Friday, 11 November 2011

The Number 249 Route

Thursday 10 November 2011

Anerley Station:  North Londoners may be a little vague as to where this is, and the answer is either (a) down the hill from Crystal Palace or (b) the end of one bus route (from Brixton, and you will read about that sometime next year, I guess) and where the 249 begins its journey to Clapham Common North Side.

We waited almost no time at all, and were onto the bus by 11.00, turning right out of the station with fine views ahead up the hill.  The Thicket Tavern appeared derelict, but  has recently been sold (the estate agent's website does not say to whom) and so may recover.  Past the Station, we came into the villagy feel of Crystal Palace, with its mixture of shops old and new, some with change of use still clear.

 As we travelled alongside Westow Park, we commented on the large number of green spaces around here, and indeed along the whole of this route.  The mixture of fine, late nineteenth century, housing and more recent additions brought us to All Saints Church, where we took a very sharp right to take us back down the hill.  Charming mock tudor villas occupied the service road to the right.  We were a bit puzzled that there should be a pub named the Beulah Spa, but the excellent website of the Norwood Society explains all.  Any water recommended by Faraday must be worth a sip.  When someone sent a  "sample of the water to Professor Michael Faraday for analysis'', Faraday sent back the analysis with the added note:- ‘This water is equal to, if not superior to, the waters of Bath or Wells.’ "
The bus then took us back up hill and along the ridge, our double decker managing the varying gradients without any problem.    The British Home used to be called the Hospital for Incurables, and was founded partly as a result of campaigning by Charles Dickens.

The next green area was Streatham Common, which brought us up to the A23, where we turned right, past the war memorial, which is of a soldier standing with head bowed and rifle reversed.  Apparently there was no inscription on it until very recently.  

Streatham Ice Rink was looking very pink;  we passed both the Manna Christian Centre and advertisements for Arabic Classes and offers of a free Qur'an at Streatham Mosque, as we swung steeply right up Mitcham Lane.  Soon we were enjoying the green of Tooting Bec and came to St Anselm's Church, which has a pleasant green dome, though otherwise appears rather forbidding.  It has a shop and a school attached.  

Tooting Bec station indicated that we were beginning the part of this route which follows the Northern Line.  We admired Du Cane Court, with its white facings and interesting history (would the Nazis truly have wanted to use it as their HQ?  Still the transport links are good).  Hildreth Street Market now has a Sunday market, as well as the everyday one we saw.  Still going along the route of the Northern Line, we passed Balham Station.  We were also running along the Cycling Superhighway Number 7.  The Northern Line was working well, which is more than could be said for the superhighway (honestly, who thinks up these names?  blobs of blue paint do not make anything super, or indeed a highway)

The former cinema is now a Majestic Wine shop, and the former South London Hospital for Women and Children is now a supermarket.  Almost immediately, we were heading along the South Side of Clapham Common, passing the pond and the handsome new buildings of Lambeth College Sixth Form Centre.  We swung left, to cut across the common to reach the Old Town, where out bus terminated, at 11.55.

This had been a really attractive trip, helped by being on the upper deck and therefore able to admire the many green spaces and the mix of housing and public buildings.

Just to finish with, I'm adding Nicholas's picture of a bus. That's what happens with grandmothers:  obviously this bus thing is embedded in the DNA, and for someone only two years and two months old, I think this is pretty good.

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