This post was first published by My London on 16/09/2019.
‘Why Croydon should be a city sooner rather than later’
Croydon has tried and failed four times to become a city, but the next attempt should be successful, argues Sam Truelove.
It’s a debate which has raged on for more than half a century.
With a population of nearly 400,000 people, strong transport links and a rich history, Croydon has all the credentials to be a city.
But the simple fact is it is not.
The town has tried four times to gain the sought-after city status; first in 1954, and then again in 2000, 2002 and 2012. But it has failed on each occasion.
The reasons why are unclear, but I for one am not sure what else Croydon can do to prove it is worthy enough to be called a city.
Let’s start with looking at what a city is defined as. In the Oxford English Dictionary a city is “a large town” and a “town created a city by charter and usually containing a cathedral”.
It is widely thought that to become a city, a town must have a cathedral and it must be relatively big in size – but this is actually not the case. In the 1540s Henry VIII created six cathedral towns and gave them all city status, thus creating the association between having a cathedral and a city.
However, many of the 69 cities in the UK – there are 51 cities in England, seven in Scotland, six in Wales and five in Northern Ireland – don’t have cathedrals.
In fact, there is no specific criteria a town must fulfill in order to become a city.
Birmingham, which was granted city status in January 1889, is the largest populated city in the UK with more than 1,085,000 people while St Davids, situated on the far south west coast of Wales, was granted city status in September 1994 but only has a population of 1,408.
So Croydon not having a cathedral isn’t a big deal.
In fact, there are probably more reasons why Croydon should be a city than there are for the town not to be.
It has amazing transport links (it’s home to the only tram network in London), has a great infrastructure and even better facilities.
It has good libraries, a really good museum, decent swimming pools and community centres, and an outstanding history.
The future of Croydon is bright, too. The arrival of Boxpark, redevelopment of Fairfield Halls and plans for Westfield shows it is an area which is not living in the past but instead the future.
Yes Croydon has it’s negatives, but what area doesn’t?
Go to any part of Croydon and you’ll see the strong community spirit, the amazing street art and wonderful businesses.
Giving Croydon city status would only improve the town, too. Although the status does not mean any extra powers or funding are available, it will create a buzz and excitement around the area.
It will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the economy, employment and investment.
Towns are usually invited to apply for city status, normally on special royal occasions, and I believe Croydon’s time will come.
I believe the debate about Croydon becoming a city will come to an end, sooner rather than later.