Inventing South Norwood

A celebration of South Norwood’s history of invention and creativity. Over three years the programme will deliver online and in-person events that engage the whole of our local community in our unique local story of invention.

The project will be inspired by famous South Norwood historic figures like the inventor & industrialist William Stanley and the composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor. We will also celebrate the creativity and invention of our community today, as well of lots of unknown stories from the past.  


Feb 2022 Newsletter

Our plans for the first half of 2022 include the launch of our Inventing South Norwood Grants  where you can apply for funding of up to £1000 to make new creative work inspired by South Norwood’s inventors. Find out more here and apply using this form.

We are also starting an ‘Archive Volunteer Group’ which will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in delving into South Norwood’s inventive past and present. Find out more here.

We are also looking for a zine artist to join the team and lead the creation of the Story of Invention for South Norwood. The full Job Description is available here.

Events So far…

While we were delayed getting started in 2021 due to the ongoing Covid pandemic we still got a lot done. From Oct – Dec we held four Invention Points at the monthly Clockwork Market and at our Stanley Arts home.

These showcased the creativity of local artists, whilst also giving us a chance to meet with the community and hear their stories of local creativity and invention. Our local inventors taught South Norwood how to make models of local landmarks out of clay, festive head-dresses, fairies made from wood gathered in local parks and the South Norwood Clock Tower out of felt.

We also helped deliver a fantastic Panto Dame Costume Competition with over 50 entries including from students of Croydon College and Harris Academy South Norwood. Our winners were Neveah-Sky Cassanova Brown, Oluwafunmilayo Sosanya, and Rosa Enver.

We launched an online Invention Archive Submissions form and asked members of the public to start sending us examples of inventions and creativity for inclusion in our forthcoming archive. 

(We are always interested to hear from anyone who has an example of South Norwood inventiness. Just go to the Stanley Arts website to submit yours.)

We have already been working with local historian John Hickman and other local history enthusiasts, to start gathering stories. Our archive will include historical inventions such as the Atmospheric Railway, and the first reinforced foot tunnel in the world. 

There have already been arguments about whether William Stanley actually reinvented the bicycle wheel or not (still undecided), and we discovered a local aeronaut who tried to make an invention called the rotating balloon. We have learnt a lot! 

Plans for 2022…

Our web designers are working away on a new and exciting ‘Inventing South Norwood’ section to the Stanley Arts website.

We hope to launch this in April providing an interactive online space that will fill up over the next couple of years with examples of South Norwood’s past and present inventions. 

With these online resources we hope to create a legacy that will inspire future invention and creativity in South Norwood. 

The Inventing South Norwood Grant Programme (First Round)

We are very excited to be launching a new grant scheme to enable people inspired by South Norwood’s history of creativity and invention to create their own community event or activity in 2022. Grants of £500 to £1000 are available.

The activities could be anything from a guided walk or talk to a musical performance or a spoken word evening. There are few limits, the activities just need to be inspired by South Norwood tradition of creativity and invention; past or present day, and can be focused on any form of invention, whether it be new music, new imagery, a new building or new ideas. So whether you are inspired by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, William Stanley or Michael Owuo Jr., why not drop us a line? 

The activity must: 

  • Be inspired by the South Norwood’s invention & creativity
  • Take place within the South Norwood High Street Action Zone
  • Be presented by the end of May 2022
  • Be free for your attendees 

To read more checkout this press release : Inventing South Norwood Grant Programme

And to apply please fill in the following form: Grant Programme Form   

Zine Artist Needed 

We are looking to hire a new artist to help us create a quarterly Zine for the programme to start interpreting the invention archive and start to generate illustrations that will become, over time, the ‘Story of Invention’. This work will have its own place on the new archive website and will be published and distributed locally. For the full JD for the role see here: Zine Artist JD 

Invention Points 2022 – A Call out for Local Inventors & Creatives 

Last year we held four invention points in the Clock Tower Market and Stanley Arts. Each of these events had a local inventor/creative host a short workshop of their work and offer the chance for local people to have a go. Following on from this success this year we would like to hold more of our Market Invention Points starting in March this year. 

We are looking for inventors who love to teach other people about their craft and are happy to lead hands-on workshops at our outdoor stall at the Clocktower Market. There are no limits to the content of the workshop as long as the people engaged are learning to make something that you have invented and can walk away with something they have made. 

For more information, see here: Call out for New Inventors 

History Detectives Wanted !

We are looking for local enthusiasts who have an interest in South Norwood and its history. 

Back in August 2021 we started collecting stories of invention and creativity. To take things forward this year we want to form a new archive group to continue and expand this work. The plan is that the group would first of all organize all the stories we already have and then work with our team to research new stories of invention from South Norwood. 

The group will work together with our volunteer facilitators to create content that will become part of our exciting new online Archive of Invention. 

There will be some training provided with an experienced archivist and local historians who will provide guidance and support on research tasks.  

These sessions will be in the Social Cafe at Stanley Arts once a month for an hour and a half; tea and coffee provided. All sessions are free so why not get involved?

For more information, see here: The South Norwood Invention Archive Group 

Young Steering Group Member

We are still looking for a new steering group member for our programme so if you know anyone from 18-25 who has an interest in working with us to guide the programme then we would love to hear from them. 

For more information, see here: New Steering Group Member 


Historic England : High Streets Heritage Action Zones

The Inventing South Norwood Programme is funded by Historic England as part of the Culture strand of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones programme. Our little cultural programme is part of a big national HSHAZ Cultural Programme which you can read more about here.

Historic England Logo

And supported by:

Mary Pearson Suffragette Samuel Coleridge Taylor
© 2022 Stanley Arts Charity No: 1155680