Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Number 424 Route

Putney Heath (Green Man) to Fulham Football Club (Craven Cottage)
Monday May 9th 2011

This was never going to be a straightforward route and sure enough as crows fly this trip would have taken about a quarter of the time, but for bus interest it was excellent value, though a single decker only running twice an hour.

We (Jo, Mary & Linda) were lucky with the weather, so watched the bees busy in the nettles round this rather deserted little bus stop away from the real business of the Green Man interchange where there are serious bus routes like the 14 and 37.  Not sure whether chicken or egg but the 424 is a little used route and for much of the time we were the only passengers.  The others who boarded only did so for the convenience of taking their shopping home – they could easily do this as this was a ‘hail & ride’ route for much of its length.

In order to face the right way the bus takes a turn round the very rural parts of Putney Heath with Wildcroft Road cutting straight across the green bits – we noticed some houses tucked away which look almost like farmhouses down private lanes and complete with an equally discreet pretty country pub

Once back on the road called Putney Heath we turned smartly into the Ashburton Estate, which was looking in much better shape than the Roehampton Estate which we had passed through earlier: not sure why – fewer tower blocks? More small houses more likely, because the area is still quite mixed with several private developments and homes altogether.  The local comprehensive school, Elliott, though the (now Grade 2 listed) buildings are showing their age, also has a very lively music department which has produced a few winners in is time, and this combination seems to keep the area looking quite cared for. 

Back along Chartfield Avenue the combination of us, a bus, running into the building vans and lorries for the   Putney Square development meant something of a traffic stand-off but we progressed in the end. 

To be honest the descent down Putney Hill and then Putney High Street is often very slow and the narrow streets cannot really cope with the volume of traffic; we stopped outside Putney Station while the changing drivers bantered a little and then moved on.  It’s a two-sundial route with the more modern ‘Time like an ever rolling stream’ at the crossroads and the bright blue one atop St Mary’s Church just before you cross the River. Crossing the river was a stately progress too and we noted a funfair on the move in the opposite direction, not to mention the Hammersmith & Fulham dustcart heading away from the borough.  We believe that by the time you read this H&F’s rubbish will be heading downstream to the newly built Crossness where they take on not just H&F but other central London boroughs.

I did just glimpse the kiln  but had to use some-one else’s photo – though the famous  Fulham Pottery, specialising in ‘salt ware’ is no longer operating from this site.
The bus takes  a right turn down the New Kings’ Road towards Parsons Green and  the shops become more exclusive – a range of antique shops, interspersed with bespoke outlets such as ‘Profeet Ski Boot Lab’ – think about it. On the Green you find the ‘Duke on the Green,’ a Young’s pub, which has lost half its name having once been the Duke of Cumberland, but as he’s not from round here he might as well remain anonymous.  The bus does a little loop down Peterborough Road and from a small bus we could not quite see what lay behind a high wall – not the private Hurlingham Club but in fact the more public South Park (there’s one of those in Ilford too but I have exhausted my They Killed Kenny joke). There’s a school along here with the murals by the artist (1903-1992) more famous for his stained glass windows at Coventry – these continue to stand out.

By now the bus was on ‘hail and ride’ and although there was little hailing we still progressed slowly due to the narrowness of the streets, often double parked, and the number of corners to be turned – a most intricate route. We followed the line of the River along what would have been the old industrial wharves (we saw one very derelict factory building) but what is now a regenerated brownfield site, which even has its own Overground station – Imperial Wharf.

  I worked on  this patch briefly  about 40 years ago when it was firmly working class, dominated by the Power Station, the Sunlight laundry and the gasworks as the main employers – times have changed somewhat but we were pleased to see that some social housing remained round the Pearscroft Estate.

Completing out loop meant that we re-emerged onto the New King’s Road with a very difficult right turn – this gave us time to observe four men watching and one bricklaying on the road junction – admittedly his brickwork, a blend of new and re-cycled London stocks, looked good but even so Jo spotted ‘management’ as the bloke with the coffee and the beer belly.

Passing the lovely shop front that is the Gutlin Shop is a real joy and then over the King’s Road and back along towards Fulham Broadway – the sights come thick and fast with the side entrance to the West Brompton Cemetery (one of the magnificent seven) and then the first of our football clubs Chelsea FC.

But this was not a main road bus and soon we turned off again – into the Fulham Cross area complete with another excellent range of shops – we had fun with their names which included:
Indian Summer
Dolce & Banana
Naked Nosh
Sales@getagrip (door handles)
and whirled round a few more residential streets crossing the Fulham Palace Road one more time to get back down to the river in Stevenage Road. Our arrival was further impeded by the fact that four large outside broadcast TV vans were laying cables all over the place, possibly to prepare for the football match between Fulham and Liverpool due to take place that evening.  Not sure this would be my bus of choice to get to football but for all other reasons if you like a route that has more loops than unravelling wool and a delightful combination of cottages now homes of the wealthy this is certainly the route for you. 

Not quite sure why it’s called Craven Cottage (Mr C. had a home here once?) but one way and another it’s been here since 1896, and looks its best from the other side of the river …

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