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Is Croydon ‘Britain’s Most Interesting Town’?

Forget Paris. Is Croydon the next must-do on the global sightseeing itinerary?

As a new tour invites you to ‘Discover Britain’s Most Interesting Town’, will Croydon be the next must-do on the UK sightseeing itinerary? Skyscanner’s Son of Croydon, James T investigates.

It has been claimed that Croydon is ‘Britain’s Most Interesting Town’. According to James Naylor, the man behind Croydon Tours, ‘everything that has mattered, or will matter in Britain is to be found within its streets’ which makes Croydon sound pretty exciting. In my day, it wasn’t. But things change.

But is Croydon really that fascinating? Worth a short visit even? As a statement of fact it is debatable, but it is certainly interesting that you can take a tour of its ‘sights’.

Croydon law courts
The tour takes you around Croydon’s medieval ‘old town’ (a hitherto unheard of attraction) and its infamous modernist ‘new town’. Alas, the tour doesn’t take in the depot from where my dad’s mate nicked a bus, Waddon Ponds, with its healthy population of coot, or The Cricketers public house, where my Nan propped up the bar with Ted, her bit of rough from the ‘hood when she was at least 76 and living life to the full. It’s probably a Wetherspoon’s now anyway. Then there was Gordon, her uptown boy, who bought her a microwave, but that’s another story.

Looking down on Croydon, it is easy to see why it earned the nickname ‘The New Manhattan’. From Epsom Downs, home of The Derby, one of the world’s most famous horse races, you can see a cluster of skyscrapers sprouting from London’s low-rise cityscape that stretches to the north horizon. That’s Croydon, looking like a satellite of the City, its glass-and-concrete monuments are partners to ‘The Gherkin’. It really should have an Eye too.

Drop from the North Downs into the mass and you’re in a different world altogether. There are no stables housing racehorses, no grand country piles hidden down long lanes, guarded by perimeter walls and electronic gates. Welcome to Croydon, the historic Surrey town (or London Borough, depending on your point of view, or adherence to administrative nomenclature) that has become the epicentre of 21st century urban cool. Or has it?

So next time you visit London, or Surrey, take a walk on the Croydon side. Or go on tour with Croydon Tours.

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