Thursday 11 August 2011
It was 10.20 as we set off, heading past the plaque for Francis Pettit Smith, without whom everything from cargo ships to canal boats might still be paddle driven. Sue told us that the St Clement's Heights retirement home was undergoing major developments, which would maintain the sheltered housing element of the Almshouses while providing other accommodation and - presumably - income.
I also noted a Pub called 'The Two Half's' (sic) and Sue then told us about the controversy surrounding the Sydenham Post Office, where some people want to erect a Mosaic, while others object
There are some handsome buildings on this route, as we headed down towards Catford, including a house that had a brown plaque for Sir George Grove, he of the Dictionary of Music, and the Lewisham Credit Union. We also passed a new development, which is being built in a curve, presumably to 'reference' the elegant gas holders next door.
Our next landmark was the Tudor Livesey Memorial Hall, built as a social Club for the gas workers that Mr Livesey employed. It was a relief to see it active, as we passed a number of boarded up pubs, including the Rutland Arms along Catford Hill. Signs for the River Pool Linear Path led Sue to say that it had been a bit tidied up and so was less 'natural' but it seems it has been a disappointment for some time.
Getting into Catford was a bit slowed by water works, which brought the traffic down to a single lane, so we were able to admire a food shop called Africq, which was offering smoked catfish, as well as the Broadway Theatre and the famous black cat. We also admired 'Loctafari', a beauty shop which promised to provide for 'all your loc needs'.
From Catford to Blackheath is a very short distance, and we were soon admiring the handsome plasterwork of the Blackheath Conservatoire. In the village, a number of the attractive and interesting shops were boarded up , but with signs saying 'Open': evidence of the unpleasant events of the past few nights.
Our route took us across the heath, where there were Canada Geese feeding, to arrive at the Royal Standard by 11.10.
We'd had a pleasant journey, enlivened by Sue's wealth of interesting information. We had noticed several double decker 202s going in the other direction, so we felt a bit saddened; but the steep hills of this part of London might help to explain why they mostly use single deckers.