At the time of writing, 208 London Road is occupied by two similar but completely separate businesses: Worf Enterprises, which offers shipping and money transfer to the Caribbean as well as mobile phone top ups and sim cards, and Afghan Exchange & Travel, which focuses on money transfer to countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
1900s: The Croydon Discount Check Company
Like its neighbour at number 206, 208 London Road was built in the early years of the 20th century as part of Royal Parade, a grand development consisting of 26 shops with two flats above each. While number 206 fairly swiftly found a use that would persist until the 1970s, for the first several years of its life number 208 only had very short-term occupants.
One of these was the Croydon Discount Check Company. It’s unclear exactly what sort of business this company carried out, but it might well have been along the same lines as the similarly-named Traders’ Discount Check Company which was active in Dundee around the same time. The latter was a precursor to the modern loyalty card system, issuing stamps known as “Pink Checks” to traders such as grocers, butchers, drapers, and bootmakers.
When a customer made a purchase, the trader would give them a certain number of these stamps depending on how much they had spent. The customer would then stick the stamps into their “Bank Book”, which when full or half-full could be redeemed with the Traders’ Discount Check Company at the rate of 4 shillings for a half book and 8 shillings for a full book (£23.39 and £46.77 in 2019 prices).
In any case, the Croydon Discount Check Company appears not to have been a great success; it was here for less than two years, and is absent from street directories both before and after this time.
1900s: James Cox Junior, glass & china stores
By September 1905 the Royal Parade Glass & China Stores was open at number 208 under the stewardship of James Cox Junior. James had substantial experience in the trade, having “for many years managed his father’s business at Compton House Pottery, 42, Old Compton-street”, which the Croydon Guardian described as “one of the oldest and best established glass and china establishments in the kingdom”.
The Croydon Chronicle was also keen to promote James’ business, reporting in April 1906 on “an interesting tour through his shop and store room”:
“We here saw glass and china of every conceivable shape and design, and from almost all quarters of the civilised globe. Mr. Cox explained to us that the reason of him holding such a large stock is owing to his trade among caterers, hotel keepers, and publicans, of which he holds a monopoly in Croydon [...]
“One of the attractions of the shop is undoubtedly the window display, a fresh one being given every week, and sometimes oftener, and on each occasion there is an entire change. Last week, Mr. Cox was showing some valuable antique furniture, most of which belonged to the Marquis of Anglesey. This was sold out almost immediately, and this week he is showing the largest ornament that has ever been made. This huge vase stands about 6ft. high and about 8ft. in circumference [...] There are only three in existence, one at New York, one at the Leipzig Museum, and the third has found a resting place at Mr. Cox’s emporium.”
Despite all this, by August 1906 — just a year after opening his Royal Parade shop — James had decided on “relinquishing the retail department of his business” and put his entire stock in trade up for auction by F R Durham & Co at their salesroom on North End.
1900s–1910s: Kate Williams, china and glass dealer
The next business to occupy number 208 also sold china and glass. However, it’s unclear whether its initial setup involved any of James’s stock, which as noted above had not been auctioned off on the premises but rather removed to the auctioneer’s salesroom first.
It’s also unclear whether the new proprietor, Kate Williams, had much experience in the trade. In her mid-fifties when she arrived on London Road, and already on her third marriage, Kate had previously run a tea house called “The Geisha” in the seaside town of Worthing.
Kate appears to have lived on the London Road premises — not in one of the flats above, but actually in the back part of the shop — along with three grandchildren. The grandchildren were from two strands of descent; two were Hudsons, and the other was Evelyn Marie Strange, who assisted Kate in the china business.
The reason why Kate and her grandchildren lived on the premises might well have been down to the pressures of accommodating their extended family. At the time of the 1911 census, Kate’s husband, Rechab, was living not on London Road with Kate, but a short walk away on Handcroft Road with Kate’s son (and Evelyn’s father) Frank Strange, Frank’s wife Caroline, and five of Evelyn’s siblings. These eight people had just five rooms to live in, so it’s unsurprising that there had to be some overflow to the three rooms behind Kate’s shop.
Rechab died in early 1913, and by the end of the year Kate had left London Road. Her shop lay empty for the next five years.
1910s–1920s: David Marcus, ladies’ tailor and milliner
Next to arrive was David Marcus, a ladies’ tailor and milliner who had previously operated from shared premises at number 188. David must have found it very helpful to have the extra space, especially since he also took over number 210 next door.
The business hit a small bump in 1924, as “Mrs. Marion Sophie Elizabeth Outred, a tailoress, of West Croydon” brought a civil case against “D. Marcus and Co., of the Royal-parade” at the Surrey Assizes:
“Mr. H. C. Dickens, who appeared for plaintiff, explained that after purchasing a coat with a fur collar, from the defendants, and wearing it on several occasions about Christmas time, plaintiff found that her neck had begun to show signs of pimples, and to bear other indications of skin irritation [...] A prescription was given to her by a chemist and she left off wearing the coat, with the result that her neck improved considerably. Some days later, however, she again wore the coat, whereupon the symptoms returned. She went to a doctor, and was away three weeks from work, owing to her employer thinking the rash was contagious.”
Marion’s doctor, Harold Easton, was also present in court, and was questioned both by her lawyer and by the judge:
“Mr. Dickens: It is a well-known medical fact that a fur collar sometimes contains a deleterious substance? — Yes.
“His Lordship: In other words it is the dye with which the collar is dressed? — Yes.
“Witness added that in his opinion the plaintiff was then suffering from fur-dermatitis.”
Marion was awarded damages of £50 (£2,986 in 2018 prices) plus costs.
It was also around this time that David gave up number 210, though he continued to trade at number 208 for a couple more years. However, by the start of 1927 the tailoring business was in the hands of F S Madgett, and by the end of the year the era of clothing at 208 London Road had also come to an end.
1920s–1930s: Walter Noel Weedon, artists’ colourman
Ladies’ clothes were replaced by artists’ colours, with the arrival of Walter Noel Weedon. Born three weeks before the end of 1892 in Foots Cray, Kent, by 1911 the 18-year-old Walter was working as a shipping clerk and living with his parents in Thornton Heath.
His father, also named Walter, was a commercial artist of some kind, and it seems likely that this was what sparked our Walter’s interest in making a career change to dealing in artists’ pigments.
By late 1919, Walter was trading as an artists’ colourman at 212 London Road, and by the autumn of 1927 he had transferred two doors down to number 208. It’s unclear why he made this change, as these two properties are similar in size and were built at the same time; the main difference is that 212 is a corner property while 208 is mid-terrace.
The mid-1930s saw Walter opening a picture framing shop at the Norbury end of Streatham, though he seems to have kept his London Road shop too until at least the end of the decade.
1940s–1950s: Goodall & Fentiman, plastering contractors
By late 1946, number 208 was occupied by plastering contractors Arthur Goodall and Charles Fentiman, working under the name of Goodall & Fentiman. It’s unclear precisely how they used the premises, but a combination of administrative office and shopfront advertising to passing trade seems likely. They remained here until the mid-1950s.
1950s–1980s: Head’s, cycle dealers
Next to arrive were cycle dealers John and Edmund Head. When they opened their London Road shop around 1952–1953, John and Edmund already had premises in Mitcham and on St Michael’s Road near West Croydon station. Stocking “a Large Selection of New and Secondhand Cycles”, they specialised in “Juveniles & Tricycles” and claimed to offer the “Best H.P. [hire purchase] Terms” as well as free delivery.
The Heads also dealt in two bicycle accessories which were very much of their time — the “Mini-Motor” clip-on engine and the “Cyclemaster” powered wheel.
Designed in Italy and manufactured under license for UK sales by Trojan of Croydon, the Mini-Motor was fitted to a normal bicycle rear wheel and essentially worked by driving a friction roller that pressed directly onto the tread of the tyre to push it forwards. It weighed 22lb (10kg), had a 3-pint (1.75-litre) petrol tank feeding a 49.9cc engine, and could produce speeds of up to 30mph.
The Cyclemaster, on the other hand, was an all-in-one unit that replaced the normal wheel. It was less powerful than the Mini-Motor, but more compact and with a rather neater appearance, as the full assembly was contained within a large hub at the centre of the wheel. With a 2.5-pint (1.5-litre) petrol tank and 25.7cc engine, its maximum speed was around 20mph.
Long-term cyclist flecc, who worked in a motorcycle/bicycle dealership in the 1950s, fitting and repairing add-on motors like the Cyclemaster, explained the background to all this in a post on the Pedelecs forum:
Most cars and motorcycles had been requisitioned for the forces in WW2, and public transport was in a sorry state post war after more than a decade without investment, few spares and war damage losses. No-one could buy a new car or motorbike without an essential use reason since everything we made had to go for export to pay off our huge war debts. So it had to be existing bikes, and these motors made cycling a bit easier.
Despite their great popularity in the early 1950s, very few of these motors were still being produced by the end of the decade. As flecc explains, technology and society had both moved on from the post-war years:
Over a million hit the roads from about 1949, but the sales soon fizzled out. For example, the 49 cc PowerPak was immensely popular after its introduction in I think 1951, quickly outselling most others, but they went broke in 1955 and most of the others disappeared by the end of that decade. The introduction and availability of the vastly superior scooters like the Vespa and Lambretta had replaced them, cars and motorbikes were beginning to become more available and public transport was improving.
The decline of the add-on motor appears not to have affected the Heads to any great extent; indeed, by 1960 they were also dealing in mopeds from at least one of their shops. Their London Road branch remained at number 208 until the mid-1980s.
1980s–1990s: The Gallery
A new occupant was in place by 1988 — The Gallery, offering picture framing as well as posters, prints, and “limited editions”. It left little impact on the documentary record and remained only a short time, likely departing at some point during 1991.
1990s–2017: Party Crafts
By the end of the 1990s, number 208 was home to a cake and party decoration shop known as Party Crafts. This seems to have arrived on London Road around 1993, possibly spending a few years at number 248 before moving down to number 208 by 1999.
A change of ownership around 2003 saw the shop coming under the management of the Arudchelvan family, who specialised in events management as well as cakes and party paraphernalia, offering hall decoration and ornate manavarai and mandaps for Indian weddings. The Arudchelvans continued to operate Party Crafts until it closed down for good in 2017.
2017–present: Snow Ballz, Worf Enterprises, and Afghan Exchange
Late 2017 saw the unit being divided into two parts, with the right-hand side keeping the majority of the shopfront and a new doorway on the left-hand side leading down a corridor to a separate space at the back.
The right-hand side became Worf Enterprises, which had previously operated next door at number 210 under the name of G J Shipping & Travel. It’s still there today, offering shipping and money transfer to the Caribbean as well as mobile phone top ups and sim cards.
The left-hand side became Snow Ballz, a snow cone, milkshake, and party supplies shop which had previously sold its shaved-ice snow cones from a kiosk in the Whitgift Centre.
Snow Ballz closed down in early November 2018, just a year after opening. However, the company continued to operate on a pop-up and event hire basis, along with selling shaved-ice machines and syrups via the internet.
In August 2019, the space previously occupied by Snow Ballz was taken over by Afghan Exchange & Travel, a new business specialising in money transfer to Afghanistan as well as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The manager, Mr Sidiqi, told me that the motivation behind opening here was the huge Afghan community in Croydon, with thousands of asylum seekers housed in the borough. His business is the only one in the area aimed at this community.
Thanks to: Colin Walker; flecc; Katie Bishop and colleague at the West Sussex Record Office; Mr Ray of Worf Enterprises; Mr Sidiqi of Afghan Exchange & Travel; Snow Ballz; Steve Glover; the Planning Technical Support Team at Croydon Council; the staff, volunteers, and patrons at the Museum of Croydon; and my beta-readers Alice and Fred. Monetary conversions performed using the Bank of England inflation calculator (prices < £100 given to the nearest penny, prices from £100 to < £100,000 to the nearest pound, prices from £100,000 to < £1 million to the nearest £1,000, prices from £1 million to < £100 million to the nearest £100,000, prices ≥ £100 million to the nearest million).
Footnotes and references
- Ward’s directories list “shops building” in 1902; “Unoccupied” in 1903 and 1904; the Croydon Discount Check Company in 1905; Jas. [James] Cox Junior, Glass & China Stores, in 1906; and “Unoccupied” again in 1907. Since the data for Ward’s directories represent annual snapshots of time, there may well have been other businesses that came and went between these snapshots.
- Information on the Traders’ Discount Check Company is taken from an advert on the front page of the 8 November 1909 Dundee Evening Telegraph.
- The Croydon Discount Check Company must have arrived on London Road some time between late 1903 and late 1904, as Ward’s 1904 directory lists 2 Royal Parade as unoccupied. It was gone by September 1905, as James Cox’s shop was there by then. It does not appear in Ward’s alphabetical lists of professionals/tradesmen either before or after its time on London Road, so was very likely a short-term venture that failed to work out.
- Ward’s 1906 directory lists James Cox Junior, glass & china stores. An advert on page 10 of the 16 September 1905 Croydon Guardian states that James’ shop is now open, and refers to it as the “Royal Parade Glass & China Stores”. Quotations are taken from an article on page 10 of the 26 August 1905 Croydon Guardian.
- Quotations taken from an article on page 5 of the 21 April 1906 Croydon Chronicle.
- Information and quotation taken from advert for the auction on the front page of the 4 August 1906 Croydon Guardian. This advert states that the sale was taking place “At short notice”, and that all this stock in trade had been moved to F R Durham’s salesroom from 2 Royal Parade due to “a sale on the premises being prohibited”. One does wonder whether James’s decision to give up his shop was an entirely voluntary one.
Ward’s directories list Mrs K Williams, China & Glass Dlr [Dealer], from 1908 to 1913 inclusive. Kelly’s 1911 directory gives Kate’s full first name, confirmed by the 1911 census which lists Kate Lucia Williams, aged 60, married for the past 25 years, china & glass dealer, working on her “own account” “at home”. This census also shows three grandchildren with her: 15-year-old Evelyn Marie Strange, a “China Shop” “Shop assistant” working “at home”; 14-year-old Kate Mary Hudson, a typist; and 11-year-old Wallace Hudson.
Kate had four surnames during her life, with the last three coming from her three marriages: Chapman, Strange, Clarke, and Williams. Records from St Mary Newington Parish Church show a marriage between Francis Strange, bachelor, and under-21 (“Minor”) Kate Lucia Chapman, spinster and daughter of cook George Chapman, on 3 September 1870. Similar records from All Saints, Walworth, show a marriage between Sydney Malcolm Rymer Clarke, bachelor, and 27-year-old Kate Lucia Strange, widow and daughter of confectioner George Chapman, on 18 September 1878. Finally, Croydon Parish Church records show a marriage between Rechab Williams, bachelor, and Kate Lucia Clarke, widow and daughter of confectioner George Chapman, on 18 April 1886.
Regarding Kate’s time in Worthing, the 1901 census shows her living (again with Kate Hudson) at “The Geisha” in Worthing, working as a “Tea House Keeper” on her “own account” (note that although “Coffee Ho[use]” has been written over “Tea House Keeper”, as explained below in the footnote regarding Walter Frederick Weedon, this was likely a categorisation rather than a correction). As further confirmation, Katie Bishop of the West Sussex Record Office tells me that Kirshaw’s 1901 Worthing directory lists a Mrs K Williams as “Proprietress” of the Geisha Tea House on Brighton Road. (The census appears to place The Geisha on Navarino Road, but a colleague of Katie’s who’s researched other properties on that part of Brighton Road believes that this is due to a failure to update the street name in the listings, and that The Geisha was actually on Brighton Road as stated in Kirshaw’s directory.)
- The buildings in the background have changed substantially in the time since, but enough of them remain that a comparison with Google Street View suggests the image shows a view from the pier, with Steyne Gardens being the gap in the buildings towards the centre of the image.
- See earlier footnote for information on Kate’s three grandchildren. Regarding the question of Kate living at the back of the shop, Ward’s 1911 directory lists A H Thomas and Andrew Terriss at 2 Royal Mansions (the pair of flats above 2 Royal Parade), Moreover, on the 1911 census (which was filled in by the householders themselves) Kate gives her address as 2 Royal Parade (not 2 Royal Mansions), and states that her household occupies three rooms. Occupiers of the Royal Mansions flats who are not noted as working “At Home” consistently state on this census that their home consists of either four or five rooms, while Bertram Budd, who ran the bakery at 1 Royal Parade, states that his consists of eight. Ward’s 1911 directory lists the Albion Bakery at 1 Royal Parade and Bertram Budd at 1 Royal Mansions, suggesting that Bertram’s household occupied three rooms behind his bakery plus one of the flats above (and certainly in 1970 the bakery had internal steps leading to the first-floor flat, according to planning application 70/20/1068). This fits well with Kate’s household occupying three rooms behind her shop.
The 1911 census lists a five-room household at 109 Handcroft Road headed by 40-year-old Walworth-born Frank Strange, who is a good match for the 2-month-old Francis B Strange living at 106 Maria Road, Newington, in the 1871 census with his parents Francis and Kate Lucia Strange. Frank’s 1911 household includes his wife, five daughters, and 70-year-old Rechab Williams. Rechab is listed as having been born in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, rather than in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire (which is his birthplace in the 1891 census where, for once, he and Kate are shown as living together), but despite being in different counties Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton are only about 12 kilometres apart; perhaps Rechab was actually born somewhere in between.
According to Kelly’s directories, Frank Strange had only recently moved to 109 Handcroft Road at the time of the census (he is listed there in 1912 but not 1910), but the 1896 1:1056 OS map shows that his previous residence at 45 Devonshire Road had around the same footprint at 109 Handcroft Road. Unfortunately both 45 Devonshire Road and 109 Handcroft Road have since been demolished, so a closer comparison is impossible.
- The Civil Registration Death Index for the first quarter of 1913 lists Rechab Williams as dying in Croydon at the age of 71. Ward’s directories list Kate’s shop up to and including the 1913 edition, and then “Unoccupied” from 1914 to 1918 inclusive (note that the data for these directories were generally finalised in December of the preceding year). As noted in an earlier footnote, it’s possible that one or more short-tenured businesses came and went in between Ward’s annual snapshots, but as this was during the First World War it seems unlikely that many people would have had the time and energy to spare on opening a new business.
- Ward’s directories list David Marcus, Tailor, at 66 London Road (later renumbered to 188) in 1917 and 1918; and then D Marcus, Ladies’ Tailor & Milliner, at 2–3 Royal Parade from 1919 to 1923 inclusive and at 2 Royal Parade alone in 1924, 1925, and 1926. Kelly’s 1927 directory confirms that the D Marcus at 2 Royal Parade was in fact David.
- All information and quotations regarding Marion’s case are taken from a report on the front page of the 10 July 1924 West Sussex Gazette (“Fur collar causes skin trouble”), aside from Dr Easton’s first name; he is referred to as “Dr. H. A. Easton, of Croydon”, but since he also lived on London Road (at number 937), I happen to know that his full name was Harold Augustus Easton.
- As noted in an earlier footnote, the last appearance of D Marcus at 3 Royal Parade (later renumbered to 210 London Road) is in Ward’s 1923 directory, and the last appearance at 2 Royal Parade (208 London Road) is in the 1926 edition. The 1927 edition has F S Madgett, Ladies’ Tailor & Milliner, at 2 Royal Parade, and the 1928 edition has W N Weedon, Artists’ Colourman.
- Ward’s directories list W N Weedon, artists’ colourman, at 208 London Road from 1928 to 1929 (the final edition) inclusive. The autumn 1927 electoral register gives his full name as well as his “abode” of 8 Linden Avenue, Thornton Heath. His place of birth and his age, profession, and living situation as of 1911 are taken from the 1911 census. His date of birth (10 December 1892) is taken from the 1939 Register of England & Wales.
- The 1911 census lists Walter Frederick Weedon as an “Artist”, and the 1939 Register of England & Wales has him as a “Commercial Artist Retired”. It’s worth noting that although his profession of “Artist” in the 1901 census is annotated with “Sculp”, according to JenB on RootsChat this annotation was likely written by someone collating the professions into categories, since artists were categorised under “Sculptors, Painters, Engravers (Artists)”.
- Ward’s directories list W N Weedon, artists’ colourman, at 4 Royal Parade (later renumbered to 212 London Road) from 1920 to 1927 inclusive; and as noted in an earlier footnote they then list him at 208 London Road.
- Kelly’s 1936 directory of Streatham lists Noel [sic] Weedon, picture framer, at 3 Hermitage Bridge (since renumbered to 459 Streatham High Road); the 1934 edition instead has Barral & Fairbank, confectioners. The October 1938 electoral register confirms that “Noel Weedon” is actually our Walter Noel Weedon of 8 Linden Avenue. As noted above, his London Road shop remains in Ward’s directories until the final (1939) edition. In addition, the October 1939 electoral register lists Walter Noel Weedon and Maud Weedon as being entitled to vote due to a business connection with 208 London Road (their home address is still 8 Linden Avenue). No elections were held during the Second World War, and so the next electoral register after that one was for June 1945, which does not list anyone at 208 London Road in any of the business premises, services, or civilian sections.
London phone books list Goodall & Fentiman, Plastering Contr[actor]s, at 206 [sic] London Road from October 1946 to September 1952 inclusive; I believe this to be a typo for 208, given that number 206 was a bakery at this point and the electoral register places them at 208. Their first names are taken from the 1953 electoral register, which lists Charles F Fentiman and Arthur E Goodall as eligible to vote at local elections due to their connection with 208 London Road (at this time, proprietors of businesses were still entitled to vote in non-parliamentary elections even if not living on the premises). The September 1953 London phone book lists Heads, Cycles, at 208 London Road; Goodall & Fentiman do not appear anywhere in this edition, but there is a C F Fentiman, builder & decorator, at 18 Bridle Path, Beddington, who was not so listed in the September 1952 edition.
Regarding Arthur and Charles’ usage of number 208, building contractor Colin Walker tells me that “2 guys and a secretary could probably run a fleet of vehicles and 10 to 15 plasterers from the premises. The shop would have also given visibility for passing trade and any excess storage was [probably] utilised for storage of tools and plant. Medium-size plastering contractors usually had the actual product used on site delivered directly from the works on lorries [to the building site]”. Colin also points out that “Post the Second World War ground floor shops in secondary shopping areas became quite difficult to rent out if you were a landlord”, making it quite plausible that Arthur and Charles got the property relatively cheaply (via email, 8 October 2019).
- Phone books list Heads [sic], Cycles, at 208 London Road from the September 1953 London edition to the February 1981 Croydon edition inclusive, and then Heads, Helmets, at the same address up to and including the 1985 Croydon edition. The September 1953 edition also lists Head’s [sic], Cycles, at 410 London Road, Mitcham, and at 2 St Michael’s Road, Croydon; these two addresses were also present in the September 1952 London edition, and persist until at least 1959. As can be seen on the National Library of Scotland side-by-side comparison of the 1954 OS map and current-day OpenStreetMap, 2 St Michael’s Road has since been demolished and its site is now occupied by West Croydon Bus Station. Kent’s 1955 and 1956 directories list J C & E C A Head, Cycle Dealers. John and Edmund’s first names are taken from the 1963 electoral register, where they appear as local electors by virtue of their business premises at 208 London Road (cf. earlier footnote regarding Arthur Goodall and Charles Fentiman).
- Information on the Heads’ dealing in Mini-Motors and Cyclemasters is taken from the 1951 advertisement reproduced here.
- Information on the Mini-Motor is taken from the Trojan Mini-Motor page on the Moped Archive website and the Trojan page on the Cyclemaster Museum website.
- Information on the Cyclemaster is taken from the Cyclemaster page on the Moped Archive website, the Cyclemaster entry in Grace’s Guide, and a post by flecc on the Pedelecs forum (29 April 2012).
- Post made on 29 April 2012 and quoted with flecc’s permission.
- An advert on page 11 of the 15 April 1960 Norwood News gives a list of local agents for the Raleigh Mark 2 moped, including Heads Cycles at 410 London Road, Mitcham. As noted in an earlier footnote, phone books list Heads at 208 London Road up to and including the 1985 Croydon edition.
The records of planning application 89/1914/P for a development at number 212 include a letter dated 12 July 1989 (seemingly of objection, though the microfiche is too faint to read it properly) from the Gallery, typed on headed paper reading “The Gallery / Picture Framers (Trade & Retail) / Posters, Prints & Limited Editions / 208 London Road, Croydon”. The 1988 and 1990 Croydon phone books list The Gallery, “Pictureframes [sic], Posters & Prints” at 208 London Road, while it is absent from the February 1992 edition.
At some point in 1991 a planning application (ref 91/1226/P) was lodged to change the use of number 208 to class A3 (food and drink). This describes the current use of the property as “Retail”, though it’s unclear whether this means that it was actual in active use as a shop or that the existing permitted use was class A1 (shops and retail outlets). Although the application was later withdrawn, it does suggest that The Gallery closed down around this time.
- This mandap was not created by Party Crafts — according to its caption on Flickr, the photo was taken at a wedding in India — but is included to show what a mandap actually is. At the time of writing, the Party Crafts Facebook page is still available on the internet, with many photos of similar constructions.
- Croydon phone books list Party Craft [sic] at 248 London Road from July 1993 to July 1996 inclusive, and at 208 London Road from January 1998 onward. The earlier listings at number 248 could be printing errors, or they could reflect an actual move.
The Party Crafts website is no longer online, but several Internet Archive snapshots of it (for example this one from April 2018) show that it stated the shop had “been offering service since 2003”. Information about events management and manavarai/mandaps is also taken from these snapshots. An article on page 23 of the 18 February 2011 Croydon Advertiser (“Personal touch paying off as shops stay busy”, also available via the Internet Archive) includes a mention of “West Croydon company Party Crafts” and one of its owners: “Cake decorator Sumi Arudchelvan, who helps her husband Arasaratnam run the family business”. Date of closure of Party Crafts is from personal observation; I last recorded it as being open in March 2017, and in November 2017 I took a photo of it empty and in the process of being subdivided.
As an aside, around the start of 2017 there seems to have been a food delivery business called The French Tacos operating from one of the flats above Party Crafts; bob walker ordered from it on 8 January 2017 and took some photos: cordon bleu taco with garlic sauce and goat cheese, merguez taco with harissa sauce and egg, mixed salad, and steak hachee baguette; close-up on the salad; close-up on taco and chips. The confirmation email from Just Eat gave the address as “208b London Road, Croydon, Cr0 2te”. This seems most likely to have been a delivery-only business operating from someone’s private home kitchen.
- Information about division of shop and new configuration is from both internal and external personal observation (see photo I took during the shopfitting work).
- All information on Worf Enterprises and its previous life as G J Shipping & Travel was provided by a member of staff, Mr Ray (in-person conversation, 7 November 2019).
- Information about Snow Ballz’ services and previous location in the Whitgift Centre was provided by its owner (in-person conversation, 25 June 2018).
- A 3 November 2018 post on the Snow Ballz Instagram account reads: “Bitter sweet moment as we celebrate our 1 year shop anniversary this month. We regret to inform you that the shop will be permanently closed as of from Monday! [...] we are still available for all bookings and celebrations or you can find us at one of our many pop ups!” At the time of writing, the Snow Ballz website advertises commercial ice shavers, flavoured syrups, party decor services, and bouncy castle hire. A 22 July 2019 Instagram post (since deleted) showed the owner making a snow cone at an event, with the text: “Having a celebration, birthday party, promoting an event, corporate party, shop opening, family funday whatever it may be get in touch now and see how Snow Ballz can help to make it even more memorable.”
- Date of Afghan Exchange & Travel opening was provided by Mr Sidiqi (in-person conversation, 7 November 2019), and is in line with my own observations — the premises still looked vacant in December 2018, and in August 2019 the new sign was up and I’d seen it with the shutter both down and up. Estimation of “thousands of asylum seekers” is by Mr Sidiqi — I haven’t attempted to confirm the numbers myself. Similarly, the statement that this is the only Croydon business aimed at the Afghan community is Mr Sidiqi’s opinion and not mine. List of countries is taken from the shopfront sign.