Wednesday 8 February 2012

The Number 293 Route

Morden Station to Epsom General Hospital
Friday November 5th 2010

This was our second bus of a major 6 bus marathon and though we boarded in dry weather we had rain on and off all day with a heavy grey sky contrasting strangely with unseasonably warm temperatures.

Morden, as most of you will know, is the Southern end of the Northern line and the tube map indicates toilet facilities so we approached the barrier staff who kindly, but firmly pointed us towards the ‘carbuncle’ (their words) by which they meant the civic suite where we used the washrooms and Linda was able to buy a poppy (with Jo’s small change). By the end of the day Jo had lost her poppy so could reclaim Linda’s.

Talking of change, a youth boarded the bus offering a £10 note so there was some delay while a passenger, rather than the driver, managed the change. The lad then sat at the back on his phone promising his mate that he was ‘nearly there’.

This route, like most we rode during the day, was a timed service running 3 times an hour. The 293 is of course a close relative to the 93 for which I had had a personal guided tour by a friend who was born and continues to live in this area. Like the 93 it gets itself from Morden to North Cheam but by a different route, taking in more of the suburban streets that make up Lower Morden and Worcester Park, rather than major roads (A24).  The striking features hereabouts are the huge cemeteries and crematorium. At this point Garth Lane is so narrow that there is a sequence of ‘PRIORITY OVER ONCOMING VEHICLES’ notices and other traffic calming devices. Clearly a car had ignored this as we encountered the tail end of a traffic incident with the police still lingering and two ambulances and an ‘ADVANCED WARNING’ car about to depart.  You would have thought that the rows of graves might have offered some subliminal warning?

 Out we came to a crossroads named for ‘The Beverly’ as round about here the Beverly brook begins and can be followed for several miles finally joining the Thames near Fulham.
From the major road junction at North Cheam the 293 forges on alone as by now the rather bad-tempered 93s have ended their routes. It then follows the side of what is now Nonsuch park but was of course formerly the Royal Palace of  Nonsuch.

I see that the park is managed jointly by the two local authorities, that is the London Borough of Sutton and Epsom & Ewell Borough (part of Surrey), by which you will gather we were approaching Ewell. 

Royal connections are clearly reflected in local street names, and a tendency to build more recently in what is known, perhaps unfairly as the ‘pseudo-Tudor’ style, that is with a bit of half-timbering which is generously on display on the houses facing the park. There are cottages both round Cheam and Ewell village that do date back for centuries. Here are some captured earlier in the year on a stroll through the village, which still has its ‘lock-up’. The erstwhile mills on the Hogwash River also have changed their function.

 The modern focal point of Ewell village is Bourne Hall, (library, museum etc) which looked very modern when it was built some 40 years ago.  It makes for a very pleasant village atmosphere with water birds to be fed, and the local pub still open. The fact there is a by-pass for non-local traffic doubtless helps.

By now the bus, one of only a couple coming through the village, was pretty full and it was clear that most of the passengers we had taken on were heading for Epsom. This stretch of road between Ewell and Epsom is characterised by small industrial estates – called the Nonsuch of course, second hand car dealers and a local Leisure Centre.

This route in fact sails through, or more properly round, Epsom (there is a strict one way system) where we glimpsed the Playhouse. We did feel rather sorry for Abele Cottages: charming but situated now so close to a busy road it was obviously hard to keep the exterior colour washes fresh enough – even in the gloom of today they glowed pink and a light minty green.

A few hundred yards further past the town centre the bus terminates at Epsom General Hospital where the last passengers – most had got off at Epsom town to shop – disembarked. The hospital looked neither imposing nor very characterful, but later in the day following a major rail incident at Oxshott (no fatalities but some casualties) I noted the walking wounded had been brought to the A&E department there. 

A pretty and historic route that might repay repeating in different weather!



  1. If this was part of a six-bus marathon, then the project summary, top right, needs to be updated.

  2. As you often comment about loos, you might be interested in the Toilet Map - a project I've just found that's attempting to document the location of every publicly accessible toilet in London (and beyond).

  3. The Hogwash River?! I think you mean the Hogsmill River!