Documenting the History and Heritage of the Muslim Community in Croydon

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History of Croydon Mosque
There is some discrepancies with regards to the actual date and address of the first recognised communal Muslim prayer room in Croydon. What can confidently be claimed is by early 1967 the basement of 32 Derby Road was being used by the Muslim community for communal prayers and for children’s classes.

According to Croydon Council records:
Mr Ilyas purchased 30 Derby Road in October 1966, and commenced to convert the premises with the intention of subletting it. He improved the basement and subsequently used it as a meeting place for occasional prayers. Around, January 1967, the Public Health Department engaged in serving notices under the Housing Acts on 30 Derby Road for certain repairs to be carried out. So subsequently, Mr Ilyas moved the religious meetings into the basement of 32 Derby Road. The Council records describe the basement as a 16ft by 13ft room and a storeroom.

According to an interview with Mr M. Shoaib Minhas (a founding member of the Derby Road mosque):
In spring of 1965 Mr Ilyas agreed to use the basement of his property on Derby Road for meeting and prayers. This basement was in bad shape and Mr Minhas, along with Mr Aslam, Mr Inayat Khan and Mr Mustafa (all members of Tablighi Jamaat) went about repairing and decorating the two rooms and small kitchen. Mr Minhas initially stated that this basement was at 32 Derby Road, however, on reflection he says this could have been 30 Derby Road, as he left in Nov 1966 to go and help establish Wimbledon Mosque, and the move to 32 may have occurred after he left. Mr Minhas describes the basement as 2 rooms approximately 16ft by 12ft with a small kitchen.

In August 1967, Mr Ilyas confirms in a letter to the Council that ‘the front basement room at 32 Derby Road is being used for short period[s for] religious congregation and nobody lives there’. Derby Road had for sometime been earmarked for demolition to make way for the Handcroft Housing Redevelopment and the premises were under compulsory purchase order.

In 1969, the Borough Valuer following a site visit states that Mr Ilyas informed him that over 650 people use the mosque daily, and 50 children attend Sunday classes.

Due to imminent demolition the Muslim community came together to request support to relocate the mosque.

In 16th March 1970, a planning application was submitted by the ‘Croydon Mosque Association’ for the use of part of the ground floor of 45 Wellesley Road, West Croydon, which were are the time vacant open plan offices, to use as a ‘mosque and meeting house’.  

Temporary permission was granted on 17th April 1970, with the knowledge that the premises would be required back in connection with widening Wellesley Road.

To Be Continued...