The High Street Today

Storefronts on the high street

New businesses have arrived, and the high streets are changing, though many favourites stand the test of time.

In this audio you can hear Richard, John, Karlys, Renee and Freda.

This audio is 4 minutes and 26 seconds long.



Richard: I’ll tell you what is lovely. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, it was the bike shop.  There’s a perfume shop down there. My friend John’s got a business in the basement, and you walk past, and it’s just, it’s lovely, the smells that come out of there. All we need is that and a baker that bakes bread, yeah and then we’d be, then South Norwood would be laughing.

John: There are still lots of nice things that go on in the area. You know, all of the new people that have come to the area. You know more things have popped up. Lots of yoga classes and more musicians have moved to there. There’s more bands. There’s lots of events.

Stan (Interviewer): What sort of changes would you say you’ve seen over the years with? Are they for better or for worse?

Karyls: I can’t say they’re for better or for worse, actually, I would say that they are just different. I’d say they’re different. I never thought I’d see a yoga studio on South Norwood High Street [laughs]. Never thought I’d see that, that was fascinating. Or a Costa to be fair, I didn’t expect that, that was a nice surprise because it makes me feel fancy. What else?  Some things have stayed the same, like there’s always been a chicken shop on South Norwood high street. In fact, when I was younger, there was, Chicken World as it is, was Favourite Chicken. I liked the wings there. The barber shop has always been there, there’s loads of barber shops now.  I think the greengrocers where you get the plantain, three for a pound, that stayed the same. I don’t know if it’s owned by the same people, but it’s always been the meat and plantain shop as long as I remember.

Stan: And, and you also mentioned about the diverse community that exists now. So, so is that kind of significantly different to when you were much younger?

Renee: Yeah, absolutely. A little bit. I mean, even now, it’s really interesting to see because there are some businesses that haven’t changed. I’ll be honest. There are. What is it? The Yard Stop, there was one of the food shops on the high street that has just absolutely never changed. So opposite The Ship and sometimes they look like they’re closed, but they’re not closed and they’re still open. For me, sustainability is key. I think it’s really important to make sure you have sustainable business models, because then that way it just, it empowers the community better. It just kind of it makes the community a more flourishing place when you have a business that’s been there for a while. So, there are some businesses that have been there for years. A lot of the Jamaican shops have been there for absolutely years there. Blue Jays, Blue Jays is on Portland Road, they’ve been there for absolutely donkey’s years.  Cools Kitchen as well as on Portland Road. I think you’ve got Flavaz First was on the High Street and a few others as well. As I said, the new businesses are some of the South American businesses and some of the Polish businesses that have joined. But it’s good to see that they have joined without anyone having to actually leave. So it’s just, you know, more enriching in a sense.

Freda: Yeah. Now it’s more vibrant, we can see more working-class people moving into South Norwood. Yes. Just next to the train station, it’s easier access to London Bridge and all other locations in the city.  I’ve seen many pubs opening and then lots of nice things on the high street right now, even though our banks, they are all shut, but still things are coming up. New things are coming. 

Karlys: I was born in Croydon, and I used to live off Portland Road. So South Norwood High Street was the thing that connected me to, everywhere else basically. As I got older, I went to church in Stanley Halls, and now I work in the Samuel Coleridge Taylor centre, which is in the middle of the high street. So, I work for a charity called Reaching Higher, which is a grassroots charity with a focus on youth work. So, we do preventative work with young people. It actually started, like it was attached to the church that I went to. We have community provisions every day. Today actually Monday the sixth, we’re doing a ‘Youth Caff’ on Portland Road which is at the Socco Cheta on Portland Road. So young people come, they learn to cook, they learn life skills, and they spend time with each other. 

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit 

Image Credit: High Street © Luke O’Donovan

Storefronts on the high street

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