The story of how Croydon evolved through time will be told through a week-long festival this summer.
As the town embarks on the most significant era of redevelopment since the 1960s, the fifth Croydon Heritage Festival looks at how Croydon has evolved to become the place that it is today. The many activities and performances will take place between June 24 and June 30, with the headline event, called Croydon’s Evolution, taking place on 26. The National Trust has also brought back its Edge City tours for one day only – which it calls a “riposte to Croydon’s ‘Crap Town’ reputation” and were previously launched in line with the closure of Fairfield Halls last year. The journey is a tale of innovation – from Roman saffron farms to Tudor palaces, pioneering Victorians and concrete utopias – all the way through to the explosion of creative energy that the area is enjoying now. Organised by The Whitgift Foundation, festival highlights include a flagship discussion exploring the story of Croydon’s evolution in one evening; the return of the National Trust’s Edge City Walking Tours and an ‘Evolution of Games’ – an afternoon of retro gaming for all ages.
Martin Corney, chief executive of The Whitgift Foundation, said: “In our fifth year of celebrating Croydon’s heritage, this year’s festival theme of evolution is perfect for Croydon’s zeitgeist. Croydon is on the brink of metamorphosis, both culturally and economically, but it is important to reflect on all the events and people that have helped Croydon make its mark. Once again, Croydon’s community has come together to produce a compelling and fun way to remind us about our amazing town and the foundation is proud to be part of it.”
Other events include the Museum of London Archaeology Time Truck in North End, giving residents the opportunity to handle Saxon artefacts found in the local area, while a nearby a Saxon skeleton found under a Croydon driveway can be seen at Croydon Museum. The Croydon Classic Car Show will take place on June 25, while a theatre show, based on interviews with older residents about the evolution of entertainment in Croydon, is being shows at the Shoestring Theatre on June 28 and 29. Croydon Airport will open its doors on June 25 to tell the story of early air travel while ‘Amy Johnson: Last Flight Out’, a theatre show about the inspiring aviator who had many record-breaking flights from Croydon Airport, return. Local historians will also be giving talks about the destruction of Croydon Parish Church; talented artists in Norbury; the River Wandle, and the evolution of Coulsdon, Purley and Shirley Industries.
Joseph Watson, London creative director of the National Trust, said: “We launched the Edge City project in 2016 to explore how politics, place-making and pride have created the Croydon of today. The National Trust are excited to be partnering with Croydon Heritage Festival this year to continue the debate about what is special and cherished about Croydon – a place brimming with at least as much heritage, green space, and beauty as anywhere else.”
Croydon Heritage Festival 2017 includes activities for all ages, with the majority of events taking place over the Heritage Weekend of June 24 and 25. Many events at the festival are free but booking in advance is recommended. Detailed event information and ticket links can be found at www.croydonheritagefestival.co.uk.