Croydon always reminds me of returning from a holiday. For me it represents that moment when you are back to London and its realities. You’ve flown into Gatwick, and after ten minutes of countryside, the train pushes into East Croydon station with its views of soulless 1960s office blocks, and you know that the grey indifferent city lies beyond.
I did an interview there recently with Croydon’s head of environment and sustainability Kia Colbeck. Her enthusiasm for the place and the initiatives that she is helping to push through there really impressed me. And one thing they are going to do is open up the river Wandle again. This is one of London’s many rivers, most of them now diverted underground, which flows into the Thames at Wandsworth. In Croydon, the river was culverted from 1840 after outbreaks of typhoid and cholera. Opening it up again now is a lovely idea.
In Croydon they are also pulling down some of the worst of the 1960s stuff, and increasing pedestrianisation, requiring local building developments to be more sustainable, and encouraging local businesses and its citizens to be greener.
It is a symptom of Croydon becoming more human. It is very heartening, and I came away feeling differently about Croydon after meeting Kia.