Croydon community claim victory in Lake Conan Doyle row


South Norwood Tourist Board unofficially named the lake after the creator of Sherlock Holmes.


By Cara Cummings

Organisers of a controversial naming ceremony for a South Norwood lake have hailed the event a victory after council opposition failed to materialise.

The Febuary 1 celebration, held by the South Norwood Tourist Board to unofficially honour Sherlock Holmes creator and Croydon resident Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, drew a record turnout for the community group.

Over 100 supporters gathered in South Norwood Country Park to enjoy Morris dancing and poetry, in defiance of the controversy.

“It’s a victory for us and the area,” said Richard Lamy, 32, a  co-founder of the SNTB.

“South Norwood doesn’t get much of a look in where Croydon Council is concerned.”

At the climax of the pagan-inspired ceremony, poet Tim Wells read a sonnet penned for the occasion before opposition councillor Paul Scott lead the crowd in chanting the lake’s new ‘name’.

Sparks flared over the plans to give it Sir Arthur’s title just days before the event was due to take place.

Tony Brooks, Croydon Council’s head of public safety, refused to sanction the unofficial celebration, claiming the SNTB failed to follow required consultations.

A council spokesman said: “There is an ongoing discussion as to where it’s going from here.”

The SNTB strong refuted Brooks’ claim on Saturday.

“Over 1100 people voted in our online poll,” said Jason Cooper, 42, another group co-founder.

“You tell me, would the council have a bigger consultation than that? It’s bureaucracy gone mad. They will have to arrest us all to stop us getting to the lake.”

But Cooper did thank Brooks for one thing – unexpected publicity.

“If it had not been for that, who knows how many would have turned up? Probably three men and their dogs,” he said.

For many of those gathered, the Conan Doyle connection mattered less than the community spirit on display.

Chloe Bridge, of Addison Road, brought her  family. “There’s a real sense of            community in South Norwood but you don’t often see it,” said the mum-of-two.

“It’s nice to actually celebrate the area for once.”

Think-tank employee Charlie Bowyer, 22, agreed.

“Look around – we might not be the richest, or the prettiest place in the world, but it’s full of lovely people,” he said.

“It’s South Norwood spirit!”

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