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We at the South Norwood Tourist Board recognise that skyscrapers represent the true pinnacle of humanity’s collective achievement, nowhere more succinctly summed up than by, world-renowned humanitarian, Donald Trump’s response to the 9/11 tragedy, “40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan… And now it’s the tallest.”

With that in mind we can only applaud the vision of Croydon Council to approve plans for the second tallest building in Britain. With the Shard being a good 15 minutes away by train, there is obviously a desperate need for another building that “can be seen from Piccadilly to Brighton” – and it in no way represents the latest installment in an ongoing willy-waving competition between planners, architects and property speculators. The current purple erection at Saffron Square stands only a measly 43 storeys and is clearly inadequate to attract the sort of thrusting business brains we need to keep Croydon on its current trajectory. Speaking in the Croydon Advertiser, David Hudson, Chief Executive of Guildhouse UK Limited, whose project, One Lansdowne will stand a massive 68 storeys high, said that the building will be “cheap and easy to build,” and embodied the values of Croydon as well as adding drama to the skyline.

Although we at the South Norwood Tourist Board had always imagined drama to be the last thing you would want when you are 68 storeys high, we are nonetheless inspired by Croydon’s vision to reimagine the white heat of technology through the wet dreams of an international property speculator. That is why we will be petitioning Croydon Council to give South Norwood our very own skyscraper on the site of the old Portmanor pub, which has for too long been left abandoned. And, in contrast to others, we are not shy about admitting that Number One South Norwood, or Todger Tower as it will be known, will be an unashamedly phallic symbol. Unlike One Lansdowne’s twin or hemipenes design, common among snakes and reptiles, we will go for the traditional phallic tower, casting its proud shadow over visitors arriving from London. As tourists flock from The Shard down to Lansdowne Road they will be undoubtedly be overcome by a primal urge to stop off at Norwood Junction and join locals as we dance around Todger Tower, celebrating the fertility which keeps our schools full to over-flowing.

Should the tower be built, which should happen at around the same time as Croydon Westfield opens for business, we will also be inviting visitors to share in the spectacle of our Esbat or full moon ceremonies. On the occasion of each and every full moon we will shoot fireworks at the Moon from the tip of Todger Tower. As a result of this symbolic insemination, the goddess Selene will fill the world with lunatics. Indeed, we have a strong suspicion that this may already be happening.

Artists Impression Of Todger Tower

Artists impression of Todger Tower at full moon

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Batman

When Batman came to South Norwood,
To start with we thought it’d be good,
To have our very own superhero,
Keeping cash machines free of loitering weirdos,
Patrolling the streets and protecting commuters,
From the nefarious schemes of the kids on their scooters,
But sad to say, our joy didn’t last,
All that superhero worship faded quite fast,
See it’s not just the actor who bawled out his cast,
Seems like Batman himself is a bit of a bastard,
He beat up this bloke and stuck his head down the shitter,
Which seemed a bit harsh for just dropping litter,
And the kid tagging walls, he won’t do it again,
Not even after the hospital have retrieved his pen,
He spied on the barbers cos “they were up to something,”
And a dog with loose bowels got a right bloody lumping,
He intimidated joggers who strayed off the path,
And set upon kids who were just having a laugh,
And finally it all came to a head,
When he confronted the old woman who fed the ducks bread,
“They prefer seeds and corn,” he muttered with a frown,
We found her the next morning, floating, face down,
We all met up down The Portland and said this ain’t right,
He’s uptight and judgmental – and spoiling for a fight,
And there’s not so much that we need to put right,
That we can’t get by without this Dark Knight,
It’s clear to us all that he’s no Adam West,
Camping it up in his pants and his vest,
He’s a violent vigilante – and at best,
He’s acting out some trauma that’s been too long repressed,
So we sent him packing – and Batgirl and Robin,
Off down to Croydon saying, “Boxpark can have him!”
And so judge not – lest you be judged yourself,
By a man dressed in rubber with a bit too much wealth,
As for us in South Norwood, I guess we’ll recover, 
We’ll just have to start looking out for each other.
P Dovey 2017

“Borrowed” from:

http://deserter.co.uk/2016/10/deep-south-norwood/

Deep South Norwood

goat-1

We’d been meaning to come to South Norwood for some time, drawn by the South Norwood Tourist Board’s mantra: ‘Celebrating what others fail to see’. It could be a motto for all of South London.

But it was the opening of the new Antic pub, the Shelverdine Goathouse that finally got us off our arses for the 13-minute journey from London Bridge to Norwood Junction. Antic, too, celebrate areas where Pubcos fear to tread. We were going to get on fine.

Excessive yoga
Excessive yoga

I started at Coffee Craft, the sweet caff in the lovely Edwardian venue, the Stanley Halls. With its film club, performances, excessive yoga and upcoming CAMRA beer festival, you could say Stanley Halls is the cultural heart of Norwood. It’s named after William Stanley, a noted local inventor, architect and philanthropist (plus painter, writer, musician and photographer). Back in the day, geniuses used to try their hand at anything they enjoyed; there was no barrier between the practical and the creative. Nowadays our best and brightest tend to stick to one discipline, though to be fair, singer Cheryl Cole does have her own perfume and shower gel.

But if Stanley Halls is the heart, then the Sensible Garden could be considered its soul.

Neat, neat, neat
Neat, neat, neat

The Sensible Garden is the brainchild of the SNTB, whose other fine work includes a failed attempt to get Norwood Junction station renamed Norwood Intergalactic. The SNTB, with the help of the community, turned a derelict piece of land on the high street into a green space in which to pause, be seated and enjoy a little can of what-you-fancy. The Sensible Seat, the world’s first park bench to be named after a punk, was unveiled by Captain Sensible himself two years ago. The solo artist and co-founder of punk legends, The Damned, went to school over the road and later went on to form The Blah! Party, whose policies included stopping the Iraq War and making John Prescott lose weight.

After sitting on this nobly reclaimed land awhile, it was time for a stroll in the fresh air and green pastures South Norwood is known for (possibly). There’s a lovely walk around South Norwood Lake and Grounds – a remarkable beauty spot that even some locals are yet to discover. The lake has several timber platforms dotted around it for anglers to spend the day in solitude with their maggots. They’re equally tempting for a toke with a view, if you like that sort of thing. However, I’d arranged to meet Half-life at the South Norwood Country Park, the area’s other green expanse, with the express purpose of playing an 18-hole game of pitch and putt on its lovingly tended course.

A lake
Very much a lake

The walk to the park revealed a virtual graveyard of closed down pubs and a surfeit of pebbledash. The park itself has been through many changes over the years: From part of the Great North Wood, to ancient moated house, to sewage farm, it is now a real slice of the countryside, with no building in sight for most of its 125 acres and nature running amok, willy-nilly.

‘Thank fuck for the car noise,’ said Half-life of the distant sound of traffic. It is comforting being reminded you are not in the actual country and are only minutes from speed bumps, wifi and artisan olives. ‘What is a sewage farm anyway?’ he went on. ‘Aren’t we all sewage farms in a way?’

The park is now a glorious wilderness, but sadly, infuriatingly, the pitch and putt was closed, without explanation or indication of when it would open. Shit, being closed for no reason was taking this country imitation too far. I wouldn’t have minded so much but it was too early for the pub. What the fuck were we supposed to do with ourselves? It’s no wonder country people are forever stabbing horses in the arse for fun.

You could easily get lost in the Country Park and indeed we did, immediately, which at least lent us some purpose. When we found our way again we had to cross a tram line to get to the streets. It gave us that exciting sense of danger you get in the country, where you’re never entirely sure you’re not about to be eaten by a larger animal, like a wild boar or a farmer.

On the way to the pub, we ran into another pub. The Albert Tavern is a pleasant enough backstreeter that shows all the football and has a Sunday meat raffle. I love the idea of going to the pub to win dinner. Unfortunately my ale had more floaters than Tony Soprano’s pond, so we didn’t hang around. We headed to the Gold Coast, South Norwood’s West African pub. We’d just stopped for Guinness but the smell from the garden’s grill persuaded us to try the chef’s special: Chicken with rice and black-eyed peas. Flavourful and spicy, it was a real treat and a departure from most pub fare. This you don’t get in the country.

London's southernmost pub
London’s southernmost pub

From there we travelled to the southernmost London pub of all time, the Joiners Arms. That is to say, the pub nearest the equator with a London post code. Beyond it is Croydon, a mysterious world from where few travellers have returned. The Joiners feels every bit as country as the park. Almost every inch of wall and ceiling is covered with ephemera, from horse brasses to stuffed birds. It’s dark, welcoming and cosy. Just a shame they didn’t have more than Doom Bar on, or we could have seen out the winter there.

We paused in Brickfields Meadow (a meadow on the site of an old brickworks) for a smoke in the children’s play area and pondered the significance of the concrete mini-maze like addled mystics.

By the time we arrived back at the Junction, it was still too early for the Antic pub to be open (don’t get me started), so we popped in the Cherry Tree, another ‘half a Guinness’ pub – a pub with either no ale, or ale you don’t trust. It’s Polish-run but nonetheless rather patriotic, with St George much in evidence. The regulars seemed a decent bunch, but Half-life watched in awe as a woman punched another woman in the face after she’d refused to let her assailant touch her hair.

In the garden there’s a mural of a Crystal Palace eagle smiting a Brighton seagull, reflecting one of football’s more mysterious rivalries. It’s thought it began, or at least intensified, in 1974/5 when the two teams, managed by Terry Venables and Alan Mullery respectively, played each other five times in one season. In a second FA Cup replay, the referee, Ron Challis, subsequently known as ‘Challis of the Palace’, ordered Brighton to retake a successful penalty because Palace players had encroached in the area. It was saved and Palace won 1-0. Mullery went ballistic, especially after a Palace fan chucked hot coffee at him. He threw down some change, shouting that it was all Crystal Palace were worth. They’ve hated each other ever since, to the bemusement of the wider football world.

Ruffled feathers
The M23 derby

I had to drag Half-life away as the Shelverdine Goathouse was about to open. We arrived at 15 seconds past four and were beaten to the bar by about half a dozen punters. Clearly the thirst for a decent pub is strong here. Having been deprived of a good pint all day, we made our way through their range: Beatnik, Signature Pale, Neck Oil and Jaipur, pausing between pints for a smoke up.

‘See you in 20 minutes, boys,’ the barmaid winked. And there was us thinking we were being discrete.

Half-life accused me of slipping him acid after coming out of the gents screaming, ‘The goats, the goats!’

He calmed down when I told him I’d seen the pictures on the wall of people with goats’ heads too. Something about the combination of Victorian refinement and cloven-hoofed weirdness freaked me the fuck out as well. It was probably the most powerful anti-drug message I’d ever seen. I tried not to look in their eyes and focus on the hands but my eyes were inexorably drawn to their spooky rectangular pupils. Worryingly, Half-life thanked me for making him feel normal.

Despite the exceptional ale array at the Goathouse, we sampled two other hospitable pubs nearby, the Albion, another solidly Palace and football pub (half a Guinness) and the Jolly Sailor (half a Guinness), so we could catch a game. Norwood’s first railway station was named the Jolly Sailor after the pub, a naming convention that we heartily approve of.

‘They should name all stations after pubs,’ suggested Half-life.

‘It would mean a lot of Kings Arms, et cetera, if you named stations after pubs. You wouldn’t necessarily know where you were.’ I said, like a bore.

‘You’d be in a pub. Who gives a fuck where you are?’ concluded Half-life.

Squint and it's Paris
Squint and you’re in Paris

We stayed a little longer as the welcoming hosts at the Sailor let Half-life order in Thai food (and chips). It had been a long day, but afterwards he wanted to go back to the ‘good pub’. I assumed he meant the Goathouse, another Antic success story, doing a thriving business with customers they weren’t even sure existed until they opened their doors. But from my bus window I saw him turn towards the Cherry Tree, possibly in hope of finding a nice girl with a criminal record for the night.

There was an application to open a late bar near Norwood Junction station in evidence. Along with the Goathouse, the Joiners, the Gold Coast and committed campaigns to reopen the lovely old Ship and Portmanor pubs, it’s easy to see South Norwood ‘happening’. It’s got a diverse community with a sense of civic pride and we all know the arrival of fine beer foreshadows enlightenment. It might have some rough edges but how else can you be sure you’re not in the country?

The deafening silence IS being questioned .

An open letter has been written demanding action from our elected representatives, PLEASE SIGN as the more people behind it the louder the message becomes until it cannot be silenced.

An Open Letter to Croydon Council and MP’s

Whilst I’ve no doubt that meeting swill be called, consultations organised, promises made but within 10 years nothing will have changed apart from the feeling you have been cheated; therefore it is essential that results are the only evidence we accept as commitment to our improving our area. Keep in mind that democracy becomes irrelevant if ‘public meetings’ are used simply as a tool to enhance the illusion that the community were consulted and concurred!

Two quotes from Abraham Lincoln commenting on his own position of power, sprang to mind after reading the letter:

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

South Norwood has a rich wonderful wonderful history, matched only by the diverse character and culture of the community.

..complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Lets ensure that South Norwood is developed for the benefit of the current community and not to make space for people whose disposable monthly income is higher than the average yearly wage!

The letter reads:

South Norwood is stuck – there is talk of regeneration all while the main high streets are being decimated by ugly conversions of shops to flats. We would like Croydon Council to suspend planning permissions for such conversions on Portland Road for two years and to heavily penalise shop owners who go ahead with these conversions before planning permission has been given.

There appears to be a habit of shop owners seeking unrealistically high rent to prove that they can’t rent the shops. We also ask Croydon Council to engage with the shop owners to keep rent at a realistic level so that the many keen small business in the area can start to revitalise the flagging High Street and Portland Road instead of being priced out of the area or forced to run online only business.

In 2014 Emertons The Ironmonger in Station Road was paying £90 for a street trading licence so they could display stock on the street, but 2015 it was £900 and this year £1500. The rise of the licence to £1,500 is simply too much for a small businesses to afford. We ask that  Croydon Council return the licences for Emertons and the Clock Tower Green Grocer and other South Norwood businesses display stock on the street back to the previously affordable 2014 rates.

We would also like to see the same conservation status given to Market Parade extended further down Portland Road to cover the shops down to Dundee Road so a new hub area can generate around the Leisure Centre and Doctors’ Surgeries.

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Croydon council
  • Gavin Barwell & Steve Reed
  • Shadow Minister for Diverse Communities
    Dawn Butler

Sign to show your support to demand change but shaped by people who currently reside here.

https://www.change.org/p/croydon-council-save-south-norwood?tk=HDCL4CcNQrfPvRWCOK6Gj1mbBkGVOwlMIHwckl97fEI&utm_medium=email&utm_source=signature_receipt&utm_campaign=new_signature

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This week we have heard Emertons, the Ironmongers by the station will probably be closing soon, the landlords increasing yearly rent by 50% and council increasing a permit by approx 1000%, which will be applied to any business in Croydon who dare to put anything on the pavement. Is it necessity or simple greed, bullying those business’s by forcing their hand if they want to stay in business. Don’t take our word, go and have a chat with them, understand how ‘policy’ affects real people and not some statistic.

Change is inevitable, cannot be stopped and is continuous, but when it is greed that is beginning to force change with haste but define it’s shape – with the detrimental effect on the community being outweighed by cash.

Have you noticed communication explaining how our communities are going to improve in another year of austerity, is deafening from the council, with us all being aware and a complete understanding of the council’s policy and attitude towards:

  • Encouraging new business’s to consider South Norwood as a new location,
  • How they are helping existing business to continue trading
  • Progress of clean up and how fly tipping lis being tackled and it’s condemnation enforced.
  • Their aims in tackling the housing shortage whilst ensuring all property meets current statutory standards and has all the necessary permissions, and how unscrupulous landlords are forced to comply and what enforcements are being used to enforce.
  • Their positive approach to increasing the shortfall of homes by negotiating with landlords about capping rent and encouraging long tenure contracts. and negotiations with owners of empty properties within the borough.

You haven’t heard, no neither has SNTB; South Norwood has 6 councillors, elected to represent South Norwood’s community and it’s needs, but over the last 3 years the silence has been deafening. Has community focus been taken over by the party line – Labour haven’t represented the working classes for years but now it’s only aim appears to be to stay in power by any means necessary.

You hear the occasional positive – free rent for a year for potential business’ but then it is uncovered how the council have just increased the charge for business’ who have products on the pavement, £150 per annum approx but now increased in line with greed and exploitation to £1,500 approx – stand and deliver or just close down.

We appreciate Council’s are being squeezed, services being cut with the owners being put more and more on community volunteering and then using the excuse that there is no need to employ someone as the community do it.

Yes it’s good to be involved in your community but not at the expense of people’s jobs, just as charity is pushed on the good nature of the public so Governments don’t have to pay anything and can take the VAT off as additional tax. Always question the answers as all is not what is seems.

The reasoning behind the new charge to shops is to create more revenue for the council, but surely it’s common sense that rather than pushing independent traders further towards packing up, start enforcing building / planning infringements, fining fly tippers, or is it that Croydon Council has no teeth, simply barking at those who will tug their fur lock but doing nothing about those whose actions are detrimental, including ignoring letters with a two fingered salute.

I could be completely wrong and everything I have questioned is actually happening but for some reason our elected representatives cannot communicate this; the logical implication from council’s silence is that they could be potentially creating new revenue streams by developing contacts  with new property developers ready and waiting to take over empty shops with no fear from enforcement notices if corners cut; misguided or exploitative the results are the same.

SNTB are encouraging the community to question everything, transparency and truth are the order of the day; if all is good then there is no need not to inform people. Rather than getting bogged down in meetings just take a look around, is our area developing forward or regressing? What exactly is being done and the timescales for it.

What’s he building in there?

What’s he building in there?

What the hell is he building

In there?

He has subscriptions to those

Magazines He never

waves when he goes by

He’s hiding something from

the rest of us He’s all

to himself I think I know

why He took down the

tire swing from the Peppertree

He has no children of his

Own you see He has no dog

and he has no friends and

his lawn is dying and

what about all those packages

he sends. What’s he building in there?

with that hook light

on the stairs. What’s he building

in there I’ll tell you one thing

he’s not building a playhouse for

the children what’s he building

in there?

Now what’s that sound

from under the door?

He’s pounding nails into a

hardwood floor and I

swear to god I heard someone

moaning low and I keep

seeing the blue light of a

T.V. show

He has a router

and a table saw and you

won’t believe what Mr. Sticha saw

There’s poison underneath the sink

of course But there’s also

enough formaldehyde to choke

a horse What’s he building

in there. What the hell is he

building in there? I heard he

has an ex-wife in some place

called Mayors Income, Tennessee

and he used to have a

consulting business in Indonesia

but what is he building in there?

What the hell is he building in there?

He has no friends

but he gets a lot of mail

I’ll bet he spent a little

time in jail

I heard he was up on the

roof last night

signaling with a flashlight

and what’s that tune he’s

always whistling

What’s he building in there?

What’s he building in there?

We have a right to know

Tom Waits

….and so it came to pass, that after being told continuously that the unique Sensible Garden (the first park bench to be named after a punk, who still on this mortal coil), we are gathering to celebrate it’s 2.33(rpm!) birthday. With no committees, guardians, ‘friends of’ or anything involving a bureaucratic process, coupled with a militant attitude against anyone fly tipping – the community have constantly, consistently attended to maintain it’s appearance and continue to encourage it’s growth. When you pass you may see a few regulars sitting on the benches enjoying lunch, or a glass or two of their favourite tipple, the garden is for use by all to relax and enjoy watching the world go by, whilst safely in the arms of a Sensible environment where all are equal

sens_robbie

The toast is also going to be very special, as we are raising a glass to Robbie, all wishing his safe return. It was Robbie himself who unveiled the Sensible Seat with the Captain himself, and was instrumental in the hard work and motivation to all who contributed, whilst immediately understanding SNTB and contributing to the whole tone of the garden’s creation.

It is now four months since Robbie was last seen, but we are all still hopeful and looking forward to more evenings of swapping inspirational tall stories, whilst drinking a few but above all….laughing until it hurts.

As a reminder to our call for Robbie to safely return to his family and friends, the adjacent bench (The Sensible Seat’s Sister!) has been given a facelift and will be unveiled.

The personal statement from Ian below, sums up how SNTB feel:

Missing Robert – ‘cos he was a kindred spirit – he ‘got’ the Tourist Board from the start – he knew it was 50% hokum – and the other half bloody mindedness. There was no ‘can we do this – like renaming the lake’ – just a ‘of course we bloody can.

The Sensible Garden was perfect for him – ‘do we know who owns the land?’ No! Good – lets do it.

One day Robbie was heaving some vast filthy tarpaulin from the brambles. Ah I cried ‘a downed zeppelin skin no doubt’ Straight away Robbie was displaying the ‘zeppelin number’ to a local zeppelin expert who just happened to be passing – hello Jason.

Then it took off – it turned out a zeppelin had indeed been downed near the station – experts argued over the numbers on the skin – from Germany. The lettering was wrong – no said another it may have been on a secret mission.

Yes that was definitely the case me and Robbie concurred over a pint or two. – it was a secret mission.

Miss you Robbie.

Please come and share the laughter. We will all meet at 6:30 at the Sensible Garden for a toast and unveiling and then onto the ‘Shelvie Goaty’, to continue our drinking and talking bollocks – a night Robbie would love!

Robbie1

 

 

 

 

wetland-wader-fundrasierAs those who have followed SNTB from the start, the Country Park has been a key part of us promoting all that is wonderful about South Norwood, as well as being used for a variety of our ‘events’. Who can forget the Battle of Lake Conan; SNTB vs Croydon Council, regarding the naming of the lake. Again the power of community won, defying the council and over 100 people strong witnessed a unique event.

The Friends Of South Norwood Country Park have returned with vengeance to ensure our jewel in the crown remains untouched and like a phoenix from the ashes, flying above it to ensure it’s natural state remains, enhancing and repaired where necessary and appropriate.

However, as with everything, funds are required to ensure all aspects of the park are maintained, so please support the events below, however you can:

Friends of South Norwood Country Park Wetlands for Waders Project

John Hickman and Carole Roberts will give a local history talk on the John Gent Postcards collection on Friday 14 October at 7.30 pm at Oasis Academy Arena, Albert Road. Attendance is free but donations towards the project will be welcomed.

“The John Gent Postcards Collection allows us an amazing peek into the Croydon, including South Norwood, of the past – not only in pictures, but also in messages sent to family and friends a hundred years ago. We will be briefly looking into how the collection of over 12 500 postcards was catalogued, and then delving into the treasures it contains.”

Friends of South Norwood Country Park are seeking donations for their newest project ‘Wetlands for Waders’ which will encourage different waders and waterfowl to the park. Working with the park wardens they hope to provide wader scrapes which will imitate natural hollows where water will collect. This will help to support high volumes of insects which feed birds and amphibians & will encourage plant species which benefit water voles. The scrapes can be designed to hold surface water and act as important wet features in their own right and can be used to channel water to the centre of fields. They are hoping to install a couple of long linear drains to feed a network of half a dozen scrapes. This work is supported by Croydon Council’s Environmental Services and the Water for Wildlife Manager from the Wildlife Trust. They expect that this work will cost in the region of £1,000 – £1,500.

The above says it all – once complete South Norwood will be home to an even bigger jewel!!