Welcome to Croydon: the borough’s newest residents shine bright

By - Wednesday 26th April, 2017

Meeting just a few of those making the move to Croydon

Photo public domain.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty is the phrase: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. If you were an emigrant to America in the early 20th century, this quotation from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet ‘New Colossus’ would have been the first thing you would have read upon arriving at Ellis Island.

Croydon lacks such an iconic salutation – Croydon’s emigrés must make do with a somewhat more muted “East Croydon: We Live Here” (sponsored by Liverpool Victoria) sign. But nonetheless, the ambitions and promise of opportunity are the same. People are moving to Croydon to make a new life and ‘breathe free’. Croydon is the new Corinth after all.

The capital’s hottest place for homeowners and businesses

In 2017, Croydon stands as one of the coolest places in London. For those of us who have watched how Croydon has changed over the past five years, this comes as no surprise: Croydon is experiencing an arts renaissance, it is the UK’s fastest-growing economy, it is London’s greenest borough – and so much more.

Maddy Duxbury: Croydon Citizen contributor and East Croydon superfan.
Photo by Maddy Duxbury, used with permission.

The change in the perception of Croydon has not escaped the mainstream media, with The Guardian noting how we’re having the ‘last laugh’, The Evening Standard celebrating ‘Cool Croydon’ and The Metro describing us as now more hipster than Shoreditch. This naturally makes it the place to be for businesses and homeowners.

Croydon has seen an explosion in tech companies moving to – or starting up within – the borough, alongside all the new retail, residential and infrastructure developments. According to Zoopla, house prices in Croydon have soared by 13.1% in the past year, and it takes an average of just thirty days between a house being listed for sale and an offer being made, making the borough quite the topical ‘buy now whilst you can still afford it’ dinner conversation piece. Royal Mail says that over 1,500 new people moved into the immediate area around East Croydon Station in the past year – the furthest having moved from Aberdeen!

But, more importantly, behind all the numbers are people. Dynamic, creative humans with unique lives, passions and stories – all of whom are united in that they’ve chosen Croydon to be the arena for their next stage of life.

She has set up a website to help Croydon residents

Take, for example, Maddy Duxbury: she’s only been here a year and already she’s set up a mega-popular Croydon Instagram account and a new website for Croydon residents who need help finding out about all the cool things that are going on here.

Or Charles Barber, who moved from Woking to Croydon. He has come here with a righteous agenda to make Croydon greener, and has set up Friends of Whitehorse Park and Croydon Rainforest Club.

Or how about Will Dobbie, the Iraq-infantry-commander-turned-pastor, who felt a calling to come to Croydon and set up a new church.

Will Dobbie, who set up Redeemer Church, and his family.
Photo by Will Dobbie, used with permission.

Reluctant Richmond resident Elizabeth James has just opened a chic new art gallery in South Norwood and tells me that she has an eye on buying a place in the area. Irish culture vulture Bernadette Fallon has returned to her birthplace of Addiscombe where she now sets the borough’s cafés on edge with her annual Best Independent Café Award competition.

Derby expat Marcia Henry-Morgan has been so “charmed” by Croydon that she is now a one-woman whirlwind reviewer – exploring Croydon’s spas and gyms so you don’t have to. Mick Robins of Connected Spaces moved his thirty-strong company from Shoreditch to Croydon Tech City and hasn’t looked back.

Each were attracted to Croydon for different reasons

All of these people – and others – make up the face of Croydon’s newest arrivals: each attracted to Croydon for a variety of reasons, all of whom are committed to making the area a better place in their own way.

People who’ve occupied an area for a long time often take issue with rapid changes in the make up of their community. Particularly in London, accusations of gentrification are sometimes levelled by people who feel an influx of newcomers will have a detrimental effect on the area.

Their concerns are worth exploring, but my belief is: if everybody who moves to Croydon is as proactive and conscientious as the people whom I’ve mentioned above, we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • John Gass

    Yes, there’s no doubt that Croydon is discovering how to be cool. But, for the time being at least, it is as conflicted as it is cool. With every step towards hipness comes a new challenge to deep and meaningful integration. Gentrification is a buzzword that is already losing its power largely, I suspect, because it’s only Croydon’s already empowered who feel their voice will be heard.

    Croydon has, for many years, been a suitable case for treatment, but we should beware it becoming “You’re tired, you’re poor, your huddled masses yearn to breathe free”.