I live in Croydon but forever feel defensive about it.


I saw a Facebook post recently written by a 40 something year old, who was born and bred in Croydon.  She called it ‘Crumbling Croydon’. She expressed deep disappointment about what Croydon has supposedly become, talking about the distant past when there were fields and the recent past when there were grand department stores like Grants and Alders. According to local resident Emma Ray, the Croydon in her youth was ‘at the forefront of high street fashion … and a fun night life’. She sees a dramatic change in Croydon and says, ‘in my daughters’ lifetime it has all been neglected and abandoned with the promise of rejuvenation…not many nice memories for them here’.


Emma’s post made me think about my views of Croydon. My friends and I don’t think the same. I’m born and bred in Croydon too and part of her daughters’ generation. I don’t view Croydon as ‘neglected and abandoned’ but as urban and cool.


I like that Croydon is multicultural. I like that Croydon is big. I like that Croydon is on its way to becoming bigger.


Croydon is where the grime artist Stormzy comes from. Stormzy has been influential, as he’s proud of being from Croydon and often references it in his music.  His references put Croydon on the map. Adele went to the Brit School which is world famous and is in Croydon, along with other famous artists: Jessie J and Amy Winehouse to name just two more. Recently, Banksy chose Croydon of all places in the world to display their latest art installation. These facts make me proud to be from Croydon.


Emma mentions the ‘promise of rejuvenation’. She is right in some respects: Croydon has been promised a major development in the siting of a second Westfield shopping centre and this hasn’t happened yet. But Croydon now has ‘Box Park’ (a cutting-edge food hall of independent sellers supplying out of shipping containers) which my friends and I enjoy going to.


Yes, the skyline of Croydon has changed, but modern isn’t always worse, it’s just different.Saffron Square a modern housing development in central Croydon with shops and a plaza below.


Today’s generation isn’t only about modern. Recent building work has been done to preserve the Fairfield Halls (Croydon’s Theatre) in the 60s style that it was built in, keeping it as an iconic landmark in Croydon.


Maybe it’s that Croydon is built for the younger generation and that’s what the older generation are missing.  It’s for our generation now and what’s so special about it can’t be or isn’t seen by the forty somethings.  But I don’t want to stop being defensive about my town to an older generation or to people who don’t know Croydon at all, because the less others know about its hidden greatness, the better!


By Ally Gilmour, Royal Russell School