Local Resident Shares Unique Perspective on Life in Croydon

My family moved to West Croydon when I was two, so when I decided to move out a few years ago I saw it as my chance to escape the area.

Call it Stockholm syndrome, but I couldn’t leave. I’m a suburban girl, and I’ve got a lot of memories here.

Finding My Home in Thornton Heath

Two years ago, I bought a two-bedroom flat in a block near Thornton Heath station, which is almost like a suburb of Croydon.

I’m five minutes from my little sister, 15 from my parents, and a short bus ride from my best friend.

The Changing Face of South London

Growing up, my parents would worry if I went to Brixton or Peckham, but now those areas are gentrified, which is a double-edged sword.

Croydon feels like how all of south London used to 15 years ago.

Sometimes I think it’s ungentrifiable. It’s holding out.

Exploring the Local Food Scene

Chicken shops and greasy spoons dominate the high street, but on Brigstock Road you’ve got Fireaway Pizza, Patty Palace for really good Jamaican food, and Smacks, who do fantastic burgers.

There’s also Jaluice for healthy juices and jerk bagels. They’re all next to each other, so that’s where I’ll go to treat myself.

For jollof rice and ayamase, it’s Tasty African Food, which is a Nigerian chain.

Blue & Orange is a great Mediterranean restaurant, but if I’m meeting friends on a Sunday, it’s always at The Store in Croydon for a roast.

Nightlife and Recreation

I can do a pub, but I’m more of a bar girl.

Croydon used to be a nightlife hotspot with Dice Bar, Black Sheep, and a Tiger Tiger that people would commute to from Essex, but Tiger went and everything went with it.

Staying Active in the Area

Sports aren’t my forte, but during lockdown I ran a lot in Thornton Heath Recreation Ground, which for some reason has about three different names locally.

I’ve also been swimming a few times at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, but I haven’t tried the gym yet.

Connecting with Nature

I live between the recreation ground and Trumble Gardens, which is nice but tiny.

I went to the same school as Kate Moss in Purley, and I’d see deer and cows on the 15-minute journey.

I’ve been to the Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve a few times and I’m also a founding member of Birch Selsdon, which has amazing grounds.

Cultural Excursions

There’s not much in the immediate area, but Croydon has Fairfield Halls for theatre and a Vue cinema. There’s also a gallery called First Floor Space.

Grocery Shopping in Thornton Heath

Thornton Heath is the land of corner shops.

At uni, I really struggled with the lack of ethnic-specific foods and seasonings, but there are big Caribbean, African, and Asian populations around here so you can get everything.

I’ll happily pop up the road in my pyjamas. There’s a big Tesco in Thornton Heath, and Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer in the Whitgift Centre. Croydon also has Surrey Street Market for fruit and veg.

We’re still hanging in there for Westfield.

Getting Around Town

I’ll get the train into London Victoria or Balham and the Tube from there. Going into London was an event growing up, and I’ve kept that mentality.

In central Croydon, I’ll get the trams. I love them.

Dreaming of Purley

All my dream streets would be in Purley.

There are some really big houses in the Webb Estate. I find the characterization of Croydon really interesting because once you get out to Purley and Selsdon it’s pretty posh.

Local Legends

Bernard, the Reggae King, is a legend.

He dances outside the shopping centre. There was an article saying he’d passed away and they had to do another one to tell everyone he was actually fine.

The Challenges We Face

The council is bankrupt and I’d be lying if I said you didn’t notice it, particularly in the parks.

I feel safe in Croydon, but I might be slightly more on edge if I wasn’t raised here.

It’s less petty crime and more tensions between young people, which is really sad.


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