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Croydon – A Complete Concrete Mess?

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Croydon is a very large town on the edge of South West London and is famous for many things. Arguably, the thing it is best known for is for being the only town in the UK that is called Croydon. And possibly the world too.  It has a population of just over 50,000, was mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1506 and infamously described by David Bowie as “a complete concrete mess”.  Today, Croydon is a very different place and is well known as a town that contains everything from a large shopping centre to an airport to a theatre to a clock tower and beyond.  Signs in the town describe it as the home of Nestle, not something you may want to necessarily tell anyone!

croydon town centre
Croydon Town Centre – a concrete mess or a utopia for modernism in post-war Britain?

Croydon and Tourism

Although Croydon is not usually associated as an area popular with tourist and day trippers, it does nonetheless boast several interesting landmarks and entertainment theatres. The Fairfield Halls, which opened in 1962, remains one of the most celebrated music venues in the UK, and over the years has hosted an eclectic range of acts from, Morrissey to The Beatles to Status Quo to Coolio to Lee Scratch Perry to BB King to Augustus Pablo to Johnny and the Mopeds (who actually played in the car park).  As well as offering an extensively stocked library, The Croydon Clocktower also serves as a repertory theatre, performance art space and pop up cinema, and is well worth a visit for its distinctive architecture and atmosphere.  More recently, The Spread Eagle Theatre opened in 2013 and is often used as a venue to showcase plays, stand-up comedy and spoken word recitals destined for the Edinburgh Festival.  Croydon is also well known for the birth place of the music genre, dub step with DJs including Plastician and Konan having cut their musical teeth in the area, and as the home of the BRIT school , which can proudly claim Adele, Jessie J and Amy Winehouse as graduates.

Croydon town centre redevelopment
Croydon Town Centre being built in the 1960s. There are tourist trails to see the various concrete constructions.

Interestingly Croydon now attracts people to look at its concrete from the 1960s – it was developed as a new town.

Shopping in Croydon

Croydon offers a wealth of shopping opportunities and areas, including the high street itself, the Whitgift Centre and the Centriale shopping complex. Whilst it’s been refurbished in recent years, the Whitgift Centre was one of the first modern shopping centres in the UK, and today still boasts the wide range of shops, brands and boutiques that consumers expect.

Croydon town centre with space age skyscrapers
Redeveloped and modern – the centre of Croydon looking fairly space-age.

Similarly Centriale provides an attractive shopping experience and also offers an assortment of cafes, restaurants and bars when refreshment is needed .  The town is also on the verge of unveiling a brand new Westfield shopping complex which is due to open in 2018.

 

 

 

Living in Croydon – would you want to?

As a place to live, Croydon provides a variety of options. Whilst areas such as West Croydon have recently been reported as containing some of the worst living conditions in the UK, areas just outside the town such as Addiscombe, Purley, Couldson and Caterham are well known for attractive suburban houses, leafy roads, desirable schools and open spaces.

Trams in Croydon town centre
Croydon town centre – for some reason they have trams – not seen elsewhere in Greater London.

These areas are made all the more desirable by excellent and speedy commuting links to both London and Brighton, and their proximity to the rolling hills and picturesque landsapes of the North Downs and surrounding Surrey countryside.

Sport

The London borough of Croydon hosts Crystal Palace FC who in recent years have established themselves as a regular fixture in the premier league. The Eagles have earned a well-deserved reputation as giant killers and narrowly lost to Manchester United in the 2016 FA Cup Final.

Croydon sports centre
Croydon sports centre – not particularly awe-inspiring but Crystal Palace FC are just up the road.

The town is also home to two non-league clubs, Croydon FC and Purely Saint Germain, who have both enjoyed considerable success in their respective leagues.  If you’re a keen walker, the area accounts for over 8% of London’s woodlands, and also contains a range of parks and open spaces that are very pleasant to walk around.

The Notorious History of Croydon

Fairly notoriously, in August 2011 Croydon was briefly famous for being part of the London Riots. After police closed a train station and the area around it, rioters looted a load of shops including Orange (quite why you would want to loot mobile phones that hadn’t been switched on yet and can all be identified is beyond me) and Tesco.

Croydon furniture shop burning to the ground
House of Reeves furniture shop burning down in 2011 after the riots reach Croydon.

A man was shot and killed by a looter arguing over stolen goods allegedly (a crime as yet unsolved) and the House of Reeves, a furniture store, was burned completely to the ground. This put Croydon well and truly on the map as the spectacle was filmed by media helicopters flying around London on the lookout for things to actually show that riots were taking place.

Legal Jobs in Croydon

There are 8,035 organisations and law firms employing solicitors within 25 miles of Croydon town centre. This is partly why there really is only one place to look for legal work in the UK if you are a student, graduate or recently qualified solicitor. Greater London has the majority of the legal profession within its boundaries and legal recruitment is concentrated here. Croydon is known for in house legal work – quite a number of larger sized insurers and blue chip companies have bases in and around the town – plus high street practices. There is little or no commercial work at niche commercial solicitors firms here. Some of the high street practices (high street practices are defined as those offering advice to individuals and small businesses rather than multi-national plcs) are very well established being over 100 years old, but the area does attract a lot of start ups. Croydon is quite a deprived area (Londons Poverty Profile website reports it as being the only greater London borough below the average for London) and LAA funded work has always been quite an important part of the general law mix in the town – for some reason we have seen a number of housing law vacancies over the years – both acting for social landlords as well as tenants. The court building in Croydon is pretty horrible. I can personally relate that the nearest Premier Inn to the courts is not very pleasant and neither is the court building! For assistance looking for a legal job in Croydon please email a CV to Ten Percent Legal Recruitment at cv@ten-percent.co.uk.

House Prices

Housing in Croydon is somewhat interesting. The average price for a house is now £308,000, with terraced houses selling for £358k and semi-detached houses £439k in 2016 (according to Rightmove). In the year from 2015 to 2016 house prices rose by 15% as increasing numbers of Londoners seek more affordable houses and moved out into the suburbs.

In May 2016 Croydon had the dubious honour of being the top property hotspot for the UK due to the jump in house prices. It is still an area that people on normal salaries (ie outside the London city bubble) can afford to live and still get into the city centre within 35 mins. Croydon is about 10 miles from the City of London.

One bed maisonette in Croydon for £210,000
In 1997 this one bed maisonette was sold for £44,000. In 2001 the price was £81,000. By 2016 the price had reached £210,000.