Mary & I had arrived at the starting point of the Number 80 route, and reading that it came every 12 minutes were all ready to start eating our sandwiches when one (a single decker) suddenly appeared round the corner and we just about had time to grab our passes and board. No time for any photos of the area! On our gentle walk up the hill from Belmont Station where had left the 80’s close relative the 280 we had passed a road sign rarely seen inside London, and this of course indicates that this was one of the trips taking us from the outer edges of the TfL domain.
The isolation is of course why in1877 the Victorians chose to build a ‘lunatic asylum’ to safely house the ‘mad of Middlesex’ and I can still remember Banstead hospital on this site as it is still shown in our A-Z (not quite the latest edition…) Closed in 1986 there are now 2 Category C prisons on the site. Looking at the number of parked cars it’s clear most of the staff don’t use the bus and sure enough we were the only passengers until passing the impressive (in all senses) Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton hospital and some allotments.
Most of our fellow travellers were heading for Sutton town centre /station, including some 17 year olds casually discussing that ‘granny was to pay for the £3000 car, one parent the insurance the other the cost of driving lessons’ so he won’t be on the bus for much longer. Going north the routes go past the back of Sutton High Street and its shops but rather more scenically than the south route.
Anyway this is a comparatively back street bus and we soon turned left past the sizeable Sutton bus garage towards Sutton Common and Morden, with a brief foray on the A217. There were substantial amounts of inter-war era housing and at Morden Park (NOT to be confused with Morden Hall Park ), which comes before the very end of the Northern line at Morden. Mary was clearly getting a bit homesick as she thought we might get the tube and ride home, but this was NOT the end of our trip.) We passed Merton Technical college and its students flooded onto the bus.
Truth be told this was more of a people bus than a places bus. Passengers greeted one another – sadly the youngsters made some racist observations between themselves and the passenger seated behind us was curious enough to ask what we were up to.
Our replies then triggered a certain amount of teasing from the students who clearly felt they ought to point out the local landmarks ‘This is the stop where the bus sometimes terminates’ or ‘You’ll be needing your Satnav’ They were closer to the truth than they knew as I was quite confused that we seemed to be heading BACK into Sutton at one point but actually crossing the main road to deliver more passengers home.
A single decker is very intimate and there was no hiding the fact we were trying to take photos which prompted some posing also. By the time we were back on the very extensive, garden city style St. Helier estate, Mary told them she was most impressed with the estate’s evident keen support for the England team – just about every other house had a flag – they were quite tickled that we had photographed one of their homes.
The estate is quite extensive and the 80 is one of its key routes. We crossed the River Wandle again and stopped at Reynolds Close – by this time the driver was curious too but happy to be photographed next to his vehicle. By now we had arrived in Hackbridge/Bedddington .
‘Strange smell’ said Mary – on almost all maps there is a huge blank space hereabouts which proves to be the Beddington Sewage Works . I leave you to decide whether this was fitting end to one of our more diverting (but not diverted) trips.