Finsbury Park Hub to Battersea Bridge (South Side)
Thursday January 17 2019
Note the new names in this – ‘hub’ for bus station and ‘South Side’ for Parkgate Street . However same old route on a sturdy double decker that went from North to South West barely batting an eyelid – so to speak.
We had used the facilities at Finsbury Park Station remembering they are on a platform where the trains head north. As the bus was just leaving as we returned to street level we leapt on without taking any photos. Jo had just about recovered from freezing to death while I got lost behind Finsbury Square trying to find the 153 which brought us here – it had wrinkled its way through the back streets of Islington. The 19 was to go large.
So it was London Calling as Kevin told us last time we took this route.
Here’s a link to the track he referenced if you want to follow it up
‘The Twelve Pins’ which is the first pub you see in exiting the bus station looks well cared for. I thought it might be a variation of Ninepins , the old pub game, while Jo thought it might be a reference to the nearby Cotton works building and something to do with weaving – both wrong. It is named after a mountain range in Ireland and is one of several pubs round here for Arsenal supporters – like the Arsenal barber further along the Blackstock Road. Having spent the up trip admiring the pared down lines of Islington’s Georgian builds we could see these homes were of later design. Interspersed were some independent shops like ‘La Maison des Chiens ‘ for cat and dog grooming. I was quite excited by The Walnut Club until I found out it was a tanning parlour – turning an artificial nut brown not being my hobby of choice.
The workaday aspects of Finsbury Park give way to a more gentrified Highbury with a couple of handsome terraces and The Loxfords, a former mansion that had belonged to the Dents Family of glove manufacturers fter they moved on it was used as a children’s home and Family Centre – then the site was purchased and developed into housing but the handsome frontage maintained.
As the diversity of Highbury gives way to a busier thoroughfare we entered Highbury Corner still undergoing its transformation. It feels unending and painful but will presumably benefit the pedestrians and cyclists amongst us.
The 19 carries on down Upper Street to the Angel, passing all the usual and occasionally changing delights of Islington – the King’s Head and Almeida theatres , many places to eat and a whole shop outlet for Le Creuset cookware! We made good progress for a section of travel that can often be slow. ‘The Dead Dolls House’ seemed to be a very unprepossessing name for a venue – as that is what it is – so we preferred to think about Sir Hugh Myddleton with little dolphins at his feet to remind us he was the inspiration behind the New River – Islington has also given him some rather jolly spring primulas.
Once we had crossed the busy East/West route we were heading down past Sadlers Wells with its newer extension. In fact this part of Holborn/Clerkenwell seems to have become something of an area for dance education and the Urdang Academy has taken over Finsbury Town hall. The bus passes the narrower façade of Mount Pleasant, which presents rather sweetly as a post office with all the sorting and distribution facilities behind.
The Theobalds Road is a hybrid of what remains of old bits of small scale industry, service or otherwise and fringe academia. Having found the Anaesthetists’ Museum rather soporific we hope their training HQ along here is a little livelier. This passage through London seemed a good way of avoiding Lower Oxford Street
We joined the stream of traffic that snakes slowly round the one way system from Holborn to the West End – I am never sure why it is slow apart from being single lane but I want to blame ongoing Elizabeth Line works at Tottenham Court Road! The slowness did at least give us time to appreciate how lovely is the old fascia of the Umbrella shop. There is a great temptation to go in and request a sword stick perhaps?
Shaftesbury Avenue reminds one quite how many musicals are running in the West End which must be cheering for all those dancers in training.
Piccadilly has road works too and Jo said there was significant water in the hole perhaps indicating a main had been ruptured? Trouble free we continued past Green Park to Hyde Park Corner – by now the upright haka figures of the NZ War memorial were looking like old friends – I almost expect them to wave to us. We also got a full frontal view of Apsley House before turning down Knightsbridge for …Knightsbridge. Once an entrance to Hyde Park Corner station then for some time Pizza on the Park it has now morphed, at some expense I would guess, into the Wellesley Hotel.
The shops here and when the 19 turns off at Knightsbridge station down Sloane Street are of the sort where goods are not priced in the window and if you need to ask the price you can’t afford them. Also we were following a Porsche, but it was no faster than the bus.
Between the venerable mansion blocks there are some handsome squares too, notably Cadogan Place, but all locked so no public access. The Cadogan Family still own much of the land round here and from the bus you can see that Cadogan Hall takes a whole block – conceived initially for Christian Science worship it was converted and can now seat nearly 1000 people for a range of musical events.
There is more culture round the corner in the shape of the Royal Court Theatre and both are well served by Sloane Square station. On the whole this part of London is not generously provided with train or tube lines and this one is the last for a while. Once round the roundabout that is Sloane Square we headed quite smartly along the King's Road before turning left into Beaufort Street, very uniform in its red brick fullness though difficult to capture on a photo when driving straight into the sun.
We enjoyed crossing Battersea Bridge which gave us a lovely view of pretty Albert – one bridge up. The 19 stops just one short bus stop south of the river having bravely made its way through several significant entertainment and shopping streets and taking all comers in its stride. We did enjoy it.