The London skyline is littered with architectural gems from the Shard to the Eye to the Gherkin but if you were to turn your gaze south your eyes will fall upon the Crystal Palace transmitting station. A more humble, more utilitarian structure perhaps, but no less stunning. It stands apart from the hubbub of the city on Crystal Palace Park, looking like the fragile daughter of the Eiffel Tower.
British weather withstanding, it stands as a prominent beacon on the London horizon. Despite this, the area of Crystal Palace itself is often overlooked.
#VillageLondon took the short journey from Victoria to see what Crystal Palace has to offer the movers and sellers of the capital.
The Epic Area
Unlike most places in London, stepping out of the train station at Crystal Palace doesn’t drop you in the centre of the area. Instead you’re greeted by the sprawling, stunning majesty that is Crystal Palace Park. Where else can you find a park that boasts an athletics centre, a zoo and DINOSAURS! Throw in some of the most epic views of London and Crystal Palace Park is a huge draw to the area.
It’s changed a lot for the better in the time I’ve been here. The community has grown so much in that time, so many people are moving here these days. There’s real variety.Alicja of Your Style Boutique
The Times They Are A Changing
Local stylist Alicja of Your Style Boutique knows this all too well, “People come from all over London to be here.” Alicja has lived in Crystal Palace for 13 years, setting up her boutique here five years ago. In that time she’s seen the area go through speedy change.
She says, “It’s changed a lot for the better in the time I’ve been here. The community has grown so much in that time, so many people are moving here these days. There’s real variety. Every week I gain roughly six new clients who find me online. The more people who move here, the more my business grows which is wonderful.”
Alicja knows the importance of the community she’s part of, pointing out that she has a roster of regulars who come in to have their hair styled along with a good catch-up.
Catering To Specific Needs
Down the road, Matthew McDonough, who runs Talbot Frameworks, a bespoke bicycle shop in the heart of Crystal Palace, captures the area when he says “I remember when Crystal Palace was not the place it is today. It was quite rough but London has changed so much. We know the locals around here, we know the other shop owners in the area.”
It is also a focal point for cycling enthusiasts. “A lot of people set off for bike rides from Crystal Palace. There are a lot of bike clubs that meet at weekends at Café St Germain to set off from there. People use Crystal Palace for training: going up and down the hills.”
Most people would benefit from something a little more tailored to their specific needs.Matthew McDonough - Talbot Frameworks
Matthew specializes in making custom bikes and believes, ‘most people would benefit from something a little more tailored to their specific needs.’
Anything But Flat
Someone who agrees is Simeon Pearl who works in Good Taste Food And Drink. Having lived all over London, Simeon settled in Crystal Palace nine years ago, and he waxes lyrical about it. He says, “This area has a little of everything, it’s friendly for everyone, no matter your background or life choices. So much of London is flattening out from the point of view of the people living there, it makes it dull. It hasn’t gone too far that way here, which means there’s still a lot of character and diversity. Who knows where it might go in the future but right now it’s got a lovely warm vibe.”
It’s normally at this point in #VillageLondon where we try to wrap things up by telling you that Crystal Palace is an area full of energy and chock-full of things to do for all ages and interests. This is true but this week we’re going to let Simeon do that for us, because he puts it in a way that only someone who knows and loves the area can:
I’m not saying Crystal Palace is some kind of utopia, but it’s a damned fine example of what London can do well.Simeon Pearl - Good Taste Food And Drink
Some local area knowledge from Property Detective:
The Crystal Palace area around Westow Hill Has:
- 14 Good to outstanding State Primary Schools
- 16 Good to outstanding State Secondary Schools
- Is represented by Labour MP Steve Reed
- Property Detective rates the area as a 48% good place to start and raise a family, putting it in the top 60% of places in the country.
- Property Detective rate the area as good for nights out especially if you are a foodie or a culture vulture.
And then there's the view...
It was a particularly grey London day that we visited but still, the view from Crystal Palace matches any you'll find up on the heaths of North West London where houses set you back millions. Which way will Crystal Palace go? We don't know for sure but what we do know is that right now it's a part of London that maintains its own unique identity and will do all it can to hang onto it.