The day a flaming torch on London Road was a good thing

Once in a lifetime experience: people, young and old, on London Road strain for a better view as the Olympic Torch approaches

Yesterday’s visit of the Olympic Torch to Croydon was widely acclaimed as a terrific success, with thousands coming out on to the streets for what was only a briefest of glimpses of something which is supposed to symbolise the spirit of the Games.

After coverage of Patrick Stewart being beamed into Croydon, here, we publish further pictures, some taken by MARTIN STITCHENER, others contributed by Inside Croydon’s loyal reader

ANDREW PELLING reports on the scenes on London Road

If ever there was a poignant route for the Olympic flame to take, it was down a London Road that 12 months ago was aflame in a much less happy fashion.

The crowds, on the warmest day of the year, were joyous.

Residents were out in their thousands on the road which had been the centre of so much violence, hatred and destruction almost a year ago.

Now locals were cheering the Olympic flame through a community that local people have begun to rebuild after last August’s riots.

A strong police presence included one of London 2012’s mascot dolls enjoying the breeze on the drive into Waddon

This was truly an upbeat celebration of the people.

Abbe Stapleton is encouraged on her relay leg by the close attending police protection detail

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Croydon, Eddy Arram, was holding an invitation-only event back in the town.

A bit like on the night of the riots, local policing was concentrated on the town centre with 24 officers turning left into the town centre from West Croydon.

There were police though with the flame procession keeping the crowd re-assured that the torch’s arrival was imminent.

Mike Fleet, the former international middle distance runner who has coached for Croydon Harriers for nearly half a century, handed over to Abbe Stapleton against the backdrop of the demolished mansions burnt on 8/8.

Disappointingly few of the torch bearers in Croydon actually had links with the area, though, while even the nomination statements for the others were often vague and vacuous about quite why they were given such an honour.

Some “entertainment” was provided along the route – here by the Waddon pub – though the purpose of the guy on a scooter..? Answers on postcards, please, to “Pointless Sponsor Stunts”, c/o a High Street Bank the nation owns, No11 Downing Street

One had “been brought up in Mexico”, though it was left unexplained what this had to do with the price of fish; another is a senior executive for Chinese state TV; another an employee of a London 2012 sponsor; one was a sports club officer from West Wickham who, as well as volunteering, also has “a full-time job” (as if there are not hundreds of sports club officials from Croydon who fit that bill); while one other was “a part of Coca-Cola’s efforts to bring the Games to life in celebration of youth”. Ah, yes. That’s the Real Thing.

The torch’s entourage included golden coloured cars (supplied by one of the sponsors) and coaches carrying the runners to their relay points

The good-natured crowds pressed in as if on a narrow Tour de France climb. Stapleton seemed quite overwhelmed by the occasion as she was encouraged on by a police officer runner.

Yes this was an emotional occasion for all as the Olympic flame marked a time that London Road is starting to thrive again.

Star (Trek) turn: Sir Patrick Stewart was the celebrity runner lined up by the organisers for the Croydon stage, duly humbled by the occasion, and his leg timed for the convenience of lunchtime news bulletins

  • Send us your pictures from the Torch Relay in Croydon. Email to

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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
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1 Response to The day a flaming torch on London Road was a good thing

  1. croydonite says:

    I had to stop myself booing the Coca-Cola truck. The spirit of the Games is drowning in corporates who are avoiding tax and insisting on their logos plastered everywhere. Most revolting is the Lloyds TSB sponsorship, a bank who got bailed out by the taxpayers, pays huge bonuses to its directors, very little interest to savers and now wasting more of its customers’ money.

    Research is also now showing that the Games are unlikely to leave much of a legacy or encourage anyone who is not between 7-11 to take up sport. So we would have been much better funding sports partnerships in schools which does actually work, but which has been cut due to the austerity cuts.

    Having said that, I am very much looking forward to the Olympics, or at least what it really represents.

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