Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Number 77 Route

Tooting Station to Waterloo Station
Tuesday November 24th 2009

This route proved to pair off nicely with the 44 which had brought us to Tooting RAILWAY station – Tooting being more famous for its 4-square on the Northern Line it was interesting to discover that there is a train line too that goes from Sutton as a Capital Connect right up to Kentish Town and Luton. Jo resisted the urge to return home more swiftly and we admired the variety of individual, as opposed to chain shops that dot this part of Tooting – catering (and I mean catering as most are eateries of one kind or another) to the diverse population. Some of the quirkier examples included Rick’s CafĂ© (there’s me thinking Casablanca) but if offers weekly ‘Haggis, neaps and tatties’ opposite the Tooting Progressive Club and the rather splendid St Boniface Church.

When our 77 had stopped bullying the 270 in front of us, it behaved quite nicely and on several occasions along the way paused to let ‘runners’ catch up. Wandsworth borough seem to be cleaning and restoring their libraries as both the Tooting and the Lavender Hill ones were encased in scaffolding. We waited (actually we lurked as there was no ‘This bus is being held’ announcement) at the bottom of Garratt Lane which gave us time to think about how it really was a proper lane, and that we could imagine it with not only cows along it but horses and carts. For the most part the remaining old houses are the smaller, turn of the century workmen’s cottage type Many of them have been shop-fronted and today was our day for catching hairdressers again – down here we had ‘Clean Cuts’ and ‘Hair Republic’ with more to come in Battersea**
Earlsfield is of course the ‘up and coming bit’ of this part of the world as the evidence of upmarket diners, tended window boxes and larger villas indicated. After Earlsfield train station the 77 turns right and for a while is the only bus climbing the hill up to Wandsworth Common and the splendours of Spencer Park – we noticed a lovely villa ‘The Station Master’s Lodge’ which stood out in size from its neighbours – no doubting the pecking order in Victorian London. The bus goes alongside the rail approach from the south west and allowed us to see properly the memorial erected to the victims of the Clapham rail disaster. We presume Windmill Road had one once.

Once round the corner that is the Clapham Junction shopping area (and bus hub) we carved a pretty much dead straight line along Lavender Hill with its arts centre, Magistrates Courts, and multitude of estate agents and mixture of interior design and exterior make-overs by which I mean ‘Hair Disciples’, ‘Crew Cut’ and ‘Cut Point’. . The Christmas lights had been attached to the lampposts and it was so grey today they were already switched on at mid-morning but we were lucky to complete the trips today without rain.

Gradually Wandsworth borough gives way to Lambeth (along the Wandsworth Road as it happens) and by now the 77 was filling up nicely. There were some specialist shops (not as adult as those spotted on the 43) but SF, Mystery Collectibles and some small studios adjacent to Larkhall Park. At times the views to the left were very extensive, sweeping down over many many rooftops and railway lines – too built up to see the river though. Another more modest set of almshouses caught our attention and in contrast the very modern building that used to be a college and now seems to be under non-educational redevelopment.

We did our now familiar little tour of Vauxhall bus station and the little Brunswick House before carrying on in a straight north east direction passing Vauxhall Bridge, and the much more attractive Lambeth Bridge, complete with Mr Tradescant’s pine-apples atop the end pillars (? brackets) that hold the bridge up, as he and his son lived /worked and were buried close to here – the Museum of Garden History commemorates their work also. The upper deck allows a very good view of the Lambeth Palace gardens and the lovely old Palace which rather shows up the bland buildings that seem to house shipping offices or some such. The wind was whipping up the water and the poor little Duck tour was bobbing about.on the Thames. Sometimes when it’s windy they suppress the London Eye but today it was turning though missing a pod (or Eye-pod, as Jo said) and coming at it from this direction gave a strange pylon like impression… St Thomas’s, which has absorbed the Evelina from Guys in its new buildings, was visible and we were astonished at how nearly complete the round building is which has replaced the old GLC extension in the middle of the huge roundabout at the end of Westminster bridge. Somewhat to our surprise and pleasure the 77, and it may well be the only route to do so, squeezes its way down the back of the South Bank venues to finish at Concert Hall approach, handy for both culture and convenient onward travel.

A pretty neat trip and just under the hour it estimated – strong on haircuts less so on blue plaques!


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  2. If memory serves the 77 was not one but 4 slightly differing services in the 70s when I lived in the part of the world where it started/terminated. Afraid I can't remember which is which but they were numbered 77, 77a/b/c and served Raynes Park and Wimbledon in the South and as far north as Kings Cross and St Pancras.

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