Londonist website accuses Croydon of being boring… in 1896

Boring: the Croydon High Street plaque, as featured on Londonist.com

Londonist.com, which often takes a sideways glance at matters in and around the capital, has clearly enjoyed the produce of Surrey Street Market, or its ancient public house, the Dog and Bull, a little too much…

Someone at the website has alighted on the century-old plaque at the end of the street market and challenged Londoners with the provocative headline: “London’s dullest plaque?”

It is the much-overlooked plaque at the top end of Surrey Street, where it meets Croydon High Street.

In the grand old days of British Imperial grandeur, during the Victorian and Edwardian age, civic gestures in the form of statues and plaques, to commemorate heroes (rarely, if ever, heroines, except for the old Queen herself, gawd bless ‘er), or historic events, or some gesture of generosity from some rich benefactor, were popping up all over the place.

Here in Croydon, in 1896, we got a plaque in the town centre, not far from the (then relatively new) Town Hall which boasted of how the road had been widened “from a width of 29 feet to its present width of 50 feet”. Whoop-de-do.

Londonist might have a point

As Londonist’s Will Noble notes: “Frederick Thomas Edridge — five-times Mayor of Croydon — must have attended some uninspiring ribbon cuttings in his time. But the slight widening of a high street? That takes the biscuit.”

The thing is, as a piece of Victoriana, the plaque is a fine example, with an ornate Croydon civic coat of arms above the text, and all set into some robustly red brick work. It’s just the subject matter which is a bit, well, ho-hum.

For something which has been passed by commuters and shoppers for 122 years with barely an idle glance, the Croydon High Street plaque hardly ever features in any of the over-priced artwashing street art tours which are on offer to the unsuspecting. Odd that.

Londonist’s attention might just turn it into what they call “something of a niche Croydon tourist attraction”.

Even Inside Croydon gets a mention in the Londonist piece, as the source of information that, since the plaque was placed in its position, the road it celebrates as having been widened has been… narrowed. Freddie Edridge won’t have been pleased.

The article certainly created a (slight) stir on social media.

Croydon High Street in 1955, at its full Edridge 50 feet width

The Bishop of Croydon, no less, Jonathan Clark, chirped in on Twitter: “Important historical evidence that Croydon’s history of knocking buildings down to help the traffic is a long-term phenomenon.”

The Bish, after all, has Croydon’s parish church, the elegant and historic Croydon Minster, now set alongside a six-lane 1960s urban motorway.

Another response, from Canada, provided a photograph from 1955 which shows the High Street as it was then, the full Edridge 50 feet wide.

And, just as we suspect those cunning digital journos at the Londonist always wanted, others chipped in with their own suggestions for deeply dull plaques.

Like this one…

Yawn…

Case closed.


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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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5 Responses to Londonist website accuses Croydon of being boring… in 1896

  1. farmersboy says:

    Poised delicately at the epicenter of Croydon life where the Historic Quarter, the Art Quarter and the Restaurant Quarter come together the plaque represents Brick by Brick’s long term business plan…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris says:

    Oh blimey. I didn’t know the half price ticket booth had closed. It shows how often I go up West….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lewis White says:

    Why limit our Croydon ambitions to our own High Street?
    We need to go International now, I would suggest, with multi- twin town plaques across all Croydon’s current Twins, plus other new ones in Africa, Asia, Australia, both Americas, Micronesia, Antarctica, the Arctic landmasses, all current home nations of Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, N Ireland and the Isles of Wight, Sheppey, Thanet and Canvey, Shetland, Orkney, Skye, Rockall, Scillies, Channel Islands, and Hebrides (Inner and Outer) .

    Text to read (in 15 different languages, runes and pictographs) ” This plaque is one of several similar plaques in 15 countries twinned with Croydon (South London, England).
    That will really get the twitterati buzzing , Global side.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bernard Winchester says:

    The road widening in 1896 was part of the major reconstruction of the town centre in that year, as was the opening of the new, much grander, Town Hall in Katherine Street.

    We nearly lost the Whitgift Alms Houses in subsequent road widening schemes; they were only saved by in 1923 by the intervention of the House of Lords.

    Like

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