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Croydon 'a busy menagerie'

Winnie Agbonlahor

East Croydon

As you step out of East Croydon Station - one of London's busiest transport hubs - on this cold morning, the area's diversity becomes apparent immediately.

There is a man wearing a turban, a woman wearing a traditional African dress and headscarf, elderly women pushing mobility scooters being taken over by a small group of joggers and a large group of school children being guided to a traffic light.

The menagerie of different languages being spoken blends in with the sound of construction: drilling and hammering noises emanate from building sites on almost every corner, and Croydon's many skyscrapers and tower blocks are interspersed with cranes.

Box park

This is emblematic of the huge amount of investment Croydon has seen in recent years, and regeneration which is afoot.

There is a large police presence around the station with what seem to be sniffer dogs. "They pick up on explosives", one station worker tells me, but she is quick to add that there is "nothing to worry about" and they are "just training" them.

Croydon's wealth inequality problem

Sam Francis

BBC News, London

A general view shows a bus stop near the Goat Pub in Croydon,

London's third largest borough by area, Croydon encompasses some of the poorest and most affluent pockets of London.

According to the Land Registry Croydon is home to hundreds of million pound homes.

In 2017 buying a house on Kenley Lane, in Kenley, will set you back close to £1.9m.

The average wage in the area is £25,600, above the national average but well in to the bottom third of London earnings.

An estimated 16% of children live below the poverty line

In a walk of just two miles the average life expectancy drops 10 years.

Residents living in Selsdon, near the Croham Hurst golf club, can expect to reach 84.5 years old.

Those living in Selhurst, in the poorer northern tip, tend to make it just past 74 years old.

Frost fairs to be celebrated at museum festival weekend

Frost fair
Getty Images

London's famous frost fairs, which were held on the River Thames when it froze during particularly harsh winters, are to be celebrated at the Museum of London Docklands.

About seven frost fairs were held between 1564 and 1814, with Londoners descending on the ice to build markets, play games and cook up feasts.

The last to be held in 1814 even saw an elephant being marched across the river alongside Blackfriars Bridge.

The fairs will be marked at the east London museum with a free family festival on 21 and 22 December featuring choirs, talks, arts and crafts.

Aisling Serrant, community engagement manager at the Museum of London Docklands, said they hoped "to capture the spirit of these spectacular, winter celebrations of a bygone era".

Children serenade First Lady on Salvation Army centre visit

Melania Trump and children
PA Media

Melania Trump was serenaded with a rendition of Mariah Carey's festive classic All I Want For Christmas Is You as she visited a Salvation Army centre in east London.

The US First Lady bobbed her head slightly as around 30 children from Baden Powell Primary School belted out the well-known Christmas song.

Wearing a black and white houndstooth check coat over a black sheath dress, the wife of US President Donald Trump appeared to say "bravo" as she congratulated the ensemble.

She also spent around 20 minutes helping the school children make Christmas wreaths, using sparkly pipe cleaners, pine cones and tinsel.

Mrs Trump beamed throughout the visit, commending the Christmas hat-clad youngsters on their festivewear and chatting more generally about the festive season.

Melania Trump with child
PA Media
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