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History The London Borough of Croydon was formed in 1965 from the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District and the County Borough of Croydon. It is now governed by a cabinet-style council created in 2001. The name Croydon comes from Crogdene or Croindone, named by the Saxons in the 8th century when they settled here, although the area had been inhabited since prehistoric times. It is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon croeas deanas, meaning "the valley of the crocuses", indicating that, like Saffron Walden in Essex, it was a centre for the collection of saffron. Another opinion holds that the name derives from the Old French croie dune, meaning "chalk hill", since Croydon stands at the northern edge of the chalk hills called the North Downs. By the time of the Norman invasion Croydon had a church, a mill and around 365 inhabitants as recorded in the Doomsday Book. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Lanfranc lived at Croydon Palace which still stands. Visitors included Thomas Beckett (another Archbishop), and royal figures such as King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Croydon carried on through the ages as a prosperous market town, they produced charcoal, tanned leather, and ventured into brewing. Croydon was served by the Surrey Iron Railway, the first public railway (horse drawn) in the world, in 1803, and by the London to Brighton rail link in the mid-1800s, helping it to become the largest town in Surrey. In the 1900s Croydon became known for industries such as metal working, car manufacture and its aerodrome, Croydon Airport. The aerodrome became the largest in London and the main terminal for international air freight into the capital. Starting out during World War I as an airfield for protection against Zeppelins, and developing into one of the great airports of the world during the 1920s and 1930s, it welcomed the world's pioneer aviators in its heyday. British Airways used the airport for a short period of time after redirecting from Northolt Aerodrome, and Croydon was the operating base for Imperial Airways. As aviation technology progressed, however, and aircraft became larger and more numerous, it was recognized in 1952 that the airport would be too small to cope with the ever-increasing volume of air traffic. The last scheduled flight departed on 30 September 1959. It was superseded as the main airport by both London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airport. The air terminal, now known as Airport House, has been restored and has a hotel and museum in it. It was partly due to the airport that Croydon suffered heavy bomb damage during World War Two. In the late 1950s and through the 1960s the council commercialized the centre of Croydon with massive development of office blocks and the Whitgift Centre which was formerly the biggest in town shopping centre in Europe. The centre was officially opened in October 1970 by the Duchess of Kent. The original Whitgift School there had moved to Haling Park, South Croydon in the 1930s; the replacement school on the site, Whitgift Middle School, now the Trinity School of John Whitgift, moved to Shirley Park in the 1960s when the buildings were demolished. The present borough council unsuccessfully applied for city status in 2000 and again in 2002. If it had been successful it would have been the third local authority in Greater London to hold that status along with the City of London and the City of Westminster. At present the London Borough of Croydon is the second most populous Local government district of England without city status, Kirklees being the first. It is said that there applications were turned down due to a lack of a cathedral in the borough, a historic recommendation for cities. Croydon is currently going through a vigorous regeneration plan, called Croydon Vision 2020. This will change the urban planning of Central Croydon completely. Its main aims are to make Croydon London's Third City and the hub of retail, business, culture and living in South London and South East England. The plan was showcased in a series of events called Croydon Expo. It was aimed at business and residents in the London Borough of Croydon to demonstrate the £3.5bn development projects the Council wishes to see in Croydon in the next ten years. There have also been exhibitions for regional districts of Croydon, including Waddon, South Norwood and Woodside, Purley, New Addington and Coulsdon. Examples of upcoming architecture featured in the expo can easily be found to the centre of the borough in the form of the Croydon Gateway site and the Cherry Orchard Road Towers