Monday, 14 March 2011

The Number 151 Route

Monday 14 March 2011

We - that's Mary, Linda and I - had never been to Wallington (Shotfield) before, but this was not a problem, as our previous bus  terminated a mere 10 metres up the road.  We were pleased to see that it was a double decker,  though later on we were to see single decker 151s in the other direction.  Our driver was having a brief break, so we had time to admire the skeleton of the new Medical Centre, and wonder if it was what local GPs would want when they get their hands on all the money.

The bus set off at 11.10, passing the attractive little Town Hall, and turning into the main shopping street of Wallington, where we were joined by a large number of passengers, most of whom stayed downstairs with their shopping.  We made a brief loop to get us to the forecourt of Wallington Station, and then headed on westward, passing the attractive white painted buildings of the Duke's Head Hotel.  Before moving on, let me state what a pleasure it is to find a pub website that actually explains the history of the place.

We headed out of Wallington, passing the rather stark War Memorial, as well as hosts of golden daffodils (to coin a phrase) though they were not particularly 'fluttering and dancing', being mostly tete-a-tetes.  We thought they were a good idea for municipal planting, being less likely to suffer wind damage, and also being less desirable as Mothering Sunday gifts.

We passed signs to the Wandle Trail, and then went over the River Wandle, which is looked after by the Wandle Trust. After going past Hackbridge Station, we went over another loop of the river.

Alongside us as we headed into Carshalton were handsome and well tended allotments (Mary being a connoisseur of such things) as well as some houses with solar panels.   We were enjoying such a beautiful, sunny day after the damp and unpleasant weekend that the panels seemed particularly appropriate.

Ahead of us now rose the vast white shape of St Helier Hospital.  Mary told us that that was where she did her Obs and Gyny rotation when she was a student, delivering her first twenty babies both in the hospital and with a sort of 'flying squad' that went out to people's homes.  St Helier was (of course) a sixth century man from (modern) Belgium who 'caused consternation with his youthful miracles' before becoming a monk and settling in the Channel Islands  The hospital itself was named for Lady St Helier, a London Alderman, and was painted green during the Second World War to avoid catching the eye of passing Luftwaffe pilots.  Opposite were swathes of wonderful daffodils, guaranteed to catch anyone's eye.  St Helier Hospital has just been given £219,000,000 for a refurbishment project, which must help the local people, who elected a Lib Dem, to understand the term 'quid pro quo'.

We approached Sutton down Rose Hill, with attractive parks on either side. We were saddened to spot the demise of the Angel pub with its whimsical sign, but a little web research demonstrates that it is not a simple story:  ordered to close for allowing underage drinking, it is now set to become a Tesco Metro.  We did see other pubs in Sutton, however:  the Winning Post which clearly used to be The Red Lion, and then the Cock and Bull.  This phrase, first recorded in 1621, means 'an improbable or unbelievable  story' so is perhaps a reasonable name for a pub, where tall tales may be told.

All the way along Sutton's speedy one way system, the buses pull off to the right, into little oases , so that passengers can get off to the left, although the bus is in the right hand land for its impending right turn.

Local landmarks included the Secombe Theatre, named for the great comedian, Goon and singer, who lived around here, and the Sutton Cricket Club.  The houses as we moved towards Cheam, were attractive and well maintained,  and  the fact that their front gardens had all been converted to hard standing was excusable, given the busy road along which we were travelling.  (The sunshine makes it hard to see the plasterwork and stained glass which we admired).

Cheam Broadway, with a neat village sign, also boasts the Harrow pub, with an archway through to what was presumably once a coaching yard,  and as we left Cheam we also noted the H G Wells Pub.  Apparently he lived 'just around the corner; which is interesting, and a sign of his long life,  as he was born in Bromley, taught in Somerset and spent his last years near Regent's Park, where there is a Blue Plaque for him.

From Cheam to Worcester Park is a very short distance, and we were disembarking in the station forecourt by 12.10, an hour after leaving Wallington.

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