Wednesday, 21 July 2010
The Number 85 Route
My regular travelling companions were both holidaying with grand children so I had the benefit of a guest companion today – confusingly also Mary, whose specialisms include Garden History, plants and the local knowledge of living in outer South West London for all of her life.
Once aboard we crossed the Hogsmill River, almost hidden from view. By Kingston it has come quite far (Epsom & Ewell) and is about to join the Thames. In Medieval times this would have been one of the key Thames crossings outside London. Also past the Market Place so it’s quite a shock to come out by all the modern buildings with the Kingston Club Oceana and the Wilkinson chain taking over the old C&A building on a prime corner. There is the ‘ghost’ of a sign for the Empire but the cinemas are new build also – Kingston town seems somewhat to have segregated its historical bits from its modern shops.
Mary was pleased to see the very well laid-out Cromwell Road bus station (that’s what I call a proper bus station) before we rounded the corner by Tiffin School ( a mere newcomer founded well after the Grammar school) and the Lovekyn Chapel opposite, apparently presented by Elizabeth 1 to the Grammar school post Reformation. It seems a shame that both these older buildings are on such a busy thorough fare and exposed to the traffic fumes of the Kingston one-way system.
On we went past St Peter’s church closely followed by Kingston Hospital on the right – the fact that the car parks seems to loom more impressively than any ward buildings seems to say something about modern planning – it does sit quite handily close to a roundabout and range of bus routes.
Kingston University has parts of its campus up here, with superb views over towards Richmond and Wimbledon Common. According to its website it has more applications than any other London university, which is not really surprising given its proximity to London but airy feel.
The bus had made excellent time so far but this is always something of a bottle neck and we lingered awhile in the traffic at the junction of the South Circular and Putney Hill and its continuation Putney High Street. This gave us time to admire a Millenium memorial sundial with its quotation from a well known hymn identified NOT by yours truly, whose sole memorable hymn was ‘All things Bright & Beautiful’ but I digress .This, I am reliably informed, comes from verse 5 of ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’. There is a lot going on along Putney Hill: new buildings galore – a former college (according to some helpful fellow passengers) now a Marketing Site & Suite for Barratt Homes.
We liked Gentle Dental but were a bit puzzled by the Citizen Smith bar as we remembered him as hanging around rather less smart Tooting and so long ago we wondered whether modern customers would even get the reference??
Putney High Street is traditional with turn of the 19th century grand buildings clustered around its rail station but modern shop fronts with a road built wide enough for one or two trams but certainly not for a full range of buses, delivery lorries etc so progress was slow but we weren’t in a hurry and our prize at the end of the High Street is of course Putney Bridge and an excellent way to cross the Thames – today pretty full. The last church in Putney also boasts a sundial and then it’s past the Bishop’s Park and turn right to the elevated Putney Bridge Underground station, which is of course a contradiction in terms …
Fulham Palace (the Bishop of London moved out in the Thirties and Hammersmith & Fulham have used grants to restore it as a local amenity.
Just under an hour from Kingston and passing some pleasant open spaces (I can’t honestly say they were still green) and lovely trees en route.