Friday, 25 March 2011

The Number 156 Route

Wimbledon to Vauxhall
Monday October 26th 2009

This was our third bus on a just lovely warm October day and again a route largely in London Borough of Wandsworth – and why not?
Jo and I were on our own but joined upstairs by a couple of younger boys, it being half-term, one of whom had clearly trodden in (but not noticed?) some dog crap which gave the already none too clean bus a certain added pungency. Fortunately, unlike us, they were not going all the way. We pitied the adult who was yet to clean up, but breathed anew when they got off at Gap Road roundabout.

We had already walked through the centre of Wimbledon to get to the start of this, our only double decker bus for the day, and noted the sundial on the Argos and tennis by the station. This was something of a mystery tour as we had no real grasp of the route beforehand. Leaving the Sir Cyril Black Bus depot (turns out he was Wimbledon’s MP from 1950-1970) it turned right out of Wimbledon Town Centre and followed the railway – this means of course unexciting views down into the Wimbledon rail depots and industrial units with a big cemetery on the right. The route follows Plough Lane which we remembered as the original home of Wimbledon FC, founded 1889, before its 10-year sojourn at Crystal Palace and then eventual re-location to Milton Keynes where over the years they have metamorphosed from the Wimbledon MK Dons to just the MK Dons with their own local following. Meanwhile Wimbledon has another football club. Confused – or perhaps you don’t care? As it happens buses have a habit of passing football clubs of all shapes and sizes.   At the major road junction there were substantial amounts of new housing, most with balconies, and Homebase and furniture stores to help the first time buyers to decorate and furnish.

Across the road there was a sparkly white painted mosque and soon afterwards we were back into ‘The Brighter Borough’ and heading up the Merton Road to Earlsfield and Wandsworth. It seems Villeroy & Boch have a seconds outlet here which will be a must-go destination for Linda who has hankered after their crocks for years.

Earlsfield is something of a limbo land between more affluent Southfields and Wandsworth Common and this bus route, alongside others, passes the Wandle (perhaps we should call the 150 routes the Wandle Years?) and King George’s Park before skirting the Ram Brewery (see the 37 for a weblink) and the one-way system. At lunch time the traffic was light (this can be a terrible bottle neck in a car at the weekend and many’s the time we sat here when returning from points south) so we were up by The Book Trust (they have a lovely website) ) and East Hill before too long.

Even round Clapham Junction the traffic was flowing (the south west of London seems to have escaped the major water mains replacement which have dogged many of our recent trips) so we continued up Lavender Hill passing the Battersea library having a well earned face-lift and Battersea Arts centre ,  which produces some innovative works. Somewhat to our surprise the bus dives down Queenstown Road – the shops either side are forgettable but off to the side there are some quite desirable and presumably quieter properties. Battersea Power Station at the end of the road dominated the skyline and remains very photogenic – there have been countless projects to revitalise it but none seem to get off the drawing board and decay continues.
From there of course we passed what is now the Battersea Dogs' and Cats' Home  complete with queues of punters  (DON’T click here if you get tempted by forlorn and abandoned dogs and cats) and along the Battersea Park Road  they were just setting up the London Freeze, an Ice and Snow show not to be confused with Frieze – the annual art show. It was weird to see a ski jump in Battersea though. There is just a quick glimpse of the River before the bus turns into the noticeable/overstated Vauxhall Bus station which also looks like a ski jump.

End to end in about 50 minutes…


  1. Ahhhhhh

    I clicked on the link for the Dog's Home
    I want them all!

  2. Interesting stuff about Battersea Power Station linked to from my colleague sam's photo blog: