London Borough of Croydon

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Croydon Town Hall and the Clocktower Arts Centre, scene of a number of events in LGBT History Month
Croydon is a town in South London, originally in Surrey. The London Borough of Croydon was formed in 1964 by uniting the County Borough of Croydon with the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District. It is the largest London Borough by population, with nearly a third of a million people. Croydon is the centre of the Tramlink network. Lunar House in Wellesley Road is the headquarters of the UK Borders Agency.

LGBT history

Archbishop John Whitgift's name is forever associated with Croydon. Havelock Ellis and Roberta Cowell were born in the town, and Georgina Somerset and Derren Brown were born in Purley. Jessie J and Sue Perkins went to school there, and D H Lawrence taught there. Hope Powell captained the Croydon team that won the FA women's cup in 1996.

There have been one or more gay or LGBT groups in the Borough since 1971.

Croydon CHE Group newsletter header Sep 1978 (Hall-Carpenter Archives CHE/7/114)

Steve Reed has been MP for Croydon North since 2012, and Mark Watson, founder of the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, is a local councillor.

In 2003 the Mayor of Croydon launched an anti-homophobia poster on the side of trams on two Tramlink routes.[1]

Cllr Wayne Trakas-Lawlor became Croydon's first openly gay mayor in 2016.[2]

General gay/LGBT groups

London Group Seven of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality was founded in 1971 but was soon renamed Croydon CHE Group. When the various CHE groups were split from the parent organisation it became Croydon Area Lesbian and Gay Society (CALGS) and subsequently Croydon Area Gay Society (CAGS).[3] It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011 with a party at a local gay venue, and a reminiscences session in a pub in central Croydon. CAGS has a variety of social events every month, an open meeting alternate months, and an active tennis group, playing every Sunday throughout the year.

Silver Rainbow, a service from CAGS in partnership with Age UK Croydon, offers a lunch club for older gay and lesbian people twice a month.[4]

CAGS sponsors the Rainbow Reading Group, together with Croydon Libraries.

Forums and Networks

The Croydon LGBT Forum, set up in 1997 (as the Croydon Lesbian and Gay Forum) operated until 2006. In 2007 it was replaced by the Croydon LGBT Network, later renamed Crocus, but Crocus was wound up in 2015.

Aurora, Croydon's LGBT Police Consultation Group, has been meeting on alternate months since 2003.

The Croydon Anti Homophobia Local Strategic Partnership and its website Croydon Anti Homophobia Action were operating around 2002.[5]

LGBT Croydon is a web portal sponsored by CAGS, providing information about all the local LGBT groups:

A previous web portal, set up by Croydon Health Promotion in 2002, was called Croydon Pride.

A group called "Insight" was set up around 2008 to provide support for LGBT victims of hate crime, but it is thought to no longer exist.


The ACE Centre (AIDS Care and Education) operated for several years in its own premises in Croydon and later Mitcham, providing support for people affected by HIV, with several members of the local gay community in leading roles.

Trans groups

The Gemini support group had its base in Croydon.

Croydon Trans Group was set up in 2000. In 2014 it changed its name to TransPALS (Trans People Across London South). It meets monthly in a venue in Croydon.

Asylum seekers

Rainbows Across Borders with dove and rainbow-coloured globe
Rainbows Across Borders logo
Lunar House brings many refugees and asylum seekers to Croydon, including many LGBT people fleeing oppression in their own countries. Rainbows Across Borders was founded in 2013 as a Croydon-based support group for LGBT asylum seekers. Many of its members have been gay and lesbian people from Uganda.


Croydon Friend was set up to provide a counselling and befriending service, with regular telephone help sessions and other activities. It lasted from 1973 to 2001, by which time the need for such a service had been much reduced.

Younger people

Croydon Area Gay Youth (CAGY) flourished for a number of years, generally working in partnership with CAGS (the two groups shared a chairman for about a year). Croydon Gay 20s and 30s lasted for a short time, but never attracted many members, and Crocus had for a while an offshoot called Crocus 18-30.

In the early 21st century there was a group called "Cygnet", later renamed "OMO Youth" for the under-25s, organised by Croydon Council Youth Service. It has since been replaced by The Bridge, an LGBT youth club meeting weekly.

Gay venues

At one time there were a number of gay venues in Croydon, including The Croydon in St George's Walk (long boarded up, but now re-opened as "The Odd Shoe" and claiming to be gay-friendly), the Goose and Carrot (demolished), the Hollybush (Crystal Palace), PJs in Thornton Heath, the Duke of Clarence in South Norwood and The Wine Lines in Station Approach, Norwood Junction [6]. The Star in West Croydon, although not gay, was the location for a very successful series of discos which raised money for the Croydon CHE Group. It has since been renamed the Broad Green Tavern.

This left the Bird in Hand, Sydenham Road, as the only full-time gay pub in the town, and it is now better described (like many other formerly gay pubs) as "gay-friendly" rather than "gay".[7]

Beaulieu Heights in Upper Norwood is a long-established local cruising ground.

Annual events

Events have been held in Croydon since 2006 for LGBT History Month[8] and for IDAHO,[9] for the Trans Day of Remembrance since 2011,[10][11] and for Black History Month in 2010, 2012 and 2013.[12] The IDAHO event for 2014 was branded "One Love".

A Croydon Pride event was held in 1993, but failed to become a regular event. A Croydon Pride event was suggested for 2014.[13] but this came to nothing. However a Croydon PrideFest is being organised for August 2016.

External links


  2. Samantha Booth, "Croydon to welcome first openly gay mayor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor this year". Croydon Advertiser, 26 January 2016
  3. Out of the Shadows, Chapter 6, "The Croydon Group, 1971–",
  5. Croydon online: Archived version as at September 2012
  6. Croydon CHE Sep 1978 Group Newsletter lists The Croydon (Park St.), The Wine Lines and The Star (Sunday evenings) LSE Hall Carpenter Archives HCA/CHE/7/114
  7. Joel Watson, "GayEastLondon: Where is Croydon’s gay community?". East London Lines, 2 April 2015. Accessed: 2016-03-12. (Archived by WebCite® at
  13. Andrew Jameson, "Time to bring gay pride festival to Croydon" Croydon Advertiser, 16 August 2013.