Clapham Junction to Richmond Bus Station
Thursday June 23rd 2011
Thursday June 23rd 2011
We are beginning to come to the view that many of the higher route numbers, especially the 300s, are essentially composite or extensions to lower number routes and it was clear from today’s journey that is exactly what the 337 is, duplicating as it does core sections of both the 37 and the 33. In fact I can remember in my first proper job commuting from East Dulwich almost to Barnes on the then 37 route, whereas today (setting aside the railway) it would need both 37 and 337 to accomplish this.
Talking of railways, our route started at Clapham Junction, where there has been a steady flow of improvements – new overhead bridges, toilet facilities (end of Platform 17), more bicycle racks and a new exit /entrance called rather grandly the Brighton exit, which is a fair way up St. John’s Hill and usefully exactly where the 337 route starts.
We had installed ourselves in our usual front seats but essentially had the whole top deck to ourselves – we cannot vouch for passenger numbers on the lower deck but I suspect they were modest. The journey up St. John’s Hill went smoothly – the number of small restaurants seems to be on the increase and there was a faint ghost sign on one of the cleaned older buildings.
At Wandsworth Common we joined the South Circular, whose route this bus essentially follows. It is always a mystery to me how anyone not already familiar with the twists and turns and vagaries of the South Circular ever gets to the right place. As we headed down East hill Jo spotted a café called The Huguenot's Rendez-Vous, named we thought for the mansions of the same name but in fact we had just passed the entrance to the Huguenot cemetery tucked in behind the Book Place and the two ‘forks’ of the South Circular (I promise I won’t mention it again). It was used as a burial place for dissenters between 1687 and 1854 and had a recent restoration in 2003. Local history seems to think they contributed greatly to the prosperity of Wandsworth.
East Hill heads down to the centre of Wandsworth, now dominated by the very fine Town Hall and the large South Thames College. The Ram Pub is also on the High Street, virtually astride the Wandle River, and was the flagship pub for the brewery, though now but one ship in a larger fleet. Wandsworth High Street has limited charms, and today those charms were even less visible given the volume of stopped traffic – here in Wimbledon week with traffic heading up the hill to SW19 the actual S**th C*rc*l*r was closed and diversions in place – fortunately the bus lanes were all ours to go up West Hill (in fact the two hills form the hill sides to the Wandle valley) passing the de Morgan Collection housed in the local museum to good effect.
The next familiar landmark is the Hospital for neuro-disability with newish banners proclaiming ‘Communicating: A Right not a Privilege’ which we thought had universal appeal and application, not just for the patient group..
We certainly lost some traffic heading towards SW19 and tennis as we turned back on ourselves down Putney Hill . There are flats of every vintage along here from Victorian conversions and Edwardian mansions to now tired-looking Sixties blocks and the more glitzy and recently-completed 21st century version of the 2-bed starter home.
Once onto the Upper Richmond Road (also known as ‘that road again’) and heading for Barnes and Richmond our pace increased; Sheen is very genteel so it was no surprise to find a Waitrose and a Garden Centre, though to be fair there are Pound Shops too.
One of the jewels along here is the Hare & Hounds Pub with a lovely sign.
William Hickey, who died in 1727 left his property in trust to provide pensions for 10 women and 6 men (even then the differential survival rate was obvious) and by 1834 the Trustees decided to build some homes (it takes a 100 years to decide what to do?) which today are Grade 2 listed Almshouses (See also section for Route 310).
Approaching the centre of Richmond we passed the Victoria Foundation, of which we knew nothing, and a rather deep hole which appears to be a BAM building site of some mystery.
The bus terminates at the very modest and old-fashioned Richmond bus station rather than by the railway station as I expected. It had taken 55 minutes but this would probably have been 10 minutes shorter but for the diversion round Putney.