Thursday 3 May 2012
It all started fine, with a gentle walk from Chelsea World’s End and the 329, to Sands End. Linda and I didn’t get lost, and were on board the single decker by 12.25. We headed back the way we had walked, past the new Imperial Wharf Station on the Overground, past Chelsea Harbour and the Building site which will one day be Chelsea Creek. It appears from the website that it will be inhabited by the kind of beautiful black and white women one sees in advertisements for perfume. We also passed the Imperial Studios, which prove to be business premises rather than film studios from the days of Empire.
We came to the New King’s Road, and were briefly alarmed to turn right (we were headed for Richmond, you understand, rather than central London) but reassured when we turned immediately left to pass Fulham Town Hall and reach the Fulham Road. Here we were in an area where pubs change their names: the King’s Head has become the Broadway Bar and Grill; the White Lion is now the Fiesta Taverna.
Turning down North End Road, we were admiring the market stalls, while noticing that they do constrict the traffic rather when, with no warning, our driver pulled in and announced that we were terminating HERE. It was 12.50, cold, drizzle, yuck.. We noted two pawn brokers next door to each other.
Linda, with a cheerful disregard for cost in these unpleasant circumstances, used her phone (20p, by the way) to ascertain when the next 391 would arrive, and we braced ourselves for the 10 minute wait. Guess what? When the bus arrived, it was only going as far as the Chiswick Roundabout. Still, we climbed on, and headed through the Lytton Estate as well as much private housing. Coming past the Live and Let Live Pub, we saw what we took to be the imposing HQ of the St Mary’s Protestant Mission. But no, it is now offices, and I can’t discover what the Mission was, to be building such a fine edifice in 1895.
Heading along the Hammersmith Road, we came to Colet Court - formerly the junior schools of St Paul’s, but now offices. We also passed the offices of SONY before trundling into and then out of Hammersmith Bus Station and along King Street, with the Mall that has suffered rather from the proximity of Westfield. We liked the embellishment of the Fuller’s Salutation Inn, a listed building with, as it says on the listed buildings website, ‘lustrous finish faience tiling’.
Ravenscourt Park Station brought us towards Turnham Green; there are innumerable places to eat around here, but several of them are closed, to let and so on. The Ballet Rambert HQ is here, as is ‘The Old Cinema’, now an antiques shop but apparently really a picture palace in the 1890s
Continuing the theme of changed pub names, we saw that The John Bull is now The Gunnersbury.
At 13.30 we were turfed off again. Now you can see what we don’t like this route. But Linda’s phone again worked its magic, and we were on another bus by 13.36, heading under the M4, and past the enormous Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre which looks almost enough to make one take exercise.
Then we were over the river, and along to Kew Green, where a funfair was setting up, ready for the bank holiday; also the Botanist Pub and the little Romanesque church. The Maids of Honour Tea Shop reminded us that the actual things are sort of up-the-road bakewell tarts and then we turned left to swing past Kew Gardens station, for District Line and Overground services. We were a bit concerned that a lady with whom we had had a brief conversation had ignored our advice and got off too soon to visit the National Archive, but maybe she wanted the walk.
The pretty and well maintained terrace houses of Kew brought us to Sheen and then Richmond. Past the station (Overground again!) and the Quadrant. The branch of Jigsaw had metal corsets on its wall though its website does not explain why. That was the last excitement before we arrived, finally, at Richmond bus station at 14.00.