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Stevenage – Chav Mecca

This article has: 37 Comments
Stevenage. Even the name has chav undertones. As one of the major definitive chav breeding grounds in the UK, chavs have populated this part of the land far longer than most, due to the New Town and the surrounding suburbs (grotty council estates is a more accurate description) was primarily built to house poor working-class Londonians who would otherwise have been living on the streets in the 1950s – 60s (judging by the behaviour of chavs nowadays, some of them do pretty much live on the streets).

The town centre is practically geared up for the acceptance of chavs. It has not been properly renovated since it’s opening in the 1960s (the council have made pathetic attempts to re-pave the area, but it still looks as ghastly as ever), so looming dirty grey-stone buildings surround you wherever you go. Within the town are more cheap, off-the-back-of-a-lorry clothes shops than I care to mention (stocking all the latest chav fashions), a McDonald’s (chav staple diet), two pound shops (always busy), The West Gate Centre (dated shopping mall with no decent shops to speak of, another chav meeting place) and the almost iconic clock tower right in the centre, chav meeting place for many a-year, adjacent to McDonalds and directly opposite some rarely cleaned public toilets. A small complex was built next to the bus station a few years ago in a bid to make the town a little more upmarket, housing a Wetherspoons, Hogshead and a Yates’s (hardly upmarket), the now deceased Cobarna (chav club. Underage teens and petty violence once common, since closed due to violence and the construction of a retirement home over the road. Although why any self respecting pensioner would choose to retire to a quaint residence next to a busy roundabout is beyond me) and a gym, the only relatively non-chavvy structure there. The complex once boasted an over-25s club, but the 70s theme was most unwelcome among the 30-something chav population of Stevenage. A Mecca Bingo hall and dozens of mobile phone shops also reside in the town centre. A 24 Hour Tesco’s and Asda are situated at opposite ends of the town centre, attracting an almost endless stream of underage chavs, pleading with legal drinkers to purchase them some cheap alcohol, Lambrini and cans of a Carling seem to be most popular.

Across the road from the town centre (or over the bridge and through the train station) is the rather un-leisurely leisure park, if you choose to make your visit on a Friday or Saturday night. The park includes two Italian restaurants (Ask and Frankie and Bennys; admittedly few chavs are seen in either), a chinese restaurant (Aroma, about as classy as chavs go), another McDonalds (because otherwise there’d be a mob of angry chavs racing around the car park in their clapped out Vauxhall Nova’s) a Cineworld (typically 60% of all the UK’s pirate DVDs are originally filmed in the 16-screener), The Hollywood Bowl (bowling alley come arcade come bar – popular among chavs), Chicago Rock Cafe (expensive, so chavs tend to avoid it) and another gym. Among the deceased include clubs The Square and Academy (shut due to violence), Smilin’ Sams (arcade/bar/restaurant. Over 18s only past 7.30pm. This obviously didn’t reduce violence) and Exchange (bar/restaurant – too prissy. Unpopular among chavs). The remaining clubs are now Pulse/Vogue (Pulse 18 – 25s, Vogue over 25s) and Jumpin’ Jaks (a rather Butlins-esque type of place, popular with all types of people).

Upon leaving the town, you will find a selection of council estates, all with their own name, shops, graffiti-caked underpasses and gangs. ‘The Oval Crew’ and ‘The Bedwell Crew’ are commonplace topics heard among most chavs. Naturally all of the approximate seven council estates hate each other, and have been waging petty war for decades, armed with BB guns and mopeds. The estates look almost identical wherever you go, just like the chavs who inhabit them.

As a resident of Stevenage for nine years now (trust me, if I wasn’t a poor student I would’ve been long gone by now), I have seen the town go through many stages, metamorphosing from quite a respectable town to a down trodden cesspool, a shadow of it’s former self and almost back again. Although the town is not completely out of the woods, and I personally doubt it will ever regain it’s once adequate reputation, some positive changes have been made. New restaurants are taking the place of once seedy clubs, tougher security measures are being taken on Friday and Saturday nights to make citizens feel safer, clubs are being refurbished to attract a different type of market, possibly shifting their less than desirable reputations. As for the people, well yes in my experience I have met people with more problems than a failing communist country. However, the ’rough’ image of the Stevenage townspeople is sometimes unjustified. Despite all the people I have met who I wish I hadn’t, there are still those I’m glad to have known in my life and just because they are from Stevenage does not change my opinion of them. However I still plan to leave when I am qualified and have enough money to escape.

iLiveHere Full Crime Statistics compiled from Police data
  
  • A Stevenage resident

    I’ve lived in Stevenage all my life, sure it’s not a stunning rural area with pretty cottages and quaint shops to rifle through but its not as awful as you seem to make out. If you walk through Stevenage town centre you will find a chav or two, a teenage mum, a homeless bloke with a dog but where don’t you? I recently moved to Cambridge for university and I witnessed drunks sitting in parks letting their dogs roam around, I saw hundreds of chav’s and chav babies bobbling around and a massive group of young adults smoking weed and that was in Cambridge. So I think this post was mainly written for effect, Stevenage isn’t pretty, it does have rough areas and it has its fair share of undesirables but so does every other town I have ventured into. Whoever wrote this post seems to have enjoyed using the word chav just a little too much, written for effect, nothing more.

  • GarryScotland

    I lived in Stevenage (Shepall) in the 90s and grew up there until I moved to Scotland. Although I do agree with your point about Stevenage looking dated and in need of some love and care, I disagree with you about the crime. I still have family that live there and I never feel unsafe or think the town has gone down hill. Stop slagging Stevenage. If you don’t like it, leave. Simple.

  • davie

    so who are you an why have you not put your name alongside the crap you just wrote nothing but a gobby student

  • Yorkshire Lass

    Oh dear! Was saddened to read about the downgrading of Stevenage new town. I lived there 1954 -1960 when it was all newly built. In those days nearly all inhabitants were young married people with babies. Although the houses were all owned by Stevenage Development Corporation we didnt regard it as a council estate. only “key” workers i.e. skilled tradesmen were able to rent the houses. It was a great, safe, clean and happy place to be! So sorry that it now seems to have degenerated into a downtrodden place.

  • Ben

    I think it says it all that the author of this ‘article’ has failed to put their name to it. Quite prepared to bash the town but quite unprepared to take responsibility for their words and even unable to get basic facts about the town correct. I lived in Stevenage for 25 years and whilst the town is certainly far from perfect, it is far from the grim, glum picture the author of this article paints. I have to call into question whether they DO actually live there, or whether they are relying on hearsay and rumour.

  • Sian

    If you decide to write a long piece about stevenage pretending to know all about this ‘chav’ town please get your facts straight! The new town was built in the early fifties and was aimed at professional couples and young families not ‘poor working class londonians’. The town opened British aerospace and wanted to house the people who worked for the company. Which I hazard a guess would not be the ‘poor working class londonisns who would otherwise be on the streets’ but perhaps graduates and other professionals. You forget to mention quite a few areas in the town and most are not grotty council estates. Although as with all new developments in this country there are properties owned by the housing association within each area. There are many nice places to live in stevenage but as a poor student forced to live here (and may I ask where you study as this is not a university town therefore you must have chosen to live here rather than closer to your university) I can only assume you live in the poorer parts of this town. As with most if not all towns/cities in this country the poor areas do tend to be a little down trodden but you have the stevenage spirit all wrong. Most people are friendly caring and happy to help others, Not mindless thugs like you suggest. Although I can admit there are some chavs living here and most likely to be seen in town but seriously what harm are they doing. Well from some of your descriptions I can see this is an old price of writing and I only hope you have finished whatever course you were studying and have moved out of stevenage

  • Anon

    You are ridiculous. I have lived in Stevenage all my life. I grew up in Bedwell, moved to Great Ashby at approximately 13 years old, then moved to Symonds Green and now live in St Nicholas. All of which have been lovely places to live. If you walk around Stevenage and feel so negatively about it then please feel free to leave (The sooner the better) – your opinion is an exaggerated, one sided view and not factual, it is people like you that give Stevenage a undeserved bad name. There are no gangs any more and haven’t been for years. The ‘graffiti’ under the underpass and local to shops are in fact murals designed and created by local youths to prevent graffiti elsewhere and… has worked! Antisocial behaviour has significantly reduced over the past few years and the ‘crime’ we do get it petty and minimal.

  • Claire

    You’ve focused on all the negatives but if you actually opened your mind a little, there are nice areas of Stevenage, in fact wealthy areas so before you start slagging Stevenage off as a whole, look a bit further than the town centre and leisure park. I’m sure where whoever wrote this comes from, doesn’t live in a squeaky clean area which is full of nice shops and no housing estates? Course you do. What an idiot who wrote this.

  • Barbie

    It’s people like you that bad mouth us so called chavs that create more of a problem I’ve lived here all my life 24 years and I live 5mins from Stevenage town centre my neighbours are lovely we all help each other out and look after one another u have two younger brothers yes they fit the profile on paper to look at with the tracksuits the cars the way they talk even but if you bothered to speak to them for a second you would see what I do they are lovely boys who are always helping the elderly people In my street cutting their grass or taking out there bins ect. They both have jobs not great ones I admit they work bare minimum wadge at a sheet metal company sat in cold conditions Alday working a boring job as there are no job prospects for anyone here! They both gave girlfriends that they treat with the up most live and respect , the reason they spend money on cars and loud exhausts and as u say so called boy racers! Is due to having absolutely nothing else to do with there money or time and they actually enjoy making their little cars look nice who are you to judge them for that ! Your all so quick to slate them and be negative you judge people before you know them same thing as this town it’s not about what a place looks like if u dug deeper you will find more kind genuine nice people than bad and were can u go these days that does not have bad people ?? I love Stevenage and yes there are things that need improving but it’s the same everywhere and if people spent less time being negative and more time being positive and trying to understand us better you may get some respect back !!!