Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Number 312 Route

Thursday 22 March 2012

This was one of the briefest buses we have ever been on:  leaving South Croydon Bus Garage at 11.00, we reached Norwood Junction Station at 11.18, just inside the time stated on the bus stop.  We have always assumed that these timings were fantasy, but not on the 312.

Of course it is not far: in the olden days, there was no such bus, and instead, the 12 ran - amazingly - from South Croydon to Shepherds Bush;  then from 1972, the bit between Norwood Junction and South Croydon (our bit) was cut off to be the 12a, later the 312;  and, before 2005, the 312 ran up to Peckham.

Our journey brought us very soon to the Lord Eldon Pub named, we assume,  for the 18th century Lord Chancellor, though he doesn't appear to have any direct connection with this part of London.  We also passed Whitgift School, before coming to the Swan and Sugarloaf pub, destination of several buses, but now closed.  It seems it might become a supermarket, which would be a shame for some of the smaller local shops, but it is listed, which might slow the giants down.

We did admire the local shops with their attractive soffits of almost filigree wood.  We noted a startling number of Hispanic eateries (I use that word because there were Argentine as well as Spanish steak houses, tapas bars and so on).  Coming further into Croydon we passed Christopher Wren Yard, which is offices.  We don't think the man ever lived here, though he is one of the great men who are sculpted on the town hall.  We were also pleased to see that while the Italian restaurant under the flyover, Ponte, had closed, it had reopened the other side of the road, calling itself the New Ponte.

Heading onwards to pass the Town Hall, with its war memorial 'to the men and women of Croydon who suffered and died' we felt we liked the comprehensive nature of the inscription, given the heavy civilian death toll of the Second World War as well as the battlefield deaths of the First.

The Fairfield Halls are celebrating their 50th anniversary . They must have been pretty new when I came with Roger to hear The Byrds (Hey Mister Tambourine Man for all those of you who are younger than me, and there are a lot of you!)

This was not a bus which wasted time pulling into stations, and we swept past East Croydon Station with barely a pause, as we had West Croydon Station.

In the gap between Croydon and Norwood, we felt that almost all the terrace houses had been improved one way or another, whether by replacement windows, porches, or roof windows.  We were interested to pass Croydon Animal Samaritans, and I was relieved to discover that they were concerned with binding up wounds rather than listening to unhappy creatures, since communication problems might be acute.

Approaching Norwood Junction, we passed the Gladstone Pub, which looked to be in good condition;  a certain symmetry in starting our journey with an eighteenth century politician and finishing it with a nineteenth century one.  It is hard to picture dour old Gladstone being conducive to jollity and merriment in a pub.  Did you know that he chewed his porridge 72 times a spoonful?

This was a beautiful sunny day to travel through a small section of south London, and we enjoyed our brief trip.

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