Pumped and primed ready for opening day

Tomorrow marks the grand opening of Matthews Yard, the café and co-working space just off Surrey Street.

The Surrey Street Pumping Station: Matthews Yard stands in the shadow of this spectacular piece of architecture, off Croydon's historic street market

Founder SAIF BONAR has been working round-the-clock to get the venue finished, but has taken some time out to offer this progress report on the work required to launch a new business in post-riots Croydon

We’re delighted to finally open our doors for business.

If you’re in the Surrey Street area on Saturday, April 21, shopping or visiting the St George’s Day celebration event, please do call in. We’d be delighted to show you around the facilities and there will be cut-price coffee for all who visit.

If you’ve read my previous reports on Inside Croydon, you’ll know it’s been a long, hard slog to get to this point. Funding the venture has been a challenge and I have also had to tackle much of the building work myself with only a skeleton staff to assist. This hasn’t been easy as it’s involved completely refurbishing a derelict 300 sq metre basement, installing an air conditioning system and new electricity supply.

In addition, I’ve had to familiarise myself with various building regulations, food and hygiene regulations and so on. Croydon Council has been supportive and helpful throughout. We’ve even had a visit from the chief executive, Jon Rouse, to find out more about what we’re doing.

There have been high points along the way. One that stands out was hosting the Understanding Old Town event at the end of March. The aim of this event, which was organised by the Council and the Prince’s Foundation, was to find out how people living in Croydon would like to see the Old Town developed.

At the time, the building work was at its height. There wasn’t plaster on the walls and we had no working toilets. Despite this, we had more than 100 people visit, many of them wishing us luck and promising to visit again at a later date.

It was really encouraging to see the goodwill that many in Croydon have in Matthews Yard and it certainly lifted morale.

There have been lows as well, the main one being an attempted break-in. Thankfully the would-be thieves failed, but it was a headache I could have lived without.

Positioned as we are, next to the Folly, just off Surrey Street, it is important that as many people as possible get to know where we are, and realise that we will be the sort of place to drop in for coffee, or consider using for their work. So we very much hope to see you tomorrow at our official launch.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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