The good burghers of Arnhem, Croydon’s twin town in the Netherlands, won’t be changing the name of Croydonplein, the residential square in the town centre, regardless of how the Fairfield Halls might discard part of this borough’s heritage by renaming the Arnhem Gallery as “the Croydon Wreck”.
The London Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands this week responded to the news, broken by Inside Croydon, that the venue operators of the Fairfield Halls have decided not to respect the borough’s lasting reminder of Croydon’s links with Arnhem, which stretch back to just after the end of World War II.
Arnhem was the site of a particularly bloody battle in 1944, when thousands of Allied paratroopers, including many from Croydon and London, lost their lives.
Neil Chandler is the former cruise liner entertainments manager who has been appointed as the venue chief at Fairfield Halls by BHLive, Croydon’s Labour-run council’s chosen operators. Chandler has revealed that he plans to abandon the name the “Arnhem Gallery” once a £30million refurbishment of the Halls is completed next year.
The Gallery area had taken its name from Arnhem as a permanent reminder of the links between the towns since the Fairfield Halls opened in 1962.
Chandler has suggested that somehow transferring the Arnhem association to the re-opened Fairfield Halls’ lobby area will be appropriate. The re-built area where the Arnhem Gallery stood is to be used for roller skating and live music, and re-titled as the “Croydon Wreck”.
Croydon Council, who own the Fairfield Halls and who are paying for the refurbishment programme, have made no announcement about the name change of the Arnhem Gallery.
The people of Arnhem, meanwhile, will not be following Croydon’s crass lead.
Croydonplein – Croydon Square – was so named to mark the relationship between the Dutch and English towns. Suitably, perhaps, it is a largely concrete area surrounded by unprepossessing, tall residential tower blocks.
Arnhem Council this week, according to a Dutch Embassy spokesperson, said “they really value the special bond with Croydon, a place from where they receive a delegation every year to commemorate their communal history and their long-standing ties.
“They appreciate that a gallery in Croydon carries the name Arnhem,” the Embassy spokesperson said, though declined to comment on what they described as “a local decision” that Arnhem Council should stay out off.
But they added: “Arnhem informed me that they have a Croydon Square (Croydonplein, in Dutch) and that they are not thinking of renaming that square.”
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