Bromley North Station to West Croydon Tramlink
Thursday May 26th 2011
We, that is Jo and Linda, Mary being more sensibly at the Chelsea Flower Show, had disembarked by Bromley North (as Paul indicated it should properly be referred to) Bus Garage to walk through the very pretty and deserted (it goes nowhere very useful) Bromley North railway station and almost immediately – though they only run three times an hour – boarded a 367 bound for West Croydon. There are other routes that cover this (the 119 for starters) but we were glad to board quickly as the long awaited rain was threatening.
Like all Bromley routes we headed round the one-way system and past some rather deserted shops in East Street – the Post Office has been moved to WH Smiths’ though they seemed to be doing something with the building, but the Fitness centre had lost the fight.
As per usual the bus goes down the back of the Glades shopping complex – when last here in the spring the central reservation boxes had been a blaze of bright colours (mainly tulips) but today we were obviously catching them ‘between seasons’ and empty – and it started to rain.
At Bromley South station several passengers got on and stayed with us as we headed towards Shortlands. We had turned off the main road along Cumberland Road and passed the Thames Water Depot (it’s no longer a pump so not clear what happens here). All followers need to thank me for wading through a website dedicated entirely to pumps so that you don’t need to. I learned (and promptly forgot) about the infinite varieties that existed. The Shortlands pump was known as a waterworks BULL (after its ‘inventor’) and was something of a ‘market stall rip-off’ of the more famous Boulton & Watt pumps who took out a legal suit against Mr Bull – it was moved here in 1910 and the rather mellow brick building now offers some residential homes.
Anyway the bus uses a more back-street way along Beckenham Grove and Scots Lane to come out at Beckenham Town centre. There were some fine gardens along here with a range of well established plants – this week was a week for elderflower, a versatile bloom, which not only has a long folklore history but can also be eaten and drunk. This site of course will not be of much use to you if we actually publish in mid-winter but you can always buy cordial or plan ahead!
This time we came upon St George’s church from the side and made reasonable progress through the High Street, our second visit today, though we were about to turn off down Village Way and past the church of St Edmund of Canterbury who seems to have been something of success in his life-time: ascetic student at Oxford after whom St Edmund Hall was named, treasurer for Salisbury Cathedral and then Archbishop in Canterbury – the last always something of a ‘hot-seat’; he withdrew to France for the end of his life. You could probably write a similar CV for a high-flying cleric in 2012.
It was a shame that we were only in a small bus as the views down from this road, which feels very like a ridge along a hill, must be pretty good from a higher viewpoint. Our 367 turned into Wellhouse Way and then along Eden Park Avenue until we came out at the two big roundabouts that constitute Elmers End Green and the huge Tescos.
Though the route does pass Monks Orchard School it does not really serve the Bethlem Hospital, which has been established round here since 1930 – its fourth location since it started as the world’s first hospital to specialise in the treatment of the mentally unwell at Bishopsgate (giving 'bedlam' to the world), moved briefly to Moorfields, then to St George’s site (now the Imperial war Museum) and latterly to here. By and large Monks Orchard is a quiet residential area and seems a far cry from the ‘bedlam’ of the inner city where most of the patients come from. No clerics this time – just a well-off Mr Monk.
In amongst the double-fronted set-back properties there was a run of bungalows, some of which had been extended more than once…
I am not entirely clear how but we very soon emerged from the back streets at Shirley and then plunged into what is now known as Shirley Oaks village. The original houses, some of which remain, were built as children’s homes (group homes based on the Barnardo’s model) run originally for the whole of London under the auspices of the LCC and later by Lambeth Borough. As I had visited a child there in the early Seventies I guess some of the homes remained open for a decade or so. Then they were named alphabetically for trees and when the more modern homes were built they are named for flowers. It is likely this is the only bus route which serves the estate/development so most homes have cars.
Back on the main road, having done an entire loop from Wickham Road to Shirley Road, we passed the local new-build school Oasis Academy which seems to be a 5-16 learning environment including the library which is also accessible by the public. Students were dribbling out in small groups clearly having just finished some GCSE exams with lots of ‘note comparing’ going on – never a good move.
In contrast to the still shiny newness of much of Shirley, Addiscombe looked a bit tired – there were shops trying to make a go of things such as Ground Jewels – a gardening shop.
From here it was something of a slower run into West Croydon via the usual one-way routes, passing East Croydon and the Whitgift Shopping Centre and finishing outside the bus station.
The walk through to West Croydon and the Overground are barely marked (West Croydon is such a poor relative to East Croydon station) and one feels they ought to build a walkway to connect the bus, tram and train stations but clearly there is no cash for that. A lick of Orange paint is about all that West Croydon is going to get.
Another somewhat loopy East-West route but more pleasant and offering more variety (even if largely residential) than the well-trodden main road routes we have already taken.