Monday, 28 March 2011

The Number 157 Route

Crystal Palace Park Parade to Morden Station
Monday March 21st 2011

We hoped Mary’s first day of Spring in Guernsey was as springy as ours bussing round South London. We had the usual no-wait start for our 157 at Crystal Palace Bus Station and headed off down the very steep Anerley Hill – unlike last week when we were on a single decker this double decker afforded an excellent view down to Croydon and what was probably Elmers End. The bus passes Crystal Palace Overground and Rail Station, which is really pretty from the outside as its Victorian exterior (built for the 1851 Great Exhibition) has been nicely renovated, at a cost of about £4million. However, once inside it is a nightmare of stairs and steps, both up and down to get to most platforms, and as yet no sign of a lift.

This was known as the low level station (it is in fact 2 bus stops down the hill from the highest point and there once was another station closer to the top, remnants of which are still visible.

So we enjoyed the view, which is rather more inspiring than Anerley High Road, though the roads back are pleasant. Just before the crossroads, still known by locals as the Robin Hood although the pub which gave this crossroads its name is no more, we noted the once-impressive municipal build that was Anerley Town Hall, now seemingly sold off and privatised by Bromley Council, who sometimes forget that Penge is in their borough. Other shades of faded London include the ghost sign along the Croydon Road. Painting on brick seems to last quite well so maybe the pupils at nearby Harris Academy were likewise inspired to paint murals on the school wall?


The bus made very good time through Norwood Junction and we were treated to more views as we headed down to Selhurst . Once you get off the hilltops this whole area is very heavily railed – Norwood Junction, while no Clapham Junction, has significant lines in and out while Selhurst, which we passed also, is a major depot where I suspect (what do I know about trains?) spare trains get tucked up for the night, if we’re lucky, after a nice clean…

We have been through Croydon quite often so will keep my comments short – one novelty today was a small dirigible/barrage balloon advertising a STORAGE firm; we can only think that the proliferation of smallish flats round here, and the building seemed stalled on some of them with evidence of rusting scaffolding and abandoned sites, means that living space is so tight inside the appartments that you need to have most of your possessions in a nearby lock-up?

There was me thinking as we emerged from our little detour into West Croydon Bus Station that this part of Croydon was getting quite alternative what with Swag Records and Forbidden Planet but I see the latter is part of a chain of similar stores round the country.

We crossed behind Centrale Shopping centre and the various tram routes by Reeves Corner, with its furniture store just about hanging in there. Interestingly many of the smaller industrial and trading units have been given over to religion of a particularly inflammatory kind – the Missions of Mountains of Fire and Miracles plus some more watery ones also.

After Waddon Station and Fiveways Corner we were heading confidently for Wallington, and at this point the bus stated dawdling: whether it had got ahead of itself or made better time through Croydon than the driver anticipated, who knows?

Certainly by now the trip felt much les pressurised, fewer passengers and the neighbourhoods through which we passed far less built up. Wallington seems to be a place of two halves; the more modern Wallington closer to the station has some faded shopping parades, a village hall that looks as though it might have been a cinema, and a town hall – all very much in the suburban art deco style, interspersed with more modern buildings – supermarkets and starter flats, that are yet to be fully occupied. The more villagey parts of Wallington cluster round the Green , from where Wallington merges into Carshalton, with the local Museum for Sutton – Honeywood House – situated by the pretty little ponds. The roads were leafy, burgeoning spring blooms of magnolia about to pop, and very gracious homes either side of the road, as the 157 made its sole way up Wrythe Lane, past Carshalton High School and the local MP’s office – a Lib Dem called Tom Brake – possibly the most unpopular party and those people who voted for them now participating in the anti-cuts rally.

We were a bit surprised to see a holder, which seemed too small for gas compared to several we have seen, but as I far as I can tell, still operational. We arrived, still taking our time at St Helier Hospital, and in the intervening week since we passed on the 155 last week, ALL the daffodils opposite the hospital’s main entrance had opened. They were so bright they made the visibility jackets of the A & E staff lurking by their ambulances look positively pale and uninteresting.

The 157 did another turn round the Rose Hill roundabout but rather than heading for Sutton we took the very straight and impressive St Helier Avenue, which is a red route; the bus paused several times so it was easy enough to photograph the dual carriageway, nicely landscaped and the safely quarantined bicycle path.

We followed the red route down to Morden Hall Park, a National Trust property, and then at the next roundabout to Morden – the end of the Northern Line, and the opportunity to board a whole lot of other buses!

This route does quite a significant dip south into some of what used to be the old Surrey villages, so offers quite a contrast between the high rise blocks of Central Croydon and the village ponds of Carshalton taking in a few large housing estates too.

1 comment:

  1. I read this with interest as the 157 passes right by my house in Selhurst. Sad to think that only 5 months later part of Reeves Corner was burnt to the ground in the riots. I shall now check out a few other routes that I know. All the best, Daren