The suburb with the lowest life expectancy in London: ‘It doesn’t have that feel-good factor’

Mark Richs, Pic: Eleonora Girotto

“Selhurst does not have that feel good factor” says Mark Richs, 38, owner of the Moorish Grill takeaway restaurant in Selhurst.

Richs added: “This is a run down area, the council should put a bit more work in. All we have here are low quality parks and that in itself gives you no way to go out and exercise. It does not invite people to come out a bit more. When they finish work they’ll go straight home.”

Selhurst’s male residents are expected to die younger than any other place in London.  The Croydon neighbourhood has the worst male life expectancy across the whole of London, according to the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics

Abandoned house in Selhurst Road by Eleonora Girotto

The ONS data estimates that men born between 2009 and 2013 have a life expectancy of just over 74 years. This is, on average, ten years lower than nearby Selsdson and Ballards. 

Selhurst’s average is also almost ten years lower than Croydon’s average life expectancy for men, calculated at 80 years and three months, which is close to the London’s average. Considering that life expectancy in each of the Eastlondonlines boroughs increased every year since 2001, Selhurst’s average is still lower than Croydon’s life expectancy in 2001 (76.8). On average Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlet male residents are expected to live just over 79 years.

This small suburb is located south of Crystal Palace, in between South Norwood, Croydon and Thornton Heath. Selhurst expands across the main road, Selhurst Road that becomes Northcote Road. It includes three small parks and a trainyard, opposite Selhurst station.

Whitehorse road recreation ground Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Selhurst’s population, just over 18,000, is made up almost equally of white British, black Caribbean and black African ethnicities. It is also home to the Crystal Palace Football Club stadium and to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home.

Under passage by Selhurst station. Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Eastlondonlines went to the streets of Selhurst to speak to local people. Richs was not the only one to find the ‘feel good’ factor lacking in an area tainted by deprivation, high crime rates and a crippling lack of services.

Alex Cox, 35, a youth worker said:  “I would imagine it [the low life expectancy for men] has to do with the level of income. We know that there’s probably a connection between poverty and life expectancy. The truth is if you don’t have much money and you’re struggling financially that causes more stress for you and it gets more difficult to take care of yourself.”

Ales Cox, Selhurst resident Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Cox added: “Selhurst is a poor area, it’s an area that is still developing and I think there are a lot of people here who are struggling. Probably that lack of finances is what contributes to low life expectancy.”

“There aren’t many parks or recreational facilities. We have a youth centre now, which is a positive step. But there isn’t a huge amount of facilities. When you look at all the factors together it is definitely an underprivileged area, compared to other areas in Croydon.”

Moorish Grill takeaway restaurant in Selhurst Road. Pic: Eleonora Girotto

Nana Osei, 34, IT technician from Selhurst said: “You wouldn’t expect to hear that about the area where you lived for 12 years. I think people who live around here lead a good life. They drive nice cars. That doesn’t include all the residents but there are a few who are living the good life.”

Nana Osei, Selhurst resident Pic: Eleonora Girotto

James Davis, 23, from the adjacent South Norwood also pointed at the fact that an “extreme crime rate” affects the life expectancy of the area. We don’t really get too many police officers around. We could do with more. You very rarely see police patrols around here. It is a big problem” 

Davis placed emphasis on lifestyle conditions having an impact: “No one seems to get themselves checked out. People work themselves to the bone. A lot of people drink too much. We are just reducing life expectancy like that.” 

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