Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Number 371 Route

North Sheen (Manor Circus) but actually Church Road Richmond
to Kingston  (Kingston Hall Road)  (Pss, we break out west from Essex for one week...)
Thursday May 3rd 2012

This route came third in a 3 bus day which felt more like a 6 bus day possibly because Jo was brewing a fine cold, we had been chucked off our second route twice, and in spite of the date it felt as cold and damp as November. The trees and blossom were cheering but hard to capture. We left the despised 391 at Richmond Bus station with the intention of walking back to North Sheen, and must have been about halfway there when a 371 appeared from behind which confused us no end. After much consultation with the bus map and head scratching we decided the route must have changed and headed for the next stop in Church Road, where we boarded a well populated 371. Later research shows we actually got on at Stop 9, which is in direct breach of rules but we needed some warmth and comfort. We did pay the price by not getting good enough seats for much photography.  

In spring this should be a delightful route passing as it does by some of Richmond’s more gracious properties, most of which had ancient and well-tended wisterias to admire.  However the driver was taking these narrow residential streets at quite a lick so all we spotted was the gate of Richmond University, surely a private and very privileged institution?  St Elizabeth, mother to John the Baptist, has a small RC school named for her. Jo was in a mood for testing me on bits of the New Testament which I only manage to pick up through art and the buses.

Somewhat to our surprise, as we had no idea that we had climbed, we were suddenly on Richmond Hill and passing the front door of the Star and Garter home,  here since 1919 and caring for ex-servicemen. It dominates the skyline and is very visible from walking the Thames path. The charity’s website indicates they may be moving out next year so what next for this plot?

From here the ‘down’ was very noticeable and again speedy as we passed in quick succession Ham Common, the Dysart Arms, now just the Dysart  and not just offering ‘pub grub’ clearly where you have a drink when finishing the weekly match at the Ham Polo Club. As they list helicopters on their website I don’t imagine many members arrive via the 371!

Petersham Nursery  is also now probably more famous for its food than its fuchsias or foxgloves. Affluence is again visible in the fact that most properties are walled rather than merely having fences or hedges, but from a single decker sadly we could not peer over. Ham Street leads to the National Trust Property Ham House. Preservation fears and heavy use of blinds mean the inside is quite dark but there are some fine textiles and the gardens, as you might expect, are lovely.

There is a later side to Ham, we think a Sixties era development of sixties era development inspired if not built Span homes grace the roads round Broughton Avenue. More affordable tastes are catered for at the well-named  'Hansel & Pretzel'.

Tudor Drive and many of its associated side roads – Ann Boleyn, Cardinal Wolsey – made us think of the Reformation so when I saw a shop offering ‘indulgence’ I took it in its historical sense of buying a place in heaven as opposed to being bodily pampered. Get a grip said my travelling companion.  Jo did manage to get the school’s advice down :
‘Park your car a few streets away,
it will keep you fit and hazards at bay’ Not great poetry but sound advice. I bet Ann Boleyn would have parked on the wavy lines.

On Queen’s Road the houses each had plasterwork beasts (as in ‘The Queen’s Beasts’) but all still quite visible. Latchmere House is well set back from the road as befits a former Youth Offending Institution, later prison, subsequently decommissioned. Now what for this large site and property?

Not daunted we pushed on round Kingston (not much hybridding here said Jo – we thought he was going too fast and relied on his diesel engine) with Tiffins and the Lovekyn Chapel as markers. For some reason the 371 along with the 85 are not allowed to rest at either bus station but wait patiently in Kingston Hall Road where we descended, the last passengers standing so to speak, about 35 minutes after boarding We did pass the Hogsmill and Clattern Bridge but took the photos on our walk back to the railway station. Given that we had bent the rules once already on this route cheating slightly on the photos seems a small indulgence (see what I did there?) in comparison.

A very pleasant way of getting from Richmond to Kingston if you are not inclined to take the Thames Path …

 Addendum or a route of two halves  Thursday May 10th 2012

North Sheen (Manor Circus) to Queen’s Road

Feeling rather guilty about short-changing this route, and as I happened to be in Richmond the following week, I rode from its start to where we boarded in error. This 4-5 an hour single decker rests and starts from a stop at the edge of the customer car park for Sainsbury’s, so not surprisingly was used by non car-owning shoppers to get their loads home. Talking of non car-owners, the length of the Mortlake Road which connects North Sheen to Richmond has a most excellent cycle track sharing the pavement with pedestrians and well screened off from the busy road, so I was sorry Jo was not with me to coo. One side of this road has charming cottages probably built about 1893, the date on the end one close to the Richmond Circus (I noticed that Richmond had circuses rather than roundabouts but it comes to much the same), while the opposite side is all glassy glossy office blocks frequently empty.

Once past the second circus progress was slow, giving me time to note that the Orange Tree theatre continues to thrive making Richmond a two theatre venue. The Orange Tree is handsome in its Victorian Young’s Pub while the theatre on the Green (not visible from the bus) is a well-maintained Frank Matcham gem.  

Back to Richmond, where we won and lost passengers past the station and the several fairly upmarket shops. The bus swings back on itself rounding the corner by Eton Street where they are building a food co-operative, according to the poster, but that may be a front for, yes you have guessed it, more offices.

The stretch of road from the corner to where the bus turns off down the continuation of Queen’s Road is characterised by a series of rather handsome Thirties developments – blocks face each other and the Christian Science Reading Room, though squat, is quite impressive. Obviously pre-dating this clutch of Thirties  blocks are the gracious Georgian and early Victorian homes for which Richmond is famous, many of which this week were hung about by wisteria in full bloom. The Quinn hotel brought me back to where we had started last week = route now completed end to end and honour satisfied!   


  1. The 371 has some double deckers - ? school traffic ? so if you are clever or lucky you *can* see over those walls.

  2. I go to St.Eliz R.C Primary and I admire "The Ladies Who Bus.