Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Number 466 Route

Caterham-on-the-Hill to Addington Parkway
Thursday December 6th 2012

This was an interesting trip made even more so by our choice of approach. We had finished our previous trip in Reedham and came back down the valley to Purley (where the railway line splits), thawed for about 10 minutes in the waiting room and then taken a train to the end of the other line at Caterham, where they must have known we were coming as they had newly installed/tiled and refurbished platform toilets. The Luxury.  Emboldened we strode up the hill along what we thought was a footpath until we encountered a car. It was steep and therefore afforded slightly misty views back down into the Chipstead valley. A short stroll through Caterham-on-the-Hill brought us to Westway Common and the welcome sight of a red double-decker waiting for us. This is a frequent service though the numbers riding today would have scarcely filled a small single-decker. It was also old and pretty littered – ‘bet this comes out of South Croydon Garage,’ I said: ‘Wait and see’.

We took two sides of the triangle that is Westway Common and admired the sprinkling of snow from afar. The local school and several homes had their Christmas decorations up and then the sight of a notice ‘Hard Hats Must Be Worn’ alerted us to a large building site. Thanks to my ancient A-Z this was clearly the brownfield development on the former St Lawrence Hospital site, where residents, largely those with learning difficulties, once numbered in their thousands, but which closed down in 1994. Perhaps in anticipation of an influx of more residents (though Berkeley tend to go for luxury not density of developments) while chopping some trees down on the way.
There is already a large supermarket plus car park on what seems quite an exposed hill top not far from the aptly named ‘Village Pub’.

Heading north, we were soon crossing Coulsdon Common, which is maintained by the City of London and so almost certainly safe from further housing encroachment. Interestingly the ‘Fox’ pub has a photo (most pub signs are painted) of said animal on its sign – I’m surprised the fox did not stay to pose as they are so brazen and fearless. Green spaces abound with the John Fisher Rugby Ground, Stoneyfield Shaw and eventually after the crossroads Coulsdon Pond and Coulsdon Manor which proves to be a hotel with golf or possibly golf with a hotel.

Nearby Marlpit Lane reminded us that farming folk used to have to mix in marl to make the clay more workable. Talking of unusual names, we found ourselves heading down the very steep Stoats Nest Road, researched by Jo on an earlier route – basically stoats are the cuckoos of the small mammal world. Going downhill proved scarier than going up – we were just exceeding the very modest 30 MPH speed limit and came to what can only be described as a ‘blind’ corner under the railway bridge to join the Brighton Road.

We have been here before, and the run into Purley went quite smoothly with the usual exchange of passengers at what feels like London’s largest Tescos – it isn’t, but still has the effect of upsetting the balance of this busy road junction.  Purley High Street has somewhat lost its focus; today we had time to study the rooftops at leisure as there were two ‘incidents’ slowing us down; an older man kerbside was being attended to by the paramedic who arrives before the ambulance – meanwhile the ambulance plus three police rolled up and passed us at great speed. There was some fine lettering in the brickwork for Pretoria Buildings, and the parapets reminded us that ‘new’ laws were passed following the Great Fire of London to try to stop fire spreading quite so easily from house to house.

Purley Oaks has its own station with Capella Court (pic) sitting in a very dominant position, but looking under-occupied, on the big roundabout. We did of course stop at South Croydon Bus Garage for the drivers to change, thereby vindicating my hunch that this rather neglected looking bus came out of this garage, like several routes before it (see Lee’s comments for the 412).  The changeover was quick enough for us to catch the three police cars now straddled across a side turning, with officers ‘questioning’ civilians by the roadside. By now we were more or less at the ‘Swan & Sugarloaf’ and as at least four previous routes have taken us along Croydon’s ambitiously named restaurant quarter, I shall not repeat myself except to say the rather modest Christmas decorations had arrived.

This route serves Fairfield Halls and East Croydon station, and soon we were on our way heading east, alongside the trams, via the Addiscombe Road to Shirley. As the trees had died back we had a better view of the restored Shirley Windmill.(just visible in pic)  
From this point the properties became impressively detached, by which I don’t mean there were double side passages between the homes and gardens but each ‘mansion’ standing well back in its own grounds. We were on Shirley Road with woods and a golf course to either side. The windmill, not surprisingly was near the top of the Addington Hills and soon we were swooping down Gravel Hill, from where the views are good on a clearer day. The signs pointed to the Bishop’s Palace and while Bishop’s Walk has private housing the former residence of several Archbishops (of Canterbury) no less is now set in a golf course, and is a function venue.

At the bottom of the hill nestles (it does really as it is tucked between road and tramlines) the Addington Village Interchange which marked the end of our 466 trip, having taken an hour from the greens of Caterham and Coulsdon to the no less greens of Addiscombe and Addington. 

(What better combination buses and shoes; I am not sure you would be walking far in these) 


  1. Looks like attending going on a trip. the route is beautiful www.journeylankaholidays.co.uk

  2. I too can't believe what a bad state these buses are in! The 466 pictured is only from 2008, but seems alot older!