BRIEF HISTORY OF OCRA
In the Beginning ............
All Residents' Associations are essentially watchdogs and pressure groups. They commonly start because of someone's failure (usually the Council) to provide acceptable services, or else object to undesirable changes. Old Coulsdon Residents' Association is no exception.
In July 1936, 35 residents met in the Jolly Farmers pub in Purley to discuss what could be done about the poor water supply, the condition of roads and road charges. The existing water supply at that time was from a well in Waterhouse Lane, which was intermittent and of poor quality. Roads were unmade, rutted and potholed. Charges for having them made up should have been the developer's responsibility, but the Council was billing the residents instead. One of the original 35 residents at that first meeting was taken to court over non-payment of his bill.
The area concerned was a development known as 'Tudor Village' i.e. Court Avenue, The Glade and Keston Avenue. At this time the area now covered by OCRA had grown over a short period to about 1,000 dwellings compared with the present day 2,418.
When the Second World War ended in 1945, local groups including OCRA organised various victory celebration events. OCRA's efforts yielded a surplus of nearly £41 towards a fund for a community centre, which residents had been trying to obtain since 1934. A Community Hall Association was formed, and a fête arranged by OCRA in Grange Park the same year raised a further £59 for the fund.
Unfortunately, lack of further community support meant that the idea floundered and it was not until June 1984 that the Old Coulsdon Centre for the Retired was opened by the Mayor, Mrs. Maureen Hordern. This was only made possible by a government grant via Help the Aged, combined with a lot of help from local charities and individuals. Although this was not what was originally intended, the steering committee were persuaded that after 50 years of talking but not doing, it was more sensible to make a start by concentrating on the retired slice of the populace than aim for the whole cake and, once again, achieve nothing.
Over the years we have made a difference to our community by keeping a watchful eye on various planning matters, especially where any encroachment on Green Belt land was proposed. We campaigned successfully to have another secondary school in the area, which resulted in Taunton Manor Secondary School (now Oasis Academy) being built in 1959. It was also OCRA that asked the then Coulsdon and Purley Urban District Council to provide a children's play area in Grange Park in 1960. By the following year swings, a roundabout and a rocking horse had been installed, and in 1967 OCRA also provided a slide.
You can also find out more about the local history of the area in general by borrowing one of the following books, 'A Village History: Coulsdon', by Ian Scales of the Bourne Society and the Local Studies Pack for Old Coulsdon produced by Bradmore Green Library.
The Association Now
Membership of the Association had doubled to 70 only two months after that first meeting in July 1936. In December 2015, 1,770 out of 2,418 households were members (73%). The subscription in 1936 was 1 shilling (5p) per person, then in 1937 it was 3 shillings (15p) and, when later made per household, became 2 shillings and sixpence (12½p), or half a crown to those of us old enough to remember the old money!
It was not until 1975 that inflation triggered a number of increases, culminating in a 60p rate in 1983. It was increased to £1.00 in 1989 and has remained the same until 2010 when it was increased to the still very affordable amount of £2.00.