When Croydon homes inspired lyricism from England’s poets

John Betjeman, left, and Philip Larkin. They may have had something to say about flats in office blocks

CROYDON COMMENTARY: First we mentioned Philip Larkin, then Alan Bennett.
Now GEORGE WRIGHT reminds us that the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman once had something to say, in verse, about Croydon. And he was never as horrible about the town as he was about Slough

While we are in poetic mode, I wonder what the late Sir John Betjeman would make of consigning people into converted office blocks to live?

Slough seemed quite civilised by comparison when in 1937 he wrote,

“Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now”

Sadly, he also wrote, in the same year, of the disappearance of a Croydon that was once managed to be both more human and humane.


In a house like that your Uncle Dick was born
Satchel on back he walked to Whitgift every weekday morn
Boys together in Coulsdon woodlands, bramble-berried and steep
He and his pals would look for spadgers, buried deep
The laurels are speckled in Marchmont Avenue, just as they were before
But the steps are dusty that still lead up, to your Uncle Dick’s front door
Pear and apple in Croydon Gardens bud and blossom fall
But your Uncle Dick has left his Croydon once and all.

It seems to me that this Croydon has left Uncle Dick.

I doubt any children in converted office blocks will see much fruit blossom in their lives.

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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