Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Number 126 Route

Eltham Crescent to Bromley South
Monday November 22nd 2010

Bienvenue à nos lecteurs français, qui ont trouvé notre blog de Londres. Salut!

The Number 126 is very closely related to the Number 124 with at least 30% overlap on the route, particularly the bits round Eltham & Mottingham. Indeed we just got off our 124, crossed the road and waited not all that long for our 126. Back through Eltham passing first of all what looks the outline of a reservoir sited close to the road but suitably protected, then along the Chequers Parade, so named for the pub of that name, The Chequers Pub.

Eltham is a mixture of some key older buildings in amongst more mundane shopping parades. The Library has obviously been cleaned up quite recently, though there seems also to be a library in the New Eltham Civic Centre just visible from the main thoroughfare.

At the High Street crossroads we noticed there was a complete Snooker Hall for rent above the McDonalds – but no time to debate whether the coloured balls were losing their allure before we turned left towards Mottingham, passing as we went the main approach to Eltham Palace.  Don’t let its name mislead you: this tourist attraction is more of a magnificent Thirties home (wonderful art deco, much used as a location for period films and TV) built round a medieval hall. Beware of visiting on Saturdays as you may find yourself stopped in your tracks by a bouncer keeping out unwanted guests from weddings!

Like our companion number, the recently-blogged 124, this route cuts a swathe through the Mottingham Estate,where the LCC (London County Council) had bought up the then Court Farm, now just remembered in the street name, in order to build homes for those made homeless by war-time bombing.

In Chinbrook we passed over a large stream, which we assumed to be the Chin: however, it proves to be the Quaggy River, which trickles its way through Lewisham borough, which we were about to enter briefly. The Marvels Lane woods, part of the Green Chain walk, also back onto a series of playing fields belonging to public (that is private schools) both local and not so local. Dunkery Road comes out by Grove Park Station, opposite which is the very desolate looking  Baring Hall hotel,
which had burnt down over a year ago perhaps feeling solidarity with Barings Bank, and banks in general , one of whose founders was still visible on the pub sign. Dangerous structures indeed, whichever way you look at them.

From here the run into Bromley was pretty nippy, made even faster by the suppression of some bus stops due to road works. As ever this was a route used by shoppers – boarding at Eltham to get home to Mottingham, or at Grove Park to go shopping in Bromley.

This route approaches down Burnt Ash Lane and passing Plaistow Cemetery – the name of the latter (there is also a Plaistow Green) confusing Jo who knows Plaistow as being close to the East and West Hams, but Plaistow it is. This northerly bit of Bromley is called Sundridge Park and seems to consist of the most enormous golf course and a few sizeable houses to match, but the bus of course does not penetrate that far, heading on into Bromley Central past the rather insignificant station that is Bromley North with trains to nowhere in particular in contrast to the variety of buses on offer. But then as a lady who buses I would say that.

We glimpsed a blue plaque to Prince Piotr Kropotkin in Crescent Road, which tickled me no end: the incongruity between Kropotkin’s anarchist views and the sobriety and consumerism that is Bromley today are such poles apart. Even Edwardian Bromley, and he lived here for almost thirty years, must have been pretty respectable. Like in Conrad’s ‘The Secret Agent’ you expect your anarchists to live somewhere more louche.

Bromley is anything but louche, and even today many shoppers were preparing for Christmas clutching bags of tinsel and rolls of wrapping paper. The front face of the Glades Shopping Centre and the High Street are strictly pedestrian only with all buses etc sent down Kentish Way between parking and shopping with its little tube to join them safely.
As we approach winter and darkness I have tried to include as much colour as I can, so enjoy winter berries and the excellent flower stall on the forecourt of Bromley South station – a much more impressive hub with frequent trains, including one to suit us. This bus very nearly hit its target journey time of 35 minutes – not bad for the distance it covered.    

1 comment:

  1. A couple more 'benevolent' comments.

    You might (I suppose) have come across Chequers Parade but you wouldn't have passed the pub before you turned left at Eltham Church because it's a few hundred yards further down the High Street towards Eltham Green.

    And it would be more accurate to describe the development as 'the new Eltham Civic Centre' because New Eltham is a separate community a couple of miles away.