Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Number 284 Route

Grove Park Cemetery to Lewisham Station
Thursday 22nd September 2011

Thursday’s child has far to go – well Linda’s have come a fair way, today being their 34th birthday no less. 

Jo and Linda on the other hand had come just one stop on the train from Hither Green, where our excellent 255 had left us, followed by a walk from Grove Park station through Chinbrook Meadows. There we enjoyed the usual park facilities but especially the Quaggy (nicer then it sounds and released from its culverts) and the  Desmond Tutu Peace Garden opened in 2009.

If it was peaceful you were looking for, the start /finish of this route is just outside the gates of Grove Park cemetery, which is probably why the bus comes this far. The combination of cemetery, park and street trees makes for a leafy experience. Somewhat to our surprise even from a single decker bus there was an excellent view back over London – so Grove Park must be on some kind of South East London hill. Most of these streets are part of the Grove Park Estate built mainly in the late Twenties and originally local authority housing.  At the crossroads with Chinbrook and Grove Park Roads the bus filled up and continued along the winding Marvels Lane, where they had once been a large hospital named for the area.

When acute services were relocated to Lewisham hospital and the long-term residents of Grove Park re-established in the community, this became a brownfield site ripe for redevelopment – the gates remain as a reminder of past history and the new houses are settled further back.*

Tucked away here also are the playing fields for the City of London School for boys (that building at the opposite end of the Millenium Bridge from Tate Modern) so you can see how far they have to travel for their outdoor sports. 

We were a bit puzzled when passing a modern block offering ‘Colposcopy’ and wondered whether this was a private resource but research seems to indicate it is part of the  Baring Road Family Practice

Rather than remember the Bankers of Baring Road, the alley named for E. Nesbit’s ‘Railway Children’ seemed more cheering.

By now we were back on the main road passing ‘you cannot really call it a bus station‘ Grove Park Bus Stand and the rail station. We were to head up towards Downham (more clinics/surgeries, a very few shops and a free standing undertakers) very briefly and then turn off towards Hither Green’s Verdant Lane and our second cemetery of the trip. Hither Green has both Crematorium and Cemetery and a range of tall and impressive trees – this was one of the first areas in SE London to be colonised by parakeets which by now have spread, like a green plague, everywhere. The aptly named Verdant Lane perhaps? This cemetery is the burial place for the victims of the Sandhurst School 1943 bombing. This account is long but vivid – we can all identify with that line which says ‘The bell had just gone and I reached for my sandwiches’ . Somehow the library survived and the school was later rebuilt and remains popular in this residential area. Today outside the library a guy was getting very frustrated with the public telephone and banging it to get the money out which reminded us how rare it was to see anyone using a public phone even if you can find one.

The bus travels the length of Sandhurst Road picking up more and more passengers, most of whom are heading for Catford where there are both shops enough to make up for the lack along the route thus far and the Town Hall and other services on both sides of the road.

After the twin stations of Catford and Catford Bridge this route becomes a ‘Hail and Ride’ through the back streets of SE6 and then SE4 Crofton Park. The 284 serves that series of roads made of name compounds including Elsiemaud, Gordonbrock, Arthurdon, Francemary and Phoebeth: I have never found an explanation for these and can only imagine they were named after the builder’s family members. Anyway the 284 is their bus. We passed what used to be Crofton Park School, which was rebuilt and renamed, I think, Ladywell Fields but with a similarly named school at Hilly Fields (the next hill along) it gets very confusing – as long the pupils know where they belong.

Very soon we merged out onto Lewisham High Street – very familiar territory – today busy with pedestrians rather than traffic so quite soon we were pulling up behind another vehicle at Lewisham Bus Station – very handy for both our homeward journeys.

This route, entirely within Lewisham borough and serving large residential chunks and two cemeteries took just 40 minutes and was well used.

* As this bus route serves the start of Stage 3 of the Capital Ring walk I have borrowed a couple of better photos from there…

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