A man has been arrested after a fire was started at a historic clocktower in the Croydon neighbourhood of Thornton Heath on Thursday. 

A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson but later bailed, police have confirmed.

The roof of the clocktower,  which was built in 1900 to commemorate the new century, was damaged by the fire.

Pictures show the blackened inside of the tower and damage to the clockface.

Firefighters from Norbury Fire Station battled the blaze for more than an hour.

The service was called at around 4.30am and the fire was under control by 6am.

There were no reports of any injuries.

A police spokesperson said: “Police were called at 2.59am on Thursday, September 29 to reports of a fire in High Street, Thornton Heath. Officers attended along with the London Fire Brigade.

“Following enquiries at the scene, it was established the fire had been started deliberately.

"No injuries were reported.

"A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson and taken into custody.

"He was later bailed pending further enquiries to a date in late October.”

Local councillor Karen Jewitt said she was “devastated” at the damage.

She added: “I’m devastated that somebody could do this to something so iconic. 

"I have no idea ho much this is going to cost but it will be a lot of money.”

The clocktower, which sits at the junction of Parchmore Road and Brigstock Road, is owned by Croydon Council.

There was an outpouring of emotion from people on Twitter after fellow Thornton Heath councillor Callton Young Tweeted: “I’m deeply saddened to see the damage done to Thornton Heath Clock Tower by a fire in the early hours. 

"The inside of the tower and clock faces seem to have taken the brunt.”

A spokesperson for Croydon Council said: “We await the outcome of the police investigation into the cause of the fire, but initial findings are that the clocktower has suffered significant damage and is likely to need specialist repair.

“We will be carrying out a detailed assessment to determine the extent of the damage and in the meantime we will secure the site to make it safe.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 593/29Sep or  Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.