Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Number 40 Route

Aldgate to Dulwich Library

Tuesday August 4th 2009

We, being the South London posse, did this route, in its entirety of course, as a way of getting back from Liverpool Street, starting out with a brisk walk down Middlesex Street, known more familiarly as Petticoat lane – however it was quiet and not active today. It is a historic Sunday market and the Victorians felt it should be renamed rather more ‘properly’ than the descriptive label of what was on offer! As we arrived at Aldgate a very kind Number 40 driver, who was just finishing his route, gave us a lift round to the starting point of the outward bound Number 40 which we ran to catch. It is a double-decker and from the off was pretty busy even upstairs – a gentleman sat behind us seemed to be conducting his business by phone in three languages.

We recalled how shops used to be a scarcity in the City but there are now several branches of many clothes chains, particularly along Fenchurch Street – an indication of the number of women now employed within the ‘Square Mile.’ We also admired all the public clocks, and might try to photograph some more, where we can. The rain had stopped and gave us better photo opportunities from the top deck. Before we knew where we were we had passed The Monument. It is well worth the 400 or so step climb for an excellent view (the website will give you one without the effort). Then we were flying over London Bridge, with excellent views of HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge. Borough High Street has lots of character and was again busy with people on their lunch hour breaks.
The roads and streets south of London Bridge became very important as early a the Middle Ages (sorry historians this is as precise as I can get here) as it was the main southern route in and out of the City and numbers of inns and other ‘providers’ were established to cater for those travelling to and from London – and of course this was the start of the pilgrims’ way to Canterbury. Today we spotted the ‘Blue-Eyed Maid’, which is probably in its second incarnation following earlier fires.

The John Harvard Library commemorates Southwark being the birthplace of John Harvard (1607-1638), who emigrated with his 400 books but more importantly left an endowment for a college in his name.

Though the present St George’s church was built in 1736 it was close by the old Marshalsea prison. Literary references abound and much of Sarah Water’s Fingersmith is set in Lant Street. And a great read it is too.

Further down Newington Causeway we passed our second court buildings of the day – this time the Inner London Criminal Court where Mary had been called to give evidence and Roger to serve on the jury (not together!) Not surprisingly Elephant & Castle was as busy as ever and with about 26 routes calling here this has already become very familiar. Down the Walworth Road we passed more libraries and shops that we have described on earlier trips – and on down to Camberwell Green (which isn’t very) and more courts, this time the Inner London Juvenile Courts. The volume of traffic at Camberwell makes it unlovely and unlovely it has been for the last 40 years. We know that from time to time there are some attractive squares off to the side, and the buildings backing on the Maudsley are handsome but there is little of merit.

Most of Denmark Hill itself is given over to King’s College Hospital in all its shapes (dental – outpatients – sexual health – day surgery) and as local users we appreciate the skills within the seeming chaos. The bus rounds two corners to skirt the very pretty Denmark Hill station and passes the forbidding William Booth College. Someone has added a group of sculptures – wolf chasing sheep – just on the bend?

Dog Kennel Hill always feels a bit like a roller coaster – even more so from the top deck front seat but the view right out to Crystal Palace made it worth while. Past the Goose Green roundabout comes the ever more trendy East Dulwich with its indoor market at Zenoria Street and the Friday and Saturday North Cross Road Market, though Sue, as a fairly regular stall holder, had words to say about the very poor parking and loading facilities or rather the lack of them. Just before we arrived at Dulwich Library (see the start of the Number 12) we saw 2 pre-fabs filling in a bomb site with a splendid cottage garden in front.

This neat little trip had taken just on 40 minutes and brought us so close to home we could then walk the rest of the way…

1 comment:

  1. I like your line about Dog Kennel Hill being like a roller coaster. That's spot on.