Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Number 280 Route

St. George’s Tooting to Belmont Railway Station
Monday June 14th  2010

This was a route we took as the middle one in a series to get us to our key route; by now it was a lovely sunny morning and quite hot up on the top deck of a double decker – we on this occasion were Mary and Linda with Jo doing grandmotherly things in the Midlands.

The turnaround in front of the rather smart St George’s Hospital is usually very slick and today we had practically no wait for our 280, which headed straight off south and pretty much kept going – being an outer London route it can cover rather greater distances as the volume of traffic is less intense. The hospital sent with us an escort in the shape of a speeding ambulance, which was just heading round the corner to tend to a casualty on the Route 280 coming into Tooting.

Down past Tooting station and its ‘ghost sign’ for Gorringe Park (here is a link to a site with more leisure to explore Tooting’s ghost signs though nobody seems to know exactly what business this was for) and then at Amen Corner we took the turning for Mitcham. I had always been under the illusion that a rather mediocre Sixties band were named after this Amen Corner but it seems they came from rather more upmarket Bracknell – I can quite see how they were taken with the name, which seemed to go with the nearby Mixed Blessings Bakery.  

It’s a short, jolly and very repetitive  lyric

After this we went along Figges Marsh – no fair today but signs to the ‘Lavender Fields’ which must have been here at one time and past the various greens that are Mitcham – the Fair Green and the Cricket Green plus the pub which was renamed in 1975 after a Surrey and Mitcham cricketer called Burn Bullock. Though nicely situated, most of the reviews and related articles indicate it’s quite a rough pub, which has been closed down in its time.

Soon after this and still heading south we crossed the River Wandle, which would be with us for most of the day. According to the various websites it takes about and hour and a bit to cycle the length, over 4 hours to walk it and about ½ hour in a bus or train. The National Trust also has some land round here but less publicly accessible – Watermeads.

By now we were driving through the very large  St.Helier Estate, built in the Thirties to house ‘overspill’ families from Inner London, aspiring to the garden city model complete with schools and the huge St Helier Hospital. It is still one of the largest estates in London. The Rose Hill roundabout remains very impressive even if the cinema, which used to dominate this interchange has gone. As has the Bingo Hall. Not dimmed clearly was the enthusiastic support for the England football team that was very evident from all the flags hanging from the front windows.

The bus descends rapidly downhill into Sutton – in fact the road dips while the pavement and service roads continue at an upper level leading to some pedestrian bridges proclaiming ‘Welcome to Sutton.’ Actually the routes through the town are fairly uninspiring – the one-way south goes behind all the big stores and between the car parks. There is little of the old town left: the courthouse is now a GP surgery and the old solid police station next to its newer extension – not quite overshadowed by the massive B&Q.

Still in broadly the same straight line, the bus heads south past the station and along the Brighton Road. The flats hereabouts were all probably built at different times   over the last thirty years or so – pleasant, inoffensive landscaped small scale with quite mature trees indicating perhaps that they have replaced original older single dwellings.

Before we knew it we were drawing up at Belmont Station which is just about on the southernmost boundary of the TfL domain and the point at which we all turn into pumpkins….  Having started the day at Elephant & Castle the air was definitely cleaner and we took several lungfuls as we made our way through the Banstead Downs  to find our final bus of the morning, the Number 80.  

 A mere 45 minutes to get from Northern line territory in Tooting to a green welly walk. This site is now very active with both audio and video clips to tempt you off your bus and to start walking. 

PS Apologies - pictures a bit reflective.

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