I suspect that for many people, the mention of Croydon calls up images of its 1960s boom, when its older core was sidelined by rapid new development. 'It suddenly became the most consistently modern looking area in the whole of England, ' says Pevsner. 'The result looks thrilling from the air but breaks up from near into separate buildings, very few of architectural merit.' Sunshine in Suburbia, an exhibition at Croydon Clocktower, turns the clock back a few decades further to the 1920s and 1930s, when Croydon and its environs became south London's version of Metro-Land.
With separate sections on housing types, gardens, entertainment, transport, shopping etc. , and backed by a mix of photos, posters and domestic paraphernalia - cocktail shakers, lino samples, a bakelite light fitting - it evokes a period when Croydon was the place to be. The ubiquitous sun-ray motif migrates from a wallpaper pattern book to the front of a radio; a poster advertises 'A Health Talk: Your Part in Social Hygiene'; at a summer fair in South Norwood, 'residents danced until nightfall under the poplar trees'.
In the adjacent gallery, the theme gets a contemporary spin, with models by Pierre d'Avoine (Slim House, Invisible House) and Bill Dunster (BedZED), and an IKEA mock-up of today's Croydon living room of choice - a perfect set for an update of Mike Leigh's excruciating play Abigail's Party ( www. croydon. gov. uk/clocktower).
London's suburbs have a permanent study resource in the form of the Museum of Domestic Architecture at Middlesex University, close to streets of 1930s semis between Cockfosters and Southgate. Its latest exhibition, opening on 7 November, is Come Out to Live - Come In to Play, which features London Transport posters from the inter-war years; Paul Nash designed the two above ( www. moda. mdx. ac. uk).
There's also a permanent 1930s room at the Geffrye Museum in Hackney, which is reopening its earlier period rooms after refurbishment on 14 November ( www. geffrye-museum. org.
uk). And John Betjeman, laureate of the suburbs, isn't forgotten in this round-up - his celebrated TV film Metro-Land is now available on DVD (£10.99 from the BBC).