Ruskin Square serves up another vacuous ‘installation’

Entirely unprompted by Big Eric Pickles, our loyal reader has been in touch, and attached a heart-warming picture from one of the iconic venues of Croydon heritage.

The scene outside Croydon Minster on a summer Sunday in 2014

The scene outside Croydon Minster on a summer Sunday in 2014

The picture above was taken yesterday.

“Seeing as our council’s glorious website appears to have no facility for reporting general litter mess I thought I’d send this delightful photo to you,” writes our loyal reader.

“As you can see it’s a charming scene of the Minster precincts in all their glory, complete with a liberal scattering of tasteful decorations.

“However, in order to really set-off the beauty of one of Croydon’s most venerable buildings, may I suggest that someone also adds a pile of tyres, an old fridge and possibly a front car bumper too?”

That, of course, is not something Inside Croydon could possible encourage.

StrawberiesMeanwhile, across Surrey Street, on the other side of the £1 billion Hammersfield site and over the six-lane urban motorway that bisects the centre of our town, Croydon Council and the Whitgift Foundation’s favourite PR spinners “Grey” Label have been spending goodness knows how much cash on turning a public walkway beside East Croydon Station into some sort of big screen, open air venue, offering burgers, “strwberies [sic] and cream”, and the chance to watch Wimbledon tennis.

This installation opened at noon today. The Wimbledon tennis championships began one week ago.

Called “Platform Ruskin Square”, this “pop-up space” is apparently an effort by developers Stanhope-Schroders to deflect from the demolition of the Warehouse Theatre and the absence of any real building development on their site, previously known as the “Croydon Gateway” adjacent to the walkway from the station’s Bridge to Nowhere’s sole exit. Money from the Riot Recovery Fund has already been wasted to celebrate this incomplete piece of urban engineering.

Nearly a decade after first clearing the site, building work, Stanhope-Schroders had said, would finally begin in 2013… Eventually, a planning application was filed, and approved, in March this year for a 20-storey apartment block and 9-storey plinth building, something much more modest than the originally intended prestige glass tower of offices.

It is noted, though, that in the middle of the cricket season, the previous art “installation” of over-sized cricket nets that occupied some of the site through the dark winter nights, seem to be coming down. Another example of a triumph of PR style over substance. Were the nets ever really put to use?

Platform Ruskin Square has already been declared a great success by Grey Label’s bought-and-paid-for members of the Croydon Glee Club, who appear to specialise in championing pointless vacuousness. The owners of nearby pubs and cafes, struggling to attract lunchtime trade, must be delighted at having this latest competitive distraction foisted upon them.

Established local business-owners may also point out that while such installations may have worked to attract custom and create a positive “vibe” in other, more fashionable parts of London, such as Canary Wharf and Shoreditch, the local authorities there have at least first ensured that people don’t have to wade through off-putting, ankle-deep crap elsewhere else in the neighbourhood to get to them.

We asked the PR spinners how much had been spent on this project, how permanent it might be, and whether it would continue once the construction work begins in earnest. We’ll report back their answers, if they ever manage to respond.

Below is the scene at Platform Ruskin Square around noon today, as the Croydon public “flocked” to use the facilities. It began to rain shortly afterwards…

Platform Ruskin Square


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1 Response to Ruskin Square serves up another vacuous ‘installation’

  1. Sadly that picture of the Minster environs is all too typical. What makes it worse for me is that the fading notices on the lamp posts, about it being a no-drinking zone, are routinely ignored by the council, police and the winos, with the resulting evidence of the latter’s presence all too plain to see.

    The absence of litter bins and enforcement action against McDonalds and their customers, who treat it as an al fresco diner, means that an area that should showcase the best of Croydon, instead looks distinctly what Winston McKenzie would accurately describe as “a dump”.

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