Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Number 201 Route

Herne Hill to Morden Station

Monday April 11th 2011

It was to be another lovely spring day full of short trips through the inner and outer suburbs in small buses. The three of us were joined by a silent passenger, namely a large bag of box files re-cycling from Jo’s loft to her brother’s study; I say fourth passenger because they took up a whole seat and needed escorting on and off the buses, but were well brought up and offered their seat to those less able.

The 201 waits patiently by the side of Brockwell Park and departs 4 times an hour so we had a shortish wait for what was to prove quite a popular route. We’d met at Herne Hill station which was clearly coming up in the world having both local services and more First Capital Connect trains than previously.

But back to the bus – there have been road flow improvements at Herne Hill and very soon we were off the main roads and enjoying the stately (and much sought after) housing of the Croxted Roads – Edwardian villas with intact front gardens possibly due to being part of the Dulwich Estate, which has very strict rules about altering the character of your home/street.

Having made our way across these leafy byways we came out along the South Circular just before it reaches Tulse Hill, where it obliges traffic to go one way. We headed as for Brixton (lots of local knowledge here, especially for Mary who knows Lambeth very well) but then turned off along Tulse Hill Road and into the Roupell estate just passing the St.Martin-In-The-Fields High School for Girls,  which also seems to give its name to a community centre on the Roupell Estate – I have failed to find out after whom the estate was named – its usually a worthy local councillor or historical figure but I did come across a wonderful 18th century rogue called William Roupell who sold falsified land claims for property he had no rights to, destroyed his father’s will and faked a more favourable replacement and after all this became an MP(!), so who knows?

Anyway the bus emerges from the pleasant back streets of the resident-run blocks, all interspersed with new children’s playgrounds, into Streatham High Road which must be one of the longest High Roads there are… and this may well be one of its problems, trying to keep up appearances over such a long stretch of commerce. Bits go down – no more Bowling, and Caesars, once a Locarno, looks a little sad by day – and bits go up: the espaliered trees along the central reservation were just budding, the closed Woolworth’s now a brightly lit Cash Converters, next to the odd punning shops such as Kebabilicious and Teh-niques.  We had also never seen a a PO Box shop front before. By the time we passed the landmark St Leonard’s Church it was standing room only.

The bus carries on downhill into the rather more depressed Streatham Vale where we noted the Husul Centre offering  British Citizenship Test  though I was not sure if this was for teaching for rather than sitting the test?

Last week we had passed Lassa Road and this week it was to be Dahomey Road remembered in the borders between Streatham and Mitcham, where we were about to emerge alongside Figges Marsh. Apparently some rather vibrant yellow apparatus is provided for a sort of Adults’ playground though Jo seemed to think the generously provided ones in Camden mainly get used by dissolute youth as assembly points for smoking and bunking school?

Mitcham is well provided with Greens and also a range of bargain shops where many of our passengers were clearly heading. We may sigh as we again pass through the Mitcham one-way system but today it was quick and painless and enhanced by spring blooms. Jo was keen to point out that her brother in law had suggested naming the ubiquitous Viburnum Tinus ‘Viburnum Drabbia’, which is a little harsh – in Mitcham it was climbing over a wall otherwise undecorated.

We took a turn along the Morden Road, which was built up with Industrial Units, quite new and smart and backing onto the Tramlink behind them and  Ravensbury Park  opposite. Morden is well endowed with green spaces and soon we were alongside the old walls of Morden Hall itself on the now familiar approach to Morden Town centre, end of the Northern Line and start of many bus routes.

For us it was the end of the line but only a short walk to our key route of the day.

We enjoyed the novel aspects of this route towards the start and nearer the end and were pleased to see how popular it was getting us from Herne Hill to Morden in just under an hour.


  1. I hope the Ladies Who Bus are taking a week off? London doesnt look too stable right now and seen a few buses being targetted on the news. Stay safe everyone.

  2. Actually, the former Woolworths in Streatham High Road is now the 99p shop. Not sure what the Cash Converters used to be. Stay safe!