Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Number 44 Route

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Linda and I met at Victoria, Mary having a prior engagement with the dentist, and we spent a little time working out where the head stop for the 44 was: confusing as it stops twice within about 30 metres, but we purists know what's right, and were aboard from the right place by 10.40. We felt quite at home with many of the buses around Victoria: this was not the first time we had been down Buckingham Palace Road and past the flattened piece of land which is testament to what happens when the Prince of Wales does not like a building plan for Chelsea Barracks. Some of the build was supposed to be affordable housing. Ho Hum. Over Chelsea Bridge we went, with the river grey and bleak, and past the great QVC building. Why, we wondered, does a TV shopping channel need such prime real estate?

The new buildings at St James' Grove are apparently all completed and sold, and the old Battersea Park Board School has gone the same way. (actually, at £480,000 for a one bedroom flat (gulp), this link may not be there for long) There is an amazing amount of riverside property going up.

We came to the Latchmere, where Eliza acted a few years ago, and then were passing what used to be the Price's Candle Factory and shop (and is clearly still a candle place) Old York Road had a range of quite fancy shops and an area where the roadway had been replaced with brick, always a sign of an area on the up. Along past Southside and into Garratt Lane, with the Wandle flowing nearby, and we came to that other piece of evidence of encroaching respectability, a Waitrose. We wound along the Lane, passing the Old Sergeant Pub, with its splendid sign.

Soon we were in Earlsfield, and passing Battersea and Wandsworth TUC, founded in 1894 and still campaigning. The Diprose Lodge Almshouses were part of the St Clement Danes Charity, but have now been modernised and are for sale. We noticed a plethora of flower shops near the cemetry opposite the almshouses and on towards Tooting Broadway Station, but things were getting less wealthy, with pawnshops and shops selling clothes 'from 99p' as well as the compulsory Primark. Nevertheless, clearly property here is desirable, and estate agents keen.

After Amen Corner (pronounced Ay-men not ah-men, I gather) and St Boniface's Church, we reached Tooting Station, whence trains would take you to Luton Airport Parkway, if you wanted. We arrived inside the hour, and merely had to cross the road to get a different bus back towards the river.

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