A big day on Saturday 17 March

To begin with, weather permitting, there’s a morning session at the Portland Road Community Garden, from 10am.

Then at 2.30pm there’s the launch of the latest addition to the PPR Heritage Trail.
The Dean of Winchester, Catherine Ogle, is coming all the way up to South Norwood to unveil a special plaque, designed by Ken Baker, on the exterior of 118 Portland Road, once the home of William Walker (1869–1918).

So who was this William Walker? Only the local man who saved Winchester Cathedral from collapse!

A professional deep-water diver, he spent more than five years propping up the cathedral’s water-logged foundations with concrete, working in total darkness in trenches as much as 6 metres deep, shifting thousands of bags of cement and concrete blocks. Heavy work, especially  wearing lead boots, a bulky diving suit and a huge round copper helmet. But he’d still find the energy to cycle the 70 miles home to his family in South Norwood at the weekend.

Walker has long been celebrated in Winchester, where they’ve even named a pub after him. Now, thanks to the sterling work of local historian John Hickman and designer Ken Baker, PPR is about to put Diver Bill on the South Norwood map.

We Love SE25

A Community Economic Development Plan for South Norwood

In June 2016, PPR applied for and won a modest grant that enabled us to develop what is known as a Community Economic Development Plan for South Norwood. Thousands of local groups bid for this. We were one of only 20 successful applicants!

The idea behind this is that local people work together with businesses and other ‘stakeholders’ like the council, to find ways of improving and regenerating the local area for local community. So often, when an area changes for the better this results in ‘gentrification’: many local people are then priced out and the area is totally changed. We want to improve South Norwood while protecting all the many good things about it.

One key way of doing this is encouraging more wealth generation that stays in the local area. This can be done through encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurs to set up new businesses and create new jobs. They could then occupy the empty shops that blight our local high streets. New and improved businesses will then encourage more local residents to shop, play and socialise locally, generating income for local businesses.

A working group was formed including local residents, councillors, businesses and representatives from Croydon Council. Under the banner ‘We Love SE25’ meetings were held at the Stanley Halls where a succession of conversations was held with residents and businesses, rather than any formal presentation. We also floated the idea of a community hub and asked for people’s ideas about what they’d like to see take place there. Surveys were completed both for residents and businesses to understand what was loved and what was wanted in South Norwood.

As of summer 2017, we are collating the information and putting together a ‘Plan for South Norwood’ and intend to carry on using our branding ‘We Love SE25’ as the recognisable logo of this activity.

You can read the final version of the plan here

Consultation meeting in Stanley Halls

Consultation meeting in Stanley Halls

We Love SE25 banner on display

We Love SE25 banner on display

Economic development plan title page

Economic development plan title page

South Norwood Country Park

South Norwood Country Park is an amazing and unique nature reserve with 125 acres of wetland, lakes and meadows, it is home to a huge array of plants and animals. We have the countryside on our doorstep in SE25!

Friends of South Norwood Country Park was formed in November 2014 to help maintain the park for the benefit of the plants and animals and to ensure the park is a place where all the community can enjoy nature.

They work closely with the park wardens and have monthly workdays on the second Saturday of each month, meeting at 10am at the Visitor Centre. They also hold regular wildlife walks throughout the year, looking at birds, bats or butterflies.

If you love this park, why not join the Friends of South Norwood Country Park? You can do this by going to their website

South Norwood Library Mosaic

Since April 2006, visitors to South Norwood Library and passers-by have been greeted by a mosaic artwork in the forecourt of the library. This was originally designed by Tamara Froud from Mosaic Art and inspired by the heritage of the area. The design was carried out working with local schools, community groups and members of the public. May Johnson, a local heritage expert, was on hand to advise and help with the design and commissioning.

Over the years, the mosaic had been badly damaged, not least by vehicles parking on it! So in 2014 discussions began between Tamara, local councillors and community groups with a view to repairing the damage. In September 2015 the repairs were finally completed, bringing the mosaic back to its former splendour. PPR was involved in these discussions and donated £500 to help pay for the repair. We also put pressure on the Council to ensure it was protected from vehicles in future!

South Norwood Library Mosaic

South Norwood Library Mosaic

Portland Road Railway Bridge

The railway bridge over the northern end of Portland Road creates beneath it a very poor quality public area, which is dark, unappealing and dirty. It has become a foreboding barrier dividing South Norwood into two halves.

Portland Road Railway Bridge

Portland Road Railway Bridge

Despite the current situation, the bridge has the potential to be transformed into positive linking space. This could form an important project within the wider South Norwood regeneration strategy. A comprehensive and unified project is required by Network Rail and Croydon Council, potentially with outside funding from the GLA and possibly other sources, to transform this space.
Our vision is to transform this negative urban space into an attractive gateway, linking Portland Road to the rest of the centre of South Norwood, through a public art installation-led public realm solution.
Once a viable project is established the designer/artist would be appointed. They will develop the initial designs which will be costed. Once all parties have signed off the initial scheme, the local community will be consulted on the development of the proposals. Given the approach of having a design-led approach, all creative thinking should remain the property and copyright of the artist until the project is completed.

Norwood Junction Station Planters

After London Overground took over the management of Norwood Junction station in 2010, the cleanliness and appearance of the station was much improved, and PPR proposed to the Overground that it set up and maintain planters on the platforms to further brighten up the experience of the many people who pass through the station.  The Overground agreed to fund the first two planters on platform 1, and PPR raised more funding to install and maintain planters on platforms 4/5 and 6.  This was made possible by PPR volunteers who built the planters, carted bags of compost and bought plants, as well as the team who continue to change the planting twice a year (funding needs to be ongoing), water and care for the plants every week.  People often comment, in person or online, that they enjoy seeing the planters, and this makes all the work involved very rewarding for us. We hope you enjoy seeing them too.

A newly built planter on platform 6

A newly built planter on platform 6

New season’s planting on platform 1, with volunteers who helped, November 2016

New season’s planting on platform 1, with volunteers who helped, November 2016

New season’s planting on platform 1, November 2016.

New season’s planting on platform 1, November 2016.

PPR Christmas Craft Fair

Held in November 2016 in the lovely setting of South Norwood Baptist church, the fair brought together artists and craftspeople from the local area, as well as the lovely Rose Bartlett playing vintage music, and Jacqui’s team cooking delicious treats in the kitchen. All the traders had handmade their goods, which included jewellery, bags, watercolours, cards, cushions, lanterns, decorations, baby accessories and much more.Kids had fun in a special kids’ area, with craft tables, toys and books. The fair raised £150, which PPR has donated to Croydon Council’s fund for victims of the recent tragic tram accident.

Apsley Road Playground

Through 2016, PPR raised funding to brighten up the well-used but unsightly playground in Apsley Road.  We held two work days, where groups of local residents, including a dozen young citizenship scheme volunteers, cleared overhanging vegetation, painted bright designs on the walls and decorated the wire fence with bright fluttering ribbons.

In March 2017 the playground was again transformed with fabulous street art. The work was organised by PPR, using funding from the local councillors’ delegated ward budget. We had help from Rob Swain of Gamma Proforma at 14 Portland Road, who introduced us to the artist, Will Barras.

The work took all day, and children from Oasis Academy Ryelands came along to give ideas for themes and objects that they’d like to see included in the mural. Their school ‘Circle of Inclusion’ was added to acknowledge their input.

More work is planned in the playground, and we are considering installing a new piece of play equipment to replace one piece that was removed because it was unsafe.

These are some of the things residents have said

“Love it! Just noticed it today!”

“Well done. Love it when things get done for the little ones”

“Awesome”

“Just what South Norwood needs. Thank you to the artist for the beautiful work”

“Love it – will go and look next week! Well done to the artists”

“Fantastic!”

“Looked amazing in the sun”

“I love it, so bright & perfect for inspiring kids play. Looking forward to checking it out with the little ones”

PPR are currently arranging for the rest of the walls to be similarly painted, again by Will Barras and are hoping to raise more funds to install a new piece of play equipment to replace the ‘Spider’ that had to be removed because it was unsafe.