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What is it like in Catford?

With its central location and car parking facilities, the park is often used for large events. The Council holds its annual People's Day event here each July, which attracts crowds of over 30,000.

It has been highlighted in the Rail Utilisation Strategy that there should be a capital infrastructure development in the medium term of developing the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle through to Catford. This programme of work is known as the Bakerloo line extension and could start as early as 2020.[citation needed]

Lewisham is a multi-cultural, multi-faith community and all main religious groups are represented in the community with their own places of worship nearby to Catford and primarily in the Lewisham Central ward such as the Islamic Centre that serves the needs of the Muslim community in Lewisham and across south London.

Catford is served by many Transport for London bus routes.[10]

The Catford Bridge Tavern is another heritage listed building close to the old dog track; this mock tudor pub burnt down in March 2015.[7] Nearby, is St Dunstan's College.

Catford's most prominent landmark is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance to the Catford Centre. This is a small shopping centre, housing Tesco and Iceland supermarkets as well as other high street stores. There is a street market on Catford Broadway. Catford has several pubs and a variety of non-chain restaurants and cafes.

Current plans put forward by Lewisham Council are to demolish Milford Towers, as the estate has fallen into disrepair and the land can be better used to meet the needs of local residents.[5]

Rushey Green Time Bank was the first time bank in the UK to be based in a health-care setting. It is the largest time bank in south-east London and it has established a reputation for pioneering work in this field for 12 years.

The area was once home to the Catford Studios, producing films during the silent era. Catford also use to have a cinema diametric to the theatre. Catford was also satirised in The Chap magazine in a series called 'A Year in Catford' named after Peter Mayle's best-seller A Year in Provence. The magazine poked fun at Catford's mundanity.

In the meantime, £1.5 million has been secured from the Mayor of London's Outer London Fund to make improvements to Catford Broadway which would benefit businesses, residents and shoppers and help to maintain the vitality of the town centre during any future redevelopment works.

The refurbishment of the street began in June 2013 and was completed in 2014.

The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]

Catford is a district of south east London, within the London Borough of Lewisham. It is located south west of Lewisham. The area is the civic administrative centre for the local authority, and comprises both the Town Hall & Civic Suite. The majority of Catford is located in the Rushey Green and Catford South wards within the Borough.

The park consists of three fields with a river running through them. The park underwent enhancements in 2007/8 to the northern field to divert the river into main area of the field creating a natural space where river dipping and paddling is popular in the summer months.

At the end of World War II, the 188-bungalow Excalibur Estate was laid out in Catford, and by 2011 this was the largest surviving prefab estate in Britain. However, it is now planned that all but six of the prefabs will be demolished and replaced by new housing, although many residents voiced their opposition to demolition.[3]

Atheists are also known to be active in the area, and the South East London (formerly Lewisham) Humanist Group meet on the third Thursday each month in Catford.[13]

Catford was historically part of Kent until 1889, when it was absorbed into the new London County Council, along with the majority of the present day London Borough of Lewisham. Catford covers most of SE6 postcode district. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]

In 2010/11 more enhancements were carried out to the middle and southern fields to open the river up to use and as a result children and adults alike can now access various sections to enjoy the environment, including the kingfishers and the heron.

The middle field contains one of the last established rare Dutch Elm trees in London. The park is a key cycling and walking route and popular with joggers and dog walkers.

Formed in 1967 Voluntary Action Lewisham (The Lewisham Council for Voluntary Service) is an independent charitable organisation that supports the voluntary and community sector in the London borough of Lewisham. Its role is to oversee and grow the many voluntary groups and organisations across the borough.

The park has a park users group called Friends of Mountsfield Park that steward the green-space and oversee its management and development.

There is also a children's playground for the younger visitor. For those who enjoy more passive pursuits the park has ornamental gardens and a bandstand.

Catford's oldest pub is the Black Horse and Harrow and Karl Marx is reputed to have been an occasional patron.[citation needed] The pub has existed since at least 1700[citation needed] though the present building dates from 1897. Between 1932 and 2003, Catford Stadium was a successful greyhound racing track, but was closed and then destroyed by fire in 2005[6] and ultimately demolished to make way for a new housing development.

The name derives from the place where cattle crossed the River Ravensbourne in Saxon times.[citation needed]It is also said that the name originates from all black cats, associated with witchcraft, being thrown into the ford to drown during the witch hunts.[citation needed]

Catford has a Non-League football club Lewisham Borough F.C. who play at the Ladywell Arena.

Catford's main road is the A205 South Circular which crosses South London, running from Woolwich in the east to the junction of the A406 (North Circular Road), the M4 and the A4 at Gunnersbury in the west.

Architecture critic Ian Nairn praised Eros House, which is now Grade II listed as:

Previous attempts to regenerate Catford have been hampered by various complex issues such as the number of different landowners in and around the town centre. However, in 2010, as a sign of commitment to ensuring a regeneration of the area, the Council seized upon the opportunity to buy Catford Shopping Centre, thereby giving it greater influence over future plans.

Cricket, bowls and tennis are represented in Catford in the form of Catford Wanderers and Catford and Cyphers sports clubs. Catford also has a skating club. Kent County Cricket Club have played at Catford several times in the past.

Catford Saints were a professional baseball side playing in the London Major Baseball League in the early 20th century.

Other than the shows at the Broadway Theatre the main cultural events are Lewisham Peoples day held in Mountsfield Park.

Catford is served by two rail stations, Catford station and Catford Bridge station. Services from Catford station run to Blackfriars, St Pancras, Bromley South, Kentish Town (London Victoria on Sundays) and Sevenoaks via Swanley. Services from Catford Bridge station run to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Hayes.

A few examples of Brutalist architecture survive including the Catford shopping centre and Milford Towers, designed by the architect Owen Luder in 1974. The design was to make it the Barbican of the south.

It is a good place for birdwatching at any time of year, and one of very few sites in Lewisham where five species of warblers can be seen or heard on a summer stroll.

The Catford Society was established in 2014, as a result of residents wanting to come together and advocate for their community and locality, after the successful establishment of the Catford Canteen, a pop up weekly restaurant with visiting chefs. The society aims to promote the area as a great place to live, work and study.

Catford is a priority area for regeneration in the London Borough of Lewisham.[8] Several key sites around the town centre have been identified for redevelopment - Milford Towers, Catford Dog Track, Catford Island, The Civic Centre, Lewisham Town Hall & The "Wickes" site have all been highlighted for significant change in the proposed Catford Plan.[9]

Although lower than Hilly Fields the park affords excellent views west over Catford to Crystal Palace in the distance.

The local council maintains Conisborough College and Greenvale School.

In Rushey Green the old village water hand-pump from the 1850s survives.

Catford has three independent schools, Sydenham High School, St Dunstan's College and a small faith school Springfield Christian School.