Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Number 197 Route

Croydon Town Hall to Peckham Bus Garage

Monday January 5th 2010

NB: We rode and wrote up this route some 18 months ago and then last week rode the 194 which covers much of the same territory and route so please excuse any repetition. Since riding this route the stations mentioned have perked up due to the Overground.
This route was in fact the return half of the Route 50, the noteworthy start of the New Year and with sub zero temperatures. Nevertheless Jo from the North joined the South London posse of three, and Mary had risen from her sick bed to join us.
We had used the toilets and admired the makeover that was the Clock Tower (with the David Lean cinema)
of Croydon’s Town Hall, opposite which were ranged a variety of bus stops and useful voluntary organisations. The bus heads almost immediately right and north, foregoing the underpass but passing Croydon’s public buildings ranged along here – the College, the Home office, the Blue Orchid nightclub (now very abandoned), and of course East Croydon station which is handy for Brighton and Gatwick. There is a very confusing one-way system in Croydon including a separate route for cyclists, which looked as though you needed a degree to map-read it.  Still we were heading north out of Croydon passing another closed pub (Taylor Walker) on a prominent corner site but later finding the Joiner’s Arms still open. Woodside Green is precisely that, with its communal open space maintained, and looking over the tops of the houses we could just glimpse the line of the trams beyond. Correctly the bus does a loop to take in Norwood Junction Station, not much in itself but a very significant rail landmark. We crossed over the lines on the Goat House Bridge  and then headed down towards the Robin Hood roundabout (another defunct pub?) and Penge – not today when it was fairly grey but from the top of the bus there would normally be a fairly spectacular view over to wards the Surrey Kent borders.

At the Pawleyne Arms we had to negotiate our way round a clutch of 176s pausing before starting their very long journeys and soon we were heading up hill past our local Homebase, and one of the many entrances to the Crystal Palace Park. We had of course passed the very gracious Waterman's Square - a large complex of almshouses, now this being Bromley, in private hands and the Lightermen moved out to Hastings

Border Road, obviously, marks the move from ‘the greener borough’ Bromley to Lewisham and almost immediately the stop for St Christopher’s, which really did spearhead the whole hospice movement and still runs excellent courses. Up past Cobbs Corner and the now defunct Greyhound pub (one way or another that makes four or five this trip – pubs not greyhounds) and past the end of Jew’s Walk, where Eleanor Marx, the daughter of Karl, killed herself after a difficult relationship – you cannot quite see the plaque from the bus but we know it’s there, believe us!

Dartmouth Road offers a well-known (locally at least) trio of 19th century public buildings: the Library, now beautifully restored, Louise House (originally a girls’ home and then social services office) and the Swimming Baths, just recently saved from demolition and due for a face-lift/rebuild. Up through Forest Hill with the Grade 2 listed building that has metamorphosed from being the local cinema to a Bingo Hall and is now a Wetherspoons drinking arena.

However the most notable venue if not the most notable building in Forest Hill is undoubtedly the Horniman Gardens and Museum, which has both impressive national collections and community outreach – there really is something for everyone indoors and out..** 2011 Horniman gardens largely full of diggers pending their 2012 scheduled garden upgrade.

By now we are on the South Circular, though not for long, and still mystified that a house so close to collapse has not yet been demolished though Southwark are clearly keen to do so.** Now boarded up as a dangerous structure but not yet demolished !

 Up past Firemen’s Alley, the little snicket that leads to Dulwich Park and soon back by the lovely Dulwich Library. For once we were riding down Barry Road on a double decker and could see well over the tops of some houses into the extensive gardens they have beyond.

Down past the Young’s pub (the only 2 nicely presented and surviving pubs we saw today both belong to Young’s: the Bricklayers’ Arms and the Clock House) and along Peckham Rye – strangely the willows were still (or again?) in leaf while all else wilted under the sharp frost. Peckham was its useful lively self with a wide range of beauty options available and well-wrapped pedestrians spilling onto the road, which of course our driver avoided – heading smartly into the rather modern Peckham Bus Garage.

For three of us the bus passes the end of our roads so we were on home territory for much of this route, though truth to tell it’s not one we use that often. Better for hair salons than blue plaques but some quite nice green spaces along the way.

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