Monday, 5 September 2011

The Number 213 Route

Kingston (Fairfield Road) to Sutton Bus Garage

Tuesday May 3rd 2011

Having arrived with our previous bus at the smart, bright and cheerful Cromwell Road bus station we did a rather undignified scramble through Kingston for this bus. (We don’t usually run, this being a retirement project and not a work related bus journey, but the day was advancing and other routes had run very infrequently, so we broke our own rules.) Having broken into a trot we just managed to catch the 213 – a serious 24 hour double decker – at the much shabbier Fairfield Road Bus Station, only to find it swinging round to pick passengers back at Cromwell Road! Still, the rules do say we have to do the whole route…

We had hardly settled and tried to locate our sandwiches when an inspector arrived – in fact the second inspector of the day, and Jo even thought he might be the same inspector. Back we went right round the Kingston buses’ one way system passing Nipper Alley and a huge number of prestige office blocks all to let – in fact I shall probably make a montage of them – I wish I could say the recession might be over by the time you come to read this but it seems unlikely as it will only be a few months hence.

The bus was fairly busy with another passenger talking to himself – we think he must have had a some comedy on his music device/phone as he was chortling away. Fellow passengers had mumbled to themselves through out our previous trip and one poor lad had nearly jumped into Jo’s lap when an unaccompanied dog, without its Oyster card, boarded the bus and seemed ready to settle down until politely escorted off the 166.

We headed through Norbiton, having entered through Surbiton – I detect a pattern here – and were part way up Kingston hill when we turned by the hospital: with such good weather and a steady driver we could finally appreciate the extensive site that is Kingston Hospital complete with new builds, very large car parks, chimney and the Sir William Rous building. Sir William, a former chair of the Kingston Hospital, died of cancer in 1999 but before that had served as the Quarter-Master general for the Forces, meaning I think that he was in charge of all supplies from paper clips to pork pies. 

On we went down Galsworthy Road and through the heart of inter war residential and Tudor style housing that is New Malden via Kenley Road, passing Coombe School on our way (all hard at work) and the Dickerage Road allotments to come out on Traps Lane – much discussion ensued as to whether this was down to poachers laying traps for pheasants back in the day when this was land owned by rich Lords, (me) or where they kept the Royal Greyhounds for hunting (Jo). In the event Wikipedia seems to think it was named after Mrs Trap the farmer who had a property here.

By the time we’d finished our discussion we had reached New Malden High Street where the road has been narrowed to one lane each way and nice broad pavements to encourage ongoing use of the High Street, which did indeed look quite busy even on a Monday. In amongst the 10-20 Korean restaurants and other Korean service establishments we noticed Agassi hair and had to remark that of all the things you might remember Andre Agassi for – entertaining and elegant tennis, famous wives, drugs and rock n’ roll – ‘good hair’ was not the attribute that sprung immediately to mind: there wasn’t really a calm patch between the swinging blond locks and the bald patch, was there?

On to the main crossroads known as The Fountain, with a pub of that name on the corner and something pump-like on the central patch of grass – I suspect that it was more about water for horses than an ornamental fountain, but whatever it proved to be a very popular boarding point for the bus.

Our next excitement (it doesn’t take much out in the suburbs) was crossing the mighty A3 and then being the only route hereabouts to carry on past Manor Park recreation ground and what appeared to be called Old Malden. We wondered when it became Old Malden as it can only have been called that after New Malden happened.

From here on it was pretty much a straight and straightforward run into Sutton passing through Worcester Park and again noting the  HG Wells Pub,  and further still Cheam Common Road leading to the crossroads which mark the heart of Cheam – as the streets are still quite narrow the bus slows somewhat. The pub and the author are claimed by Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park, but we shall go with the last named.

The cottages that line the streets on the way into Cheam are delightful and at this time of year with peonies just coming into bloom looked colourful yet traditional . The ‘Prince of Wales’ pub, today with outside customers reminded us that Prince Charles has just broken the record for the longest king in waiting. In any other job he would just about be gearing up for his pension (and bus pass). Or perhaps a bacon buttie?

By the time we were drifting left into Sutton’s one way system to allow for the pedestrianised high street up the middle Jo was nearly drifting off her self – a combination of early start sunshine in the front seat, a hearty sandwich, and some credit must be given to calm driver of the 213. He brought us safely through the back entrances to the St Nicholas Shopping Centre, named for the church, and within the prescribed 50 minutes we arrived at the tucked away Sutton Bus Garage, where we spotted our last bus of the day.


  1. Interesting point about the Prince of Wales. When you think about, his job is essentially "Hoping that his mother dies soon." Not a very nice job for anyone to have to do for years!

  2. Next time you go through Raynes Park on a bus, notice that there is an Agassi hairdressers literally next door to a Kwan hairdressers. As I'm an ice-skater, if I were to go to either, it would have to be the latter!