Those of you who have heard of Streatham, probably haven’t heard anything good. And that, my friends, is a crying shame – and something that I intend to put right.
First off, a lot of the people who are particularly vocal about it have never actually been to or lived in the area. They’re going off what they’ve heard and seen very briefly on a train whizzing past. And only a small proportion of it is true.
In 2002 Streatham High Road was voted the worst street in Britain, which is very sad and hasn’t helped – particularly since it was actually the longest and busiest shopping street in South London back in the ’50s. In fact, cars, horse and carriages and chariots have been rumbling up and down this particular route since Roman times – giving it rather a rich and varied heritage. The name ‘Streatham’ literally means, Hamlet On The Street (shocking, I know).
Nowadays, some of it is a little run down. There are unused buildings (which annoys me, given the current rate of homeless folk in London I feel there are much better uses these could be put to rather than sitting and stagnating and falling apart – but that’s a rant for another day) and some shabby looking shops, but frankly most streets in the UK have their shoddier looking bits and pieces at the moment, thanks to the rather painful economic deep we’ve all had to endure.
However, I love living here. There are lots of lovely bars, pubs and restaurants that I take great pleasure in exploring. The all night corner shops are particularly handy for a student life style. There are lots of buses and trains linking us to the rest of London. Supermarkets nearby make grocery shopping very easy.
There’s a whole bunch of reasons. I think perhaps it’s been unfairly vilified due to the decline it has experienced, like all places, but it deserves a reboot.
It’s also going through a whole regeneration project – with an ice rink, bowling alley (I think), Tesco, flats and gym being rebuilt – namely the ‘Streatham Hub’. There are some beautiful churches – one of which dates back to Anglo Saxon times, although only the tower remains of the original that once stood.
My favourite part of living here, however, is the common. Streatham Common. I haven’t explored this half as well as I should since I have only lived here since autumn, so we haven’t experienced the nice weather that will hopefully benefit us come later this year! But I love having the green nearby. Coming from Newcastle, I have always been able to enjoy the countryside, particularly the dramatic fells of Northumberland. I’m lucky to live in one of the largest cities in the world and still have a little bit of nature to potter around as I please. Even better, I recently discovered Streatham Common actually has a fantastic view over South West London and Surrey. Given that I love me a good view, this came as a shock since I only just found it…but it certainly put a smile on my face.
Basically, Streatham does not deserve it’s reputation. There are a lot of merits to living here, and a good night out can definitely be had – especially as Brixton is very accessible from here so one can begin the evening with a few bevys (or more than a few, as you wish) and either pub crawl up Streatham High Road or hop on a bus to one of Brixton’s famous clubs.
Therefore, I declare that: