Trafalgar Square to Crystal Palace
Thursday October 4 2018
The last time we did - this - the route started/finished at Oxford Circus, where it might have been easier to track down. Possibly some-one is beginning to evict a few routes from Oxford Circus with the intentions of going pedestrian only? We had been slightly cavalier in our approach, coming as we did from Holborn (long story here) but it is no hardship to cross one of the few open plazas London has – there were more tourists than pigeons which can only be a good thing. TFL seemed to be contradicting itself with one source telling me the bus started by Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square though actually more credibly described as at the end of Whitehall. The bus was about to go and set off so fast and jerkily we missed photographing many of this road’s more famous sights. Sadly for the blog (and visitors to London) both Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are under, what the Russians always called their running repairs ‘under remont’ or в ремонте. it was also misty hence the ubiquitous grey..
We wizzed past the two memorials – the plain Cenotaph rather more gracious than the Women’s black plinth where the figures look like a cross between lynchings and dolls hung out to wash, but then I have not been close up. Though not the height of the tourist season there were very long queues for Westminster Abbey We had been lucky enough to have something of a preview of the Triforium, which is now officially open. For a quieter visitor experience the Jewel Tower opposite is interesting too.
Now that the rest of London is pretty much swamped with places to eat or ‘grab a bite’ it was quite refreshing to pass through this area which has so few commercial outlets. Essentially the number 3 parallels the river visible through the trees of the Victoria Tower Gardens and the barely glimpsed Buxton Memorial Fountain – a memorial to one of the founders of the anti-slavery movement.
The Number 3 is one of the few crossing Lambeth Bridge giving us a clue as to where we were heading. The slightly mysterious building at the north end was also в ремонте but Mr Tradescant’s pineapples still top the end pillars of this modest bridge which crosses to Lambeth Palace and another refurbished museum – that of Garden History
. The advantages of travelling on the top deck include glimpsing some low buildings which I thought might be almshouses , but am struggling to identify. Jo was more interested to see why two bus stops had been suppressed – because of road works which seemed to indicate they (?) were adding two more islands for pedestrians – which must be a good thing. Jo enjoyed the strapline ‘Hire 4 Lower’ spotted under the railway bridge.
At this point an inspector joined us – perhaps because as we were riding one of those unlovely new Roastmasters there are several places to board and thus more scope to avoid paying ?
Passing the former site of Vauxhall Manor school reminded me how few of the old secondary schools remain. Michael Rosen makes several valid points here but I also think modern education benefits from being in sleeker premises which are more tech friendly.
By now we had turned right and were heading down to Kennington – never a lovely road junction and again with an evangelist as part traffic island, this time St Mark. The park opposite looks pleasing enough but is not what you would call a ‘destination park’
There is also an impressively large hole in the ground fronting an equally large gap in the buildings through which we could glimpse the old gas holders at the Oval but not sure what to expect the fill the gap (better than minding the gap).
Just round the corner in the Brixton Road the drivers changed and the somewhat jerky first part of the journey was replaced by a much smoother style. While we were waiting I noticed a postcard sized sign indicating the National Theatre Costume hire was somewhere round here. You would need to know.
The Brixton Road was in good form with alternate swathes of fine late Georgian houses opposite the extensive Cowley Estate which interestingly has broken away from Lambeth Council to form its own management committee. Other random touches we noted were: Amazing Grace: African Textiles, the North Brixton Cultural Islamic Centre and the Bay Tree Centre which claimed to be ‘Changing Aspirations into Realities’. The Jamm offers diverse music including 'the Alice band , which we liked. Most cheerfully the route passes one of Brixton’s murals – Children at Play by Stephen Pusey on the back of the O2. Quite by chance I had picked up TFLs 'Brixton Mural Map' which is published as part of TFLs Art on the Underground Project, which a pedant might note is a slight misnomer for house-high paintings..
After this the mainstream outlets round Brixton Station seemed very mundane and I can report there was no graffiti visible from this side of the bridge (see the No 2 last week). And so on down past the Ritzy, access to which is via an oddly ‘ritzy’? pedestrian crossing, then St Matthew again, after which the Number 3 turns left down more residential streets to Herne Hill and Poets Corner, an area which has gentrified beyond belief in the last twenty years or so.. Having the nearby Brockwell Lido and Park certainly tempted people down here.
Once past Herne Hill station in case you missed it EVERY lamppost and tall structure is hung with a different, very tasteful poster invoking the charms/spirit or whatever of the area: this continues the length of the Croxted, then South Croxted roads where the No 3 is more or less the sole route.
While we admired some of South London’s most cherished (in all senses) Edwardian houses and villas, each with their gardens, and Herne Hill gave way to West Dulwich (their banners were art rather than images of the area) we mused on CROXTED which does not seem to exist as a destination, nor can I find a Mr Croxted after whom it might have been named (it would not of course have been Mrs Croxted who was certainly written out of history). The frantic bannering , we thought. might be down to Lambeth feeling that Southwark’s East Dulwich had got above itself?
However we did discover that Leonora Tyson (born Wolff), after whom a side turning has been named, had been a suffragette fervent enough to have experienced both prison and force feeding. She did have some local links.
Once past the Gypsy Hill roundabout, where there is a very quaint but cosy looking bus shelter, the bus heads steeply uphill not stopping very often, until the Crystal Palace transmitter becomes visible.
From Crystal Palace Parade I pointed Jo downhill to the station (she did find her way home). We had boarded at 12.15 and got off just after the hour for a route that offers key London landmarks and the slightly less contrasting faces than they used to be of South London’s Lambeth.