From 1809 to 1836 the site was the terminal basin of the Croydon Canal. The canal was drained and became part of the route of the London & Croydon Railway, opening on 5 June 1839. In 1845 the L&C inaugurated the atmospheric system of propulsion; it worked for about a year but was not successful. The station was originally named Croydon; in April 1851 it became West Croydon. The canal basin was served by a short private branch from the terminus of the Surrey Iron Railway (SIR) at Pitlake. From 1855 the station was the terminus of the West Croydon to Wimbledon Line, which followed much of the route of the SIR. This line closed on 31 May 1997, to be replaced by Tramlink. Platform 2, the terminal bay for the Wimbledon line, was trackless until 2008. Very little remains of this platform apart from a little section at the western end, as most of it was filled in to extend platform 3 to allow trains to stop closer to the stairs. In 1912 the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912), a resident of Croydon, collapsed from overwork and pneumonia, dying a few days later. During the 1930s the station saw major alterations and reconstruction. A new ticket office was built on London Road. The original station buildings, ticket office and entrance in Station Road were closed and are still standing, converted to a shop. As the vast majority of place names in the area are of Anglo-Saxon origin, the theory accepted by most philologists is that the name Croydon derives originally from the Anglo-Saxon croh, meaning "crocus", and denu, "valley", indicating that, like Saffron Walden in Essex, it was a centre for the cultivation of saffron. It has been argued that this cultivation is likely to have taken place in the Roman period, when the saffron crocus would have been grown to supply the London market, most probably for medicinal purposes, and particularly for the treatment of granulation of the eyelids.
The main entrance is on London Road, a short distance from the main shopping area. There are ticket barriers protecting the platforms. Trains run to London Victoria, London Bridge, Highbury & Islington, and Sutton and from there to west Surrey and West Sussex. By December 2009 station remodelling and tracklaying were completed for the southern extension of the East London Line, of which West Croydon is a terminus. The space occupied by former bay platform 2, out of use since the Wimbledon service was withdrawn in 1997 and replaced by Tramlink in 2000, has been utilised to extend platform 3, the London-bound platform. Bay platform 1 has been retained. In April 2012 a new entrance was constructed in Station Road, allowing direct access to the railway station from the adjacent bus and tram stops. A short distance from the main entrance is Station Road, where West Croydon bus station and tram stop are located. The tram stop is next to, but was for a long time physically separate from, the rail platforms, until the construction of the new entrance. All Tramlink routes use West Croydon, which is a single platform stop on the unidirectional loop around central Croydon. The station is in Travelcard Zone 5 and has wi-fi, help points, payphones, cash machines, boarding ramps, and a bridge, but no toilets.
Connections: National Rail. Tramlink. London Buses routes 60, 64, 109, 166, 194, 198, 250, 289, 403, 405, 412, 450 and 689 and night route N109 serve the station.