Project Purley

The Local History Society for Purley on Thames

Modern Purley (1901-1999)


Many terms have been used to describe the tremendous technical advances which took place in the 20th Century: the motor age, the atomic age, the space age to name but three. All had their impact on Purley which changed from a semi-feudal sleepy country village to a dormitary suburb on the edge of the countryside.

We may conveniently divide the twentieth century into seven phases:-

1901-14 When change began
1914-20 The Great War and its aftermath
1920-39 The inter-war years
1939-45 The Second World War
1945-60 The Postwar years
1960-79 Britain in Decline
1980-99 The collapse of socialism

Each had a markedly different effect upon Purley but what happened after the start of the 21st Century with the spread of the internet, digital TV, broadband and social media would have an even greater impact, however it is much too soon to come to any sound conclusions.

The Beginnings of Change

The Great War and its Aftermath

The Inter-war Years

The Second World War

This is dealt with in a separate section Click here

We also have some stories about life in Purley during WW2

Gallantry should never be forgot. The story of Edmund Goddard and the X Craft

The Post War Years

Britain in Decline

The collapse of Socialism

The election of Mrs Thatcher and the Conservatives in 1979 changed the political face of the world, not just that of Britain. It was a period when the cosy accepted values that had persisted since the second world war were shown to be flawed and that there were different, even if not better ways of going about things. It was realised that the state did not need to control everything in order to exert an influence, it was not necessary for Local Authorities to provide all the local services. Above all the myth of Soviet invincibility was blown and the real state of the Soviet economy after 70 years of Communism was exposed by the market forces that Thatcher released. Her influence on the world stage was real. She was the guide and mentor of President Reagan in the US, she built up a working dialogue with President Gorbachev in the USSR and she handbagged the rest of the European Community into submission. On the domestic scene the nationalised industries were privatised and became either private companies or public utilities. Gas, Electricity and the Telephones were sold off. The National Bus Company was broken up and Purley saw Alder Valley turn into the Bee line. The Thames Conservancy became first Thames Water in 1972 taking over water supply and sewage disposal from the local authorities, but then these latter functions were privatised. leaving the old Conservancy powers in the hands of a new National Rivers Authority. Responsibility for the governance of schools was devolved to Governors from the Local Authorities and eventually in 1992 Denefield School became a self-governing Trust and in the same year even Long Lane Schol got its own cheque book. Similar influences were at work in the Health Service. When the opportunity arose, the Pangbourne Medical practice which served a good deal of Purley took over control of their own budgets in 1990. The Local Hospitals are also considering forming themselves into a self governing Trust.

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