Victoria Station to Canada Water Station (is this C for Canada Water then?)
Thursday November 29th 2012
Here we were at Victoria Station for the first time in years – many of our very early 1-100 routes had started here but we have travelled so far out as we progressed to the high number routes that it was quite a shock to tangle with the rebuilding, and no-go areas that is the front of Victoria Station. I’ve scoured a few websites but while there is lots about the main and underground stations there is very little about the buses --- I suppose they will have to tuck in where they can?
Still the forecourt was awash with men in TFL reflective jackets (actually on a picket line I discovered later) so we found a couple to asked where the C10 started – imagine our slight surprise when he pulled his phone from his pocket and looked at an App (which I could have done) but still seemed uncertain. We asked him if it was a TFL phone he said that no, they had taken them all back after the Olympics, and he had to buy his own and download his own app (they are free). When I asked what had happened to all those TFL phones he said they were ‘hired’. At the information desk they sent us through an arch and round to Grosvenor Gardens – a stop we knew well. Waiting amongst the teeming tourists (this is freezing November, remember) was a triple amputee in a chair hovering and as he let most of the other routes pass we assumed he wanted the slightly less frequent C10, but no he seemed to get his amusement watching the world go by with a fag in his remaining hand. Another passenger asked if the C10 passed London Bridge Station and was told ‘no’, but stayed on regardless.
We got away from the bus melée that is Victoria reasonably, swiftly passing mostly office blocks from different eras, some surrounded by surprising amounts of that curly barbed wire. There were some slowing road works on Ebury Bridge and Jo reminded me of the comparatively recent (2004) unearthing of a Battle of Britain Hurricane Plane that had crash landed here. Shortly after this I saw a pub called the White Ferry which turns out to be a ‘backpacker hostel’ which makes perfect sense when you think of the many overseas and out of London visitors that still arrive via Victoria Station or Victoria Coach Station.
The C10 makes its way along Lupus Street where there are a few shops dating from the building of the extensive Churchill Gardens Estate, architects including Powell and Moya. There was a collective gasp on the bus as we watched an elderly lady lose her footing and fall down by the kerb, but it was not thought she had wanted the bus so after a decent pause to ensure she was getting some help we moved on, passing both Pimlico Library and Pimlico School, which in their current incarnation well post-date the estate.
There was also a blue plaque to a Walter Clopton Wingfield, who is named as the ‘father of Lawn Tennis’ so now you know. St George’s Road brought us out by Vauxhall Bridge but no, the C10 continues along the North Bank of the Thames passing behind the Tate Museum and sundry Peabody Buildings to emerge in time to cross the much quieter Lambeth Bridge. More Etonians, muttered Jo as we passed Lambeth Palace (the new Archbishop of Canterbury being an Etonian and former business man) and then came alongside the extensive spread of St Thomas’ Hospital – from this approach you see also the back of the Evelina, which is one of the more imaginatively designed and welcoming Children’s Hospitals. St Thomas’ also houses the Nightingale Museum. After the substantial roundabout at the end of Westminster Bridge (we had already been over once today on the 453) we went under Waterloo station and its railway lines, passing the entrance to the Necropolis Railway, which took trainloads of coffins down to Brookwoood Cemetery after burial space was running out in Central London. It may come to this again unless cremation becomes the norm for those to whom it is permitted.
[There is an excellent historical detective novel called ‘The Necropolis Railway’ by Andrew Martin, who loves his railways and, though not a Londoner, the Underground too.]
Before too long we arrived at Elephant and Castle and for once the novelty of stopping at the first rather than the third stop along London Road, and then a distant glimpse of the Shard living up to its name. We noted that finally the South Bank University seemed to be making a move on the corner pub and other properties, which had stood empty with fake fronts for many years. Now we were south of the River the passenger numbers crept up. The sights of Southwark and Borough include the Inner London Crown Court. While seeking some clue to the age of the building I came across this site, which offers you the possibility of room hire – for weddings? Perhaps not everyone’s choice for a jolly time? The Dragon café alerted us to the fact we were about to pass St George the Martyr Church. Jo felt merely killing a dragon did not warrant martyrdom and sainthood but this George was put to death by Diocletian (the Roman Emperor who died in his bed in the palace at Split – I’m digressing wildly here) so perhaps earned the requisite brownie points for sainthood?
Long Lane came next and we seemed to be skirting the trendier and newer bits of Bermondsey here –
From fine dining to flats it all seemed to be happening. But more of Bermondsey is old – we presumed that Abbey Street referred to the former Cluniac Abbey dissolved by Henry VIII, but every time anyone tried to build long-interred bodies kept turning up some as late as 2006. The monks of course had a source of water for their Abbey life, so hereabouts is the course of the ‘lost’ River Neckinger, remembered in a street name and with the Mills still standing (better quality photos courtesy of Andrew who has been walking the Lost Rivers).
Jamaica Road is also quite an evocative name and as a more major route took us quite fast to Bermondsey Station and beyond, past the end of Southwark Park and the newly enhanced roundabout with its metal cyclist sculpture. This is of course close to the end/start of the Rotherhithe Tunnel, a much better kept secret than the Blackwall Tunnel, with signs also to the Brunel Museum. Amazing to think that Brunel designed this aged 19!
A glimpse of Surrey water also reminded us what a thriving Dockland area this had been, some of which is commemorated in the murals along Deal Porters Way.
The C10 does not take the easy route along Salter Way but the older and much narrower Rotherhithe Street, where there is just a row of housing, a mixture of older local authority flats and newer builds, between the road and the Thames. Another educational resource the Pumphouse is on this route plus a series of evocative street names – King & Queen Wharf, Pacific Walk and Globe Walk. We had time to note these as the bus encountered a dustcart collecting bins and a parked removal van (pantechnicon size) so there was a certain amount of stand-off with the bin men, more used to these streets, making way for the C10. Two local pubs included the Blacksmiths’Arms, nicely maintained by the Fullers Brewery (bit off their patch here) and The Clipper, which bills itself as handy for Surrey Docks Farm, rather less well-known than its Isle of Dogs equivalent at Mudchute.
This landmark just about brought us back onto Redriff Road and a short run into Canada Water Underground/Overground and Bus Hub, in 1 hour 5 minutes. This excellent route had taken us from the wealth of Victoria and Pimlico though historic and vibrant Bermondsey and Rotherhithe with at least 3 museums, a farm and probably much else that we missed…