Kingston (Cromwell Road Bus Station) to Chessington World of Adventures Tuesday April 6th 2010
The Number 65 (see earlier) having left us in a Kingston side street off the main shopping drag, we walked to the more streamlined of the two bus stations at Cromwell Road where we boarded, along with a few passengers of school-age, bound for fun at the end of the line. It was clearly school holiday time.
Very pleased to be back on a double-decker bus, we enjoyed our superior view of Kingston as we threaded through the town following the quite fierce and extensive one-way system. Close to the bus station you can just see the ghost of an older Bentalls, now flats. (Today’s bus did not past the current revamped store.) The precincts were very busy and several passengers boarded loaded down with their spring finery purchases. Tempted but not that much we progressed through Kingston, passing en route evidence of Civic Pride in both the Crown Court which has hosted some pretty high profile trials of late, likewise the adjacent handsome Town Hall When we emerged we were headed in the direction of Surbiton, which while ostensibly a suburb of Kingston is still very much a place in its own right – the bus did not do much stopping round here as the residents clearly walk or use cars, but slowed through the Surbiton High street, nicely tended with abundant daffodils, and older buildings thoughtfully recycled into the ubiquitous Pizza chains or Building Societies. Research indicated that Surbiton Station was used as a location for ‘Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince’.
As we left Surbiton via the fringes of Tolworth the scenery changed abruptly into the rather bland and slightly tired looking ‘ribbon’ development that had grown up (and died by the look of several pubs) alongside the busy arterial roads hereabouts. The Hook roundabout is big enough and in fact goes over the multi-lane Kingston by-pass below and the 71 keeps up its speed along this route passing rapidly through Chessington North before heading off the to the right and uphill to Chessington South. We confessed to being rather disappointed as the Tfl South West map (and we were very much on the fringes of London travel) looks all ‘green and fairly empty’ but is in fact pretty built up and has been for some time – all rather reminiscent of the North Circular which was a bit disorientating, as we were about as far away as we could be from that.
Just close to Chessington South there had been some redevelopment – a new Community College (with pupils keen enough to be doing some Easter revision classes by the look of it) and a very extensive Business Park. Once past these buildings the bus draws into the front of Chessington World of Adventure – originally just a zoo but now one of the premier adventure parks. The ‘Welcome to Chessington’ guides looked slightly surprised when two ladies ‘of a certain age’ disembarked without grandchildren, and possibly relieved when we turned round to march back to the nearby rail station. At Kingston they had estimated the journey as taking 23 minutes – 29 would be closer for while the distance covered is significant the Number 71 can belt along quite happily for long stretches without having to stop.