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Croydon expanded in the Middle Ages as a market town and a centre for charcoal production, leather tanning and brewing.The Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Wandsworth opened in 1803 and was the world's first public railway.
The town is unique in Greater London for its Tramlink light rail transport system.
In the mid 20th century these sectors were replaced by retailing and the service economy, brought about by massive redevelopment which saw the rise of office blocks and the Whitgift Centre, the largest shopping centre in London until 2008.
Croydon was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.
Its population of 52,104 at the 2011 census includes the wards of Addiscombe, Broad Green and Fairfield.
Historically part of the hundred of Wallington in the county of Surrey, at the time of the Norman conquest of England Croydon had a church, a mill, and around 365 inhabitants, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.