Perusing Purley

February 16, 2011

Travelling from Wallington to Purley on the 127 bus, we passed through some lovely neighbourhoods. Large detached houses with green front gardens, the somewhat hilly area provided some nice views. Some children were walking, dressed in their school kits; this all provided a feel that was definitely bespoke of “the idealist suburb”, discussed in Do the suburbs exist? Discovering complexity and specificity in suburban built form (Vaughan et al, 2009, p. 483-484).

The main high street, again a linear road lined with commercial properties, a juxtaposition was apparent. It was noticeable that there were three charity shops in a row on this side of the street, traditionally low rent units. We could also see that the rear of the building had been adapted for more specific trades (see photo) photocopying services, arts and crafts and hobby shops. We also noted that above the shops smashed windows gave the impression that the buildings upper floors weren’t occupied or used intensively. A shopping arcade was well integrated into the main streets, as they formed a triangle with the arcade in the centre. As you walk through it, you end up in a courtyard with a café and a small clock tower, and though it was a drizzling a little that day, people were still sat outside having a coffee and relaxing.

Outside of this triangle, though, there was a busier feel. Lots of cars on roads with difficult crossings; this trapped pedestrians in the triangular town centre – isolating shops that may be a bit beyond. Perhaps Purley is a town with A roads that motorists must pass through to get to other destinations; regardless, a giant Tesco was clearly built with them in mind and not those who may have to walk over to it.

Just beyond the town centre, and past the railway bridge, were a few shops and houses that definitely gave the feeling of “the other side of the tracks”. The stores were more industrial and the buildings were a more run down. By being corralled in the town centre by the busy roads, maybe these were in decline due to people not being able to easily get to them.

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