You wait 100 years for one tourist walk in an area, then three come along together.
Once again, it appears that a South Norwood community group is about to lock horns with a well-funded organisation backed by local councillor Paul Scott, in what threatens to see an outbreak on the streets of SE25 akin to “ice cream wars”, the turf wars in Glasgow in the 1970s between organised crime gangs over the lucrative rights to ice cream van routes.
Earlier this month, the anarchic South Norwood Tourist Board, after extensive fund-raising efforts over many months, announced the very first minibus tour of the area for June 12. It involves not one sight-seeing route with specially trained guides, but two routes.
“They said it couldn’t be done,” said Ian Bone, one of the organisers. “They scoffed that there was nothing to see in South Norwood. They were so very wrong.”
The SNTB tourist minibus will pick up for a tour of London’s Lake District from the front of Norwood Junction Station, heading off to visit South Norwood Lake, the Country Park Lake, Brickfields Meadow and Heavers Meadow.
At the same time, a guided walk will leave to look at the engineering and railway firsts visiting the world’s first reinforced concrete subway, the world’s first flyover, the Sensible Garden and the biggest cycle wheel in the world.
Both trips will return to the station by 2pm, where there will be a swap over and tourists can visit the sites they missed.
But this week, the SNTB organisers were initially horrified when they learned that the council-funded People for Portland Road group – which has Councillor Scott among its leading trustees – has brought in renowned local historian John Hickman to lead another walk on the very same day.
“Can it be mere coincidence that this date was announced the day after our own announcement of June 12?” a visibly shocked Bone told Inside Croydon.
Reports that the Tourist Board might be offering official T-shirts to participants in its tours as an incentive to sign-up have yet to be confirmed.
Bone, meanwhile, is clearly ready for any challenge. “We welcome this development, because both walks will have to up their game and leave the choice to the punters – either way, the walks will be the most exciting in London,” he said.
“Bring it on.”
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