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John Hickman (South Drawood exhibition)

  • Year Invented: 2018

John is known as South Norwood’s local historian. Raised in South London, he has always been interested in history, particularly that of Croydon. An early local project was his involvement in the 150th anniversary of St. Mark’s church where he mounted an exhibition of those commemorated in the Roll of Honour.  This was subsequently made available in booklet form in the church

Other ways John shares his knowledge are through guided walks of South Norwood, Woodside and Beckenham Cemetery, giving local talks.  He is also a director of Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, of which William Stanley, a founder member, was once president.  John was elected president in 2015, a post he held until 2020.

John has gathered much of his information of the area through collecting oral history from residents. He believes that it is worth getting to know the people of the area and the diversity that they represent.

As a member of the Norwood Society planning sub-committee, he is actively involved in monitoring the South Norwood Conservation Area.  He firmly believes in the value of our conserving both the natural and built environment; not for trying to reconstruct it as it once was, but to enhance the rich diversity of South Norwood for the future.

Words by Elizabeth Walters

Interview with John Hickman, Local Historian, April 2022


This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.

From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.

South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.

The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.

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