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Sydenham was located in Kent until 1889 when the County of London was formed, additionally, in 1965 Sydenham became part of the current London Boroughs. The area was one of the first in southern England to have a railway station, opening 1839 by the London and Croydon Railway. Sydenham is the location where the Crystal Palace from the Great Exhibition was relocated in 1854.Today Sydenham is a diverse suburb with a population of 28,378 in 2011.

Originally known as Shippenham, Sydenham began as a small settlement, a few cottages among the woods, whose inhabitants grazed their animals and collected wood. In the 1640s, springs of water in what is now Wells Park were discovered to have medicinal properties, attracting crowds of people to the area. Sydenham grew rapidly in the 19th century after the introduction of the Croydon Canal in 1809 which linked the Grand Surrey Canal to Croydon and a reservoir was constructed in Sydenham. However, the canal was never successful and closed in 1836[3] resulting in it being the first canal to be abandoned by an Act of Parliament. The London & Croydon Railway purchased the canal for £40,250 and quickly converted the alignment for a railway from London Bridge to West Croydon, opening in 1839. After the railway opened potential gas companies began to consider the Sydenham area with the Crystal Palace and District Gas Company having works at Bell Green, which continued production until 1969; a retail park now occupies most of the site.

A railway station, Upper Sydenham opened in 1884 and closed in 1954, with temporary closings in between. The station opened by theLondon, Chatham and Dover Railway had direct trains to Crystal Palace and London Victoria.[5] The station and the line were poorly used despite new houses being built in the area, as passengers preferred to use other stations near-by Sydenham Hill (opening in 1863), Crystal Palace (Lower Level) and Sydenham which were on more direct routes. The ill fate of the Crystal Palace in 1936 saw patronage reduced and the route finally closed in 1954.

Sydenham was attacked by enemies during the Second World War. The gas works were a target, but were never damaged. The railway which ran through Upper Sydenham station was damaged, and some homes in the area were destroyed.

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