|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Broad Green, Croydon (TQ313662)|
|Distance:||4.6 miles (7.4 km)|
|Meets:||A212, A234, A214, A215, A212, A222, A235, A236|
|Route outline (key)|
One of the most innocuous and hard-to-find A-roads in south London (and that's not an easy title to claim, in a place where main roads are just city streets and few roads are signposted), the A213 is a direct route from Croydon to Sydenham but not a very fast one.
In fact the route starts on the A212 in Sydenham and crosses it again a few miles later, and even if you had taken the A213 instead of the A212 between those points, you wouldn't stick with it beyond there. Instead of actually going to Croydon, the A213 misses it by a short distance and passes across the north of the town centre. Arguably, for most purposes that the A213 serves, the A212 is probably a better way to get where you're going.
One function of the A213 is forming a group of four consecutively numbered roads that meet - a surprisingly rare event in British road numbering - joining, as it does, the A212, A214 and A215. Cruel fate keeps it far from the A216 in Streatham.
Sydenham - Broad Green
The A213 starts rather innocuously from the A212 at Sydenham, where a small street called Newlands Park that meets the main road at a set of traffic lights turns out to be an A-road. Sydenham is in the borough of Lewisham, but a short distance down this road takes us into Bromley. The road is narrow, lined with Victorian terraces that have seen better days, and suffers from parked cars on both sides that often reduce it to single-lane traffic. This is entirely par for the course for the first section of the route that takes us to Penge.
Before long the road swings sharply to the left into Lennard Road - this was clearly once a crossroads, but has been marked to allow the A213 to turn ninety degrees. Unfortunately not all such sudden turns are so helpfully laid out, and we leave Lennard Road almost immediately by taking a right turn into the even narrower Parish Lane. There are no signs to indicate this. (Traffic coming the other way on the A213 gives way to an unclassified road here.) Thankfully, Parish Lane usually only has parking on one side. It leads to a set of traffic lights where we make another right turn into Green Lane. This turning is signposted, and we join a better road that takes us under the London to Kent railway and in to Penge.
The traffic lights here, at the Pawleyne Arms, are where we meet the A234. One of the historic claims this area makes is that oldest police station in South London is off to our right. Beyond this junction, the road at last begins to feel like an A-road - or an urban south London A-road, at least, which is the next best thing.
We are now on Croydon Road, a much broader road leading in a straight line and taking us gently uphill. Down the side streets to the right, the Crystal Palace transmitter tower can be seen on top of the hill to the north-west. Another simple signalised crossroads, called the Robin Hood although its pub is long gone, is where we encounter the A214, which drops steeply away to our left on its way to Elmers End. Ahead, Croydon road is still almost straight, but becomes progressively more enclosed and progress is slow again. Eventually, crossing under the Crystal Palace to Beckenham Junction railway, we enter the borough of Croydon, and the road now becomes slow, double-parked and claustrophobic once again.
This is South Norwood, the area that claims the most southerly London postcode. The A213 begins to turn and climbs to cross the London Bridge to Croydon railway by the quaintly named Goat House Bridge (named after an adjacent public house), twisting through a double-bend as it does. From here the road is called South Norwood High Street and the next signalised crossroads is, accordingly, in the midst of a commercial district. This is where we meet South Norwood Hill, the A215. The railway bridge just to the left is low, however, and overheight traffic is advised to turn off the A213 just to the north of Goat House Bridge onto Sunny Bank and join the A215 that way; this is marked on most maps as a spur of the A213.
Continuing along the A213's mainline, an access to Norwood Junction railway station is on the left, and shortly afterwards comes Tennison Road, a street of fine Victorian houses (now a little less sought-after than they were when first built) where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived and penned a number of Sherlock Holmes stories. Meanwhile, beyond the houses to the right lies a different kind of entertainment - Selhurst Park, home to Crystal Palace FC. We are now on Selhurst Road and find ourselves most of the way towards Croydon.
Before long the A213 passes under the London Victoria to Croydon railway, with Selhurst station above us, and we enter Croydon proper. This district is called Broad Green and, leaving Selhurst behind, the road becomes Northcote Road.
It's time for another signalised crossroads, but just for fun, this one is at a very acute angle and right turns from here are very nearly U-turns. The road we meet here is our old friend the A212 again, on its way from Thornton Heath to Croydon, and traffic heading for the town centre is best advised to turn left and join it - before long it becomes Wellesley Road, the east side of Croydon's abortive ring road and one of the better approaches to the town. For those staying on the A213, we continue straight ahead into Windmill Road.
This doesn't last long - in fairly short order we reach a Give Way line, where we turn right. This is St James's Road, skirting the northern edge of Croydon, and to our left is the end of the A222, which has come all the way from Bexley. The A213 takes over the end of this street and shortly reaches a staggered crossroads with London Road, where we dog-leg straight ahead into Sumner Road. To the right at this junction is the A235, leading north towards London, on the line of what was very briefly the A22 in the earliest days of road numbering.
Sumner Road is another narrow street of Victorian houses - just like nearly all the roads we've taken since Sydenham - and like the rest it doesn't last long before it too gives up, reaching the A236 Mitcham Road at a set of traffic lights. We're used to turning corners, dodging from one street to another, but this time there's no obvious way forwards and so the A213 gives up the chase here.