA) was founded in 1897.

You can see some local buildings around the edge of the sports field, as well as some big chimneys.

Cycle Polo (1958) – British Pathé on YouTube


Historic Book

Extract from: “Rivers of Great Britain – The Thames, from Source to Sea; Descriptive, Historical, Pictorial”, published by Cassell

Published in 1891

Pages 93-94

“Mapledurham Church is near the manor – house , from whose grounds access is obtained to the churchyard by a pair of huge old – fashioned iron gates . It is a restored church , the south aisle of which is claimed by the Blount family as a private mortuary chapel .

Purley is a small rustic Berkshire village , standing back half a mile from the river . The church , however , is nearer , and the ancient tower bears a scutcheon with the arms of the Bolingbroke family , and dated 1626 .

A horse – ferry below Mapledurham conveys the pedestrian to the Oxford side , where , for less than half a mile , the tow – path continues . The ferryman is not always to be found , and the pedestrian , stopped by the iron railing , had better follow the footpath skirting the beautiful park at Purley .

Backward glimpses may thus be indulged in of the mill , church , and manor – house , with a breadth of fertile meadow intervening ; and , walking up the steep road towards Belleisle House , the temporary desertion of the river will be amply repaid by the extensive general view of the Thames Valley which has just been traversed .

Purley Hall , built by South – Sea Bubble Law , was the residence of Warren Hastings during his trial .

For the boating – man , the river makes no exceptional demand upon his strength or imagination for several miles . The divergence by land , as above suggested , brings you presently to the ” Roebuck , ” where a second ferry within the half mile assigns the tow – path once again to the Berkshire shore .

The old – fashioned boating – tavern has not been demolished , but perched upon the hill above the Caversham Reach a more modern hotel tempts the oarsman to pause and refresh , and the holiday – maker to look out upon the remarkable map of river and landscape for which the situation is celebrated .

The thatched roof , ancient kitchen , and tap of the original wayside inn are left standing – an eloquent contrast by the side of its successor .

The Thames between Purley and the eelbucks at Chasey Farm is studded with a variety of islands . They are at their best but small and tiny , bearing a few trees , or a crop of osiers , or amounting to nothing more important than a bed of rushes.

Insignificant , however , though they may be , they preserve the character of the river , breaking as they do the monotony of the current , which , in the more level tract now watered by the Thames , shows an increasing tendency to the commonplace .

The conclusion will be irresistibly forced upon us that we have at length , with reluctance , parted from the beautiful section which includes Streatley and Goring, Pangbourne and Whitchurch , Hardwicke and Mapledurham – scenic pearls of price lying within a convenient range of not more than seven miles.”

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