Friday, 2 August 2013

The K2 Route

Kingston Hospital to Hook Library  
Wednesday July 31 2013

Kingston was having a ‘moment’ and even before we left Waterloo there were little promotional maps being handed out to support the ‘Prudential Ride’ event this weekend – a road race for both pros and amateurs similar to last year’s Olympic Events. Kingston stars because riders pass through both coming and going as this map clearly shows.

Of the ladies who bus, only Jo cycles, Linda not being altogether reliable in traffic, so we had arrived at Kingston hospital, situated on a large block between Kingston Hill and Galsworthy Road, after both a train ride and the K1 into Cromwell Road bus station. We managed to get somewhat lost in the back buildings of the hospital which is a not unusual mixture of some new blocks like the William Rous building (erected in the memory of Sir William Rous, a former Quartermaster general and Chair of the Hospital) and the older crumblier looking buildings housing laundry and bloods and supplies... However, we emerged blinking at the front of the hospital, admiring its loos and logos, and climbed almost immediately onto the frequent single decker service of the K2 (not to be confused with the Himalayan peak of the same name).

After leaving the piecemeal hospital behind we turned right and back down the hill through Norbiton , passing its station and the usual shops which cluster round a commuter point. Of particular joy was ‘Woofs a Daisy’, a pet parlour, and that sustained us till we reached the familiar Kingston landmarks of the Tiffin School and Lovekyn Chapel, both of which have long histories detailed here for anyone who wants to  walk 'Royal Kingston'. Though the seat of local kings such as Athelstan from the first Millenium it did not get its ‘Royal’ label until 1927. Having never really noticed before today we became aware of the town’s coat of arms – three fishes under a tun – and there were plentiful examples on buildings, street signs etc. Helpfully Kingston also tells you which part of the borough you are passing through on each road sign. After the less historic Fairfield Road Bus station we did the circuit of the shopping streets – those which are not pedestrianised – and came to the conclusion that, although like Hounslow Kingston has many through bus routes, a station and a modern shopping centre, it feels altogether more cohesive and less confusing.

Kingston University attained full University Status a mere 10 years ago but has really thrived in terms of student popularity and spreading campus buildings – it looks as though former empty office blocks have very usefully been taken over by different faculties. The other landmarks on this trip are Surrey County Hall and the Crown Court, which we had ample time to admire as the traffic slowed on our approach to the Surbiton roundabouts. Also the excellent roundabout art for which see the K1.

It was here that this route became a true ‘letter bus; namely serving the hinterland of areas already well served by number routes.   Thus it was, or more biblically and ‘then it came to pass’, that the bus turned up Surbiton Crescent just by Mr Marx’s hairdressing salon. I was rather puzzled as I do not associate the original Communist thinker with personal grooming but Jo reminded me the Marx brothers were famous for their hair amongst other things.

After the rather grander roads called ‘The Ridings’ where some spacious front gardens remained – we had a little spat about the relative virtues of choisiya bushes – it was all very much residential streets and then arriving in the smaller more concentrated homes of Berrylands, which sounds like the kind of name property developers would think up after too many drinks on a Friday night – however  it is all quite genuine and named, as so often on these outer London trips, for a farm which once stood here. They have a station on a more major route than you might expect and there is a small parade of shops, the first since Surbiton’s thriving centre, and the now defunct ‘Berry ‘pub.

The route from here back to Tolworth was a tale of snaking past double parked cars, negotiating frequent road and pavement works (Kingston is clearly no slouch in this department) and slowing past the frequent K2 coming in the opposite direction until we emerged back onto Tolworth Broadway, another busy point for losing and gaining passengers. Just beyond the Tolworth shopping opportunities comes the Tolworth roundabout where the A240 is carried over the A3 below… there seemed to be  major works going on inside the roundabout – all this scheduled to finish by September.  And I quote ‘Tolworth Broadway is set for an exciting new look and feel that puts pedestrians and shoppers at its centre. Particular attention is being paid to improving Tolworth Broadway as a high street and to balancing the priority between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicular traffic by creating a more inviting and friendly environment and reducing traffic speeds.’
Fortunately the K2 finds its own space after this and heads down Jubilee Way alongside King George Playing Fields, which will tell you it was not in the current monarch’s reign that these were laid down.  After this breath of fresh air we were quite surprised to then arrive in the middle of an industrial estate with several car repair places, storage facilities, and, best of all, the Brick Library’ ‘Do you get fined if you hang onto them for more than three weeks?’ Jo asked – and indeed do they have ISBN numbers. I was not able to find out much more so can only assume they offer a ‘brick matching’ service (cue jokes about speed dating perhaps).

As quickly as we had entered the industrial zone we came back into a residential area and then turned onto the main Hook Road, stopping at what was once Hook Library but is now the Hook Centre offering a wider range of public service loan options.  This circa 45 minute trip, in a strange way, proved less annoying than Hounslow but less memorable also. We got off carefully avoiding more pavement improvement works.


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