Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Croydon a year on after the riots
Prince Charles enjoyed a pint of Croydon’s best as he and the Duchess of Cornwall went on a tour of the town.
The Royal couple visited Matthews Yard, the co-working space set up by Saif Bonar, where the Prince pulled a pint of Cronx Standard and then had a swig much to the delight of founders Simon Dale and Mark Russell.
It is the first brewery in Croydon for more than half a century and the pair said the Prince was very impressed with their beer, which is also sold at Crystal Palace.
Mark Russell, 29, said: “He really liked the beer, he was really impressed with it. He said he could only have a sip and was worried who would drink the rest of it. He didn’t want it to go to waste.
“We have kept the glass he used. That will be getting a pride of place in the brewery.”
Simon Dale, 30, added: “He pulled a very good pint. He was really easy to talk to and when we were explaining how we make our beer he compared it to making a cup of tea.”
The Prince and Duchess started off the day at the Croydon Voluntary Action Resource Centre, where they were greeted by the Mayor of Croydon and the Council’s leader Mike Fisher.
Musicians from Praise House Church, the Endurance Steel Band and the Oduduwa Talking Drummers all played music before the pair went inside the building.
Once inside, they met businesses and people who had been affected by the riots. The last time the Royal Couple visited the borough was the day after the riots in August 2011.
The Duchess of Cornwall spoke to riot victim Charlene Munro, 31, who explained to the Duchess what life had been like in the year after the riots.
Her son Cam’ron, four, had received a toy from the Duchess in the months following the riots as many of his had been destroyed.
She said: “I was just explaining to her that it has been an extremely hard year and that the compensation we have received has not been good.
“She was lovely. It shows that she cares and she is thinking of everyone. I can express my opinion to her.”
Following their visit to London Road, the pair then went to Surrey Street Market and Matthews yard.
The Royal Couple chatted to stall owners and shoppers as they made their way down the historical market.
The Duchess also paid a visit to the Mad Ass stall where she bought a bottle of their hottest sauce, Dare Ya, for her son Tom Parker Bowles.
Ashley Hazelwood, one of the co-owners, said: “She was a very pleasant and affable person. She showed great interest in the chilli sauces.
“Her son loves it apparently so she bought our hottest sauce, we gave her a gift pack as well.”
They then visited Matthews Yard and spoke to high street aficionado Mary Portas, who was in Croydon to talk about her new plans for the Old Town area.
Saif Bonar, who runs Matthews Yard, said the whole experience was surreal but enjoyed showing the couple round the newly renovated space.
The couple’s last stop was Croydon College and they were greeted by hundreds of cheering students as they arrived at the main entrance to the building.
Once inside, they went and spoke to students and teachers from a variety of disciplines, including fashion, hair and beauty, plumbing and construction.
The Duchess of Cornwall tried her hand at applying some make up and chatted to apprentices about their plans for the future.
Georgia Wishart, 22, who was one of the models the Duchess applied make-up on, said: “She did a great job and was very gentle.
Clare Price, hair and beauty team leader, said: “It was really exciting. She was really pleasant and it is a fantastic experience for the students and brilliant for the apprentices as well.”
The Prince of Wales spent some of his time with students and apprentices from construction and plumbing. The Prince even had a go at bending some copper.
Tommy Jarvis, 22, who is in his second year of his plumbing course, said: “I was a bit nervous. I talked to him about plumbing and showed him how to bend copper.
“He told me he had had his Weetabix in the morning and said everyone is after the copper nowadays.”
The Royal Couple then finished off their tour by unveiling a plaque to mark the opening of the University Centre.
Croydon College’s Principal and Chief Executive, Frances Wadsworth said she was grateful to have Their Royal Highnesses visit the college and said it was a proud day for Croydon.