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Croydon is a large town in South London, England, 9.4 miles (15.1 km) south of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Croydon, a local government district of Greater London, it is one of the largest commercial districts in Greater London, with an extensive shopping district and night-time economy. The entire town had a population of 192,064 as of 2011, whilst the wider borough had a population of 384,837.
Historically an ancient parish in the Wallington hundred of Surrey, at the time of the Norman conquest of England Croydon had a church, a mill, and around 365 inhabitants, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Croydon expanded in the Middle Ages as a market town and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing. The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was an early public railway. Later 19th century railway building facilitated Croydon's growth as a commuter town for London. By the early 20th century, Croydon was an important industrial area, known for car manufacture, metal working and Croydon Airport. In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced by retailing and the service economy, brought about by massive redevelopment which saw the rise of office blocks and the Whitgift Centre, the largest shopping centre in Greater London until 2008. Historically, the town formed part of the County of Surrey, and between 1889 and 1965 a county borough, but was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.
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