No mere suburb to nearby London, Croydon is a gleaming high-rise mini-metropolis in its own right, a thriving hub of white collar industry across sectors as diverse as property, financial services and photocopier repair. Recently named as one of the dozen ‘Pertass Pilate” towns handpicked by Mary ‘Queen of Shots’ Pertass for fast-track greenhousing, Croydon continues to shoot up, with planning permission already in place for towering new edifices such as One Lambsdown Road, the world’s tallest ever UK block of flats, and future architectural acorn the Mental Tower.
The town’s humble origins belie its current status as a Mecca for business, a town of just a few hundred inhabitants at the time of the Norman Conquest, it went on to acquire a near legendary reputation for the skill of its charcoal burners, brewers, tanners and felchers – subsequently branching out into car making, metal work and casual hooliganism, and at one time boasting its very own airport (now serving the community as a giant cash and carry and a soft play centre). As well as spawning Kate Moss, Dane Bowers and Roy Hodgson, the town has its very own signature hairstyle, the famously severe Croydon Facelift.
Emerald House a charming cross-shaped block and podium slab of discretely scaled office space dating from the modern era, offers a range of recently updated and refurbished spaces at competitive rates available for immediate occupation. Extensively refitted in an attempt at ‘putting a new sparkle into a Croydon gem’, Emerald House now boasts, according to its marketing web site, “a stunning new interior designed, spacious, business lounge reception area with seating and plasma screens.” The perfect place (in the perfect urban borough), you might have thought in which to base your 105-strong mid-market trading and UK mid-market insurance operations.
But not, it seems, if you are the Republic of South Africa. Strangely blind to the manifold charms of Croydon, RSA has just announced plans to shut up shop before a new wave of riots flares up in the unbearable stifling heat of downtown Croydon this summer and shift its mid-market trading and UK mid-market operations, BBC-style, to Manchester (a much overrated Northern conurbation on the wrong side of the Pennines). Yes, a spokesperson confirmed, lots of people will, sadly, lose their jobs or be relocated to the Birthplace of Baggy. But, no, brokers and customers will never notice the difference. So, not to worry.