Monday, 27 December 2010

The Number 131 Route

Kingston Bus Garage (Fairfield) to Tooting Broadway Station

Monday February 22nd 2010

We risk being boring about the weather but this was one of our chillier trips – the third in a series which had seen us waiting (yes WAITING) some 25 minutes in snow flurries for our index bus, and then cooling down further in its unheated upstairs. It left us at the Fairfield Bus Station in Kingston and with nary a moment to enjoy the delights of Kingston on our first acquaintance we stepped straight onto this 131. The upstairs was no warmer, as it happens, and Jo asked about some heating but was told it was ‘automatic’ ? Automatically off?

Kingston likes its buses so much it has 2 bus stations, and this 131, after scurrying round a series of car parks and backs of stores, erupts into the 1-way High Street complete with chain and department stores, skirts the railway station on the corner and then passes Cromwell Bus Depot – “the other one”. This driver, unlike our previous 2 women drivers, was in no mood to hang around and left runners breathless and frustrated standing on the pavement while he drove on. Kingston is technically Upon-Thames but no sign of the river as we left by the less smart bits of this particular London Borough. It seems to cluster all its social housing along the Cambridge Road which also passes the grounds of Kingstonian and AFC Wimbledon Football Clubs. [The original Wimbledon FC has been in almost as many places as us on the buses: having had its own stadium in Plough Lane, it then shared with Crystal Palace, and following that went in name to Milton Keynes where it seems to be having some success as the MK Dons; meanwhile, AFC Wimbledon is the replacement club set up by defiant fans who wanted nothing to do with “a new town in Buckinghamshire” and is now working its way up the lower divisions.] This bit of the route, though eventually taking us in the same direction was a complete contrast to the private roads that border the 57 route.

New Malden, for that is where we were, seems to host a significant South Korean population as they have several shops, restaurants and centres round here.

New Malden public library had some nice plasterwork on its side, which we failed to capture. This time we went under the A3 Kingston bypass and close to an open level crossing at West Barnes – there are both train and the outer extremes of the Croydon tram system round here and the bus route follows them quite closely. The route today which liberally provided with the new ‘POP in your postcode’ posters from tfl which offer even more interactive bus maps for entire routes ‘The Project ‘ thinks TfL only introduced these as they realized as people enter specific bus routes into Google our blog came up as a solution and to reclaim their position as market leaders they introduced the new bus route maps – well maybe.

 Back to Raynes Park, which we had passed earlier and back through Wimbledon passing again both adult and children’s theatres, both looking a little the worse for wear.

From South Wimbledon onwards of course the route follows the Northern line north passing Colliers Wood and the River Wandle, today fast and furious it was so full of water. . There are some nice walks hereabouts and some eating places to go with the walks. ‘The Colliers Tup’ seemed an odd mixture of rural and industrial heritage. Not far away are Merton Abbey Mills , where you can learn about the cloth mills that were built up and down the Wandle.
Terpsichore House caused some discussion as to its pronunciation – Terpsichore always makes me think of the dancing master in  Dickens' 'Bleak House' but we were on firmer ground with Head Hunters – yes, another hairdresser.

Back past St. George’s Hospital, which serves a huge area and dense population in SW London, and eventual end of journey opposite Tooting Broadway station. It’s always busy and the streets were heaving even on such a cold and unfriendly day so we dived down into the tube - for once really pleased to be back in fug rather than in a draft atop a cold bus.

P.S. Clearly this is one we prepared earlier - in the snowfall at the start of 2010 rather than those at the end: even we do not ride the buses during the holiday period

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