“We do it for the love of Croydon”

Angela and Julia, the two founders of Croydonist. Pic: Murray Scott

Julia Woollams, an independent graphic designer by trade, and Angela Martin, the lead singer of disco-pop band Bugeye, are a couple on a mission to show Croydon’s highlights through their quirky arts and lifestyle magazine Croydonist.

Born and bred Croydonian, Julia met East London native Angela in Lewisham. Julia jokingly says, “I managed to lure her into Croydon.”

Ever since her student years at Central Saint Martins art school, Julia made it her mission to spread the word about how great Croydon is. 

“I used to be telling my friends, there’s this and that in Croydon, despite it generally having a quite negative reputation for anyone who hasn’t been there or passed through on their way to Gatwick.”

After luring Angela into the borough, Julia recalls Angela’s friends coming down to Croydon for a girls’ weekend because they couldn’t afford to go abroad for the summer.

Little did they know that that Croydon girls’ weekend would eventually give birth of the Croydonist.

“So they came to Croydon, and we did a Croydon guide. They went to visit the Windmill and did various things around there.”

“At that point we thought ‘why not formalize it and write about all the positive things about Croydon? I wonder if we will have enough things to write about’. That was in 2016. Now, seven years later, we are still growing.”

A self-funded project that started as a shared hobby is now an arts and lifestyle magazine with over 15 guest writers. This works well as Julia and Angela have their hands full raising two children.  

“Reviewing all the local new restaurants is more difficult for us when you’ve got kids because you can’t just pop there, you know, it’s more of a planned effort.” 

Croydonist’s two founders, who are both artists themselves, focus more on writing about and collaborating with Croydon’s art collectives and artists.

“It’s about trying to highlight and find all these community groups, get people to learn about different cultures and art forms” says Julia, while also reiterating the Croydon’s cultural footprint.

The borough gave birth to punk and dubstep, as well as producing talents like rapper Stormzy, actress Sue Perkins and model Kate Moss.  

So far, Angela and Julia haven’t run out of things to write about, which is not surprising as Croydon’s population is nearly 400,000 – close to the city of Bristol or Manchester.  

“The perspective of Croydon is generally that it’s just concrete, ugly buildings. Whereas, we’ve got loads of green spaces and that juxtaposition of modern, 60s, architecture. Now, there’s a lot of regeneration and building in the centre of Croydon.

“We’ve got an old palace from, sort of, Henry VIII times. The history goes back to the 1500s and we still got some of that here and visible today.” 

Julia says the borough has undergone cyclical growth since the mid-20th century.

“People always go, oh they’re always building in Croydon, but I quite like that about the town centre, which you look at the skyline and it’s ever-changing.”

“We’ve got a mini Manhattan skyline, a tall skyline for a town like Croydon.”

Some say those swathes of construction sites are signs of gentrification in the area.

“There are still lots of problems with crime and homelessness in the centre of Croydon, so I suppose trying to get the centre cleaned up is a good thing. But obviously, we need to tackle those issues rather than just burying them somewhere.”

For some however, that new skyline is going to be unreachable – according to research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, the cost of an average house in Croydon has increased by more than 90% per cent since 2013.

“It’s something that happens everywhere to a certain extent. There’s always been movement around London, presumably younger people coming in and looking for flats to live and work in the centre.”

Julia says there will always be people who moan about the negative aspects of where they live. To combat this, Julia and Angela try to showcase to all fellow Croydonians and Londoners the liveliness of Croydon, through their publication.

Some say concrete jungle, some say the home of cultural and artistic diversity.

But in the end, as Julia says, they do it “for the love of Croydon.”

One Response

  1. Luby October 19, 2023

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