Tiger Tiger faces extinction as town centre closes down

Tiger Tiger, burning not so bright.

Endangered species: Tiger, Tiger

Endangered species: the Tiger Tiger night club on Croydon High Street

The Sadvertiser is reporting that one of Croydon town centre’s principal night clubs is to close this weekend, something which will be regretted only by those under 25 years old who cannot get served a cocktail for 7 quid in central London…

More worrying for those seeking to make millions from the “regeneration” of the town centre are the remarks of those associated with the venue, who say it has been operating in the “shadow of decline”.

The earnest comments reflect the reality of long-term and on-going decay in Croydon, something far removed from the message which is expensively put out there by the council’s PR spinners and their property developer mates about it being a happening place to be.

“It’s been a long time coming. Footfall in Croydon has gone down a lot. We’ve been in a shadow of decline,” said a senior management figure at the venue.

“We’re a really big venue, with such high rent, and we’re just not making the money we need to survive.

“Croydon’s been going down for ages. The footfall has gone down a lot,” the venue manager told the Sadvertiser. Footfall, for the unitiated, is the number of customers a shop or club might have.

Tiger follows into oblivion other large-scale venues nearby on the High Street – the Yates pub and Black Sheep bar. Both of the others have remained closed ever since, in the case of the Black Sheep because the offices in the building above it are being converted into rabbit-hutch flats marketed for the “lifestyle” central Croydon offers, and all starting from a tidy £260,000.

Tiger’s closure comes a matter of months before the town centre is to face almost complete shutdown for building works, as the bulldozers move in at both the Fairfield Halls and the Whitgift Centre.

The future of Tiger’s neighbours in the Grant’s building complex, the Wetherspoon’s-run Lloyd’s/Milan bar and the under-utilised multiplex cinema, may also be in some doubt. Westfield’s plans for a £1 billion shopping mall redevelopment includes a rival multiplex in the town centre, although this is unlikely to be ready to open this decade.

Tiger’s closure will be seen by some to reflect poorly on the Labour-run council’s decision to subsidise the development of Boozepark at East Croydon Station with a £3 million loan. The food and drinks outlets due to open in recycled shipping containers next to Ruskin Square will surely have influenced Tiger’s decision to shut up shop, and – more pressingly – will make it even harder for the property’s owners to find an alternative tenant for the large venue.

The Grants building – which includes the cinema, a health club, Tiger and the Wetherspoons pub – changed hands nine months ago, when multi-billion-pound investment company, Hermes Investment Management, paid £33 million for the listed former department store on the High Street, citing Croydon’s “regeneration potential”.

£32m-worth of real estate, the listed Grant's building, with the vast mulitplex cinema looming atop of it

£32m-worth of real estate, the listed Grant’s building, with the vast, modern mulitplex looming atop of it

A month later, Hermes had their cheque books out in Croydon again when they paid £36million for the “50p building”, or No1 Croydon, also known as the NLA Tower.

“Croydon town centre is undergoing significant regeneration with major new regional shopping and leisure facilities, enhanced public realm, new urban housing and excellent transport infrastructure,” Chris Taylor, the chief executive of Hermes Real Estate, said at the time. Since when, Hermes have been publicly silent about their strategy in Croydon, and how it might affect the businesses operating in the Grants building.

Coverage of Tiger Tiger’s demise in the local rags is sure to be full of sentimental laments for barely remembered Saturday nights out. Take one over-wrought example: “That’s like knocking down Big Ben in Westminster.” Well no, it’s not. At all.

The reality is somewhat different. Opened around 15 years ago, Tiger Tiger was often an after-hours refuge for office execs and suits, and it even hosted receptions for official council events – “Where will the council cabinet go dancing now?” one less-than-dismayed Katharine Street source asked this morning.

But Tiger was never regarded as fondly with the local youth as the more trend-setting Black Sheep Bar once was. Tiger’s busiest night of the week for some time has been the discounted entry student night on Thursdays. “We never went there for the club, we just went there because it was somewhere to go,” Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader said today.

“It was over-priced and just played generic dance music. It was never as good as the Black Sheep. And they always seemed to have to change their door staff because there were problems with over-aggressive bouncers.”

So, on the brightish side, the regular sight of police vans and several officers, doubtless on overtime and ready for “action”, on the High Street after midnight could be a thing of the past, at least for a while. As should be the pools of congealed vomit on the pavements nearby in the early hours of the morning after one of those nights before.

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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