Thursday 23 June 2011
We turned into the smart streets of Richmond centre, where we noted a number of specialist underwear shops, and where even Ted Baker has a 'heritage' looking building. A few more people got on here, including a lady who asked whether West Brompton - our bus's destination - was close to Fulham. We hissed 'no' to each other, but the driver said yes, Fulham Palace Road was part of the route. And so indeed it proved, with the passenger in question travelling all the way to West Brompton with us.
We found the tiled name of the Don Fernando Tapas Bar more attractive than the dull exterior of Richmond Station: their menus look pretty attractive, too.
Along here there were many H-for-Hounslow buses, indicating, like the planes overhead, that we were in West London. They are, however, some way away as far as the project is concerned. We were travelling through a real London mix of housing, some handsome mid victorian and possibly earlier properties, as well as lines of red brick terraces.
But there was also a considerable amount of new building going on, including The Glassworks, which proves to be a development for the Notting Hill Housing Trust, aimed at people who would not normally be able to afford North Sheen. We also saw signs to the London Wetland Centre. It would have been fun to get off the bus and go and see the avocets, breeding here in fresh water, a world first over the past few years, but we'll leave that until we are on the bus that serves the Centre.
On our left was North Sheen Cemetery, a huge expanse (three bus stops long, as Linda pointed out) behind neatly trimmed hedges which is followed immediately by Mortlake Cemetery where, among others, Sir Arthur Bliss is buried. That brought is to Chiswick Bridge, an unusual river crossing for us, and to Duke's Meadows. This looks as if it has been a green open space since the dawn of time, or at least a time when Dukes were prominent, but in fact it used to be the site of industries from shoe polish to gravel and ship building, before becoming the attractive green space it now is.
We were the only bus along past Chiswick House, and again were tempted to hop off and see how the gardens have developed since our visit last summer. English Heritage have restored the gardens to something like their original splendour, though last year it was still looking a bit new and raw. Still, another time... The same applies to Hogarth's House, which is just around the corner.
Hogarth has given his name to the unattractive roundabout, with the tinny flyover taking cars towards the A4. The scenery is slightly improved by the Fuller's Pub (the George and Devonshire) and former brewery. We turned left into Chiswick Lane, rather than following the A4 directly into Hammersmith, which meant that we passed the headquarters of the Rambert Dance Company as well as a lowering number of boarded up shops, unexpected in this apparently prosperous area.
We were into and out of Hammersmith Bus Station in less time than it takes to say 'upper level', and heading southwards along Fulham Palace Road. On our left were buildings of the Guinness Trust, and on our right, properties of the Peabody Trust, as though housing philanthropists had shared a brainstorm and decided that Hammersmith and Fulham was the borough to build in.
Next came the Charing Cross Hospital, where a few people got off and several got on. Melcombe Primary School, still in its large 19th century buildings, has its original name in the stonework. A newer development is a substantial block of student accommodation, going up along Fulham Palace Road.
We passed Bishop Creighton House, founded to serve the community on 1907 in memory of the Bishop of London by his wife. Issues like the abnormally high infant mortality rate in the area were among the reasons for its foundation, and in 1918 they began classes for former munitions workers ('the girls were of an incredibly uncivilised type - brutalised by their rough and dangerous work')
Wriggling along the lane-like Lillie Road, we again wondered why we have been unable to find a website telling us which Sir John Lillie is commemorated here: but there was little time to worry as we came up to the back of Earls Court, to West Brompton Bus Station, where the bus terminated.
It was only 11.50, and we are used to finishing our journeys much later than this, so we stepped into 'the Met Collection', a little display of the history of the Metropolitan Police. It has uniforms, and medals, as well as some interesting items like the special lightweight truncheons (kept in a shoulder bag) issued to Women Police Officers when they were originally recruited in 1918. There were also many photographs and if you are ever at West Brompton Bus Station, you may feel it worth popping in for fifteen minutes.