Monday, 4 February 2019

The NUMBER 21 Route

Newington Green to Lewisham Shopping Centre
Thursday January 31 2019

We met at Dalston  Kingsland  only to find that the Kingsland Shopping Centre is the only one without toilet facilities so it was Costa to the rescue again…

I had vetoed Jo’s suggestion of arriving via the 73 so we walked mainly in the right direction and through some well maintained and quiet seeming estates. The bus stop was the first thing we saw as the previous 21 drove off, but it was a short wait for this hour long journey to SE London.
The first part of the route took us past some very handsome older houses with patches of infill, but very much in character in terms of height and colour so blending well.

As we were transitioning from Hackney into Islington we spotted a Blue Plaque – not an English Heritage One but one from the Association of Music Hall Artists of England and the US. This one was for Nelly Power a child star who grew up ‘on the boards’  and lived here with her mother.

Our next landmark – London Regent’s Canal  - is better known in its trendier locations of Camden Town and King’s Cross but the waterside has obviously been  rehabilitated ( and gentrified round here too) Baring Road  ( named for the erstwhile banking group) goes alongside the canal  for a while and then the bus crosses over.

I thought I recognised the patch of greenery we passed but it proved to be Shoreditch Park , a fairly recent addition to Hackney as it happens – the patch of green in a densely populated inner city area owes its origins to bomb damage, then later the pre-fabs were removed  and the park laid out in the Sixties.  With the Regents canal being nearly 200 years old and Bunhill Fields, also on the City Road, has been used as a public open space for  about 150 years, Shoreditch is  a much later addition.   
Close to Bunhill Fields is the John Wesley Chapel where we had had an interesting visit, with the house/home also open next door. 

More religion was on offer this time the Salvation Army Hoxton Centre – I sometimes think were these original philanthropists and church outreach workers to return to 21st century London they would find enormous changes in the buildings that have grown up (and what they are used for) but they would find similar poverty-struck people at street level..

On through the hub that is Old Street with its multiple ‘start-ups’  we quite liked the The White Collar Factory name though it seems to have as many eating spaces as work spaces 
By the time we got to Finsbury Square (not to be confused with Finsbury Circus as I discovered last week) the driver was announcing that we were on diversion – not something the TFL website had commented on.

We, and much other traffic were sent round London Wall and past the monument rather than along Bishopsgate and having made good progress thus far it was not surprising that we stalled here.
It was slow enough to notice the few City churches left amongst the new and ever taller blocks. The offices are so ‘cheek by jowl’ that one gets reflected in the surface of the next…
All Hallows-on-the-Wall does not look much from the outside but apparently has a lovely interior  and as you can see from here has had a more recent history of social rather than religious service.

More Cross rail disruption followed – the hoardings proclaim 60 seconds to Crossrail – if only…
We emerged a little too swiftly to take a frontal view of the Monument and crossed London Bridge taking a route south through Borough High Street  and the older parts of Southwark rather than tangling with the Elephant – plenty of that to come..

When  we did this route ten years ago  I had thought the Blue Men climbing the wall ( I know the feeling) on the Maya office block were a temporary  attraction but they seemed to have stayed the course and still look – well blue. Here is some more detail from Hidden London
On a more sober note the HQ of Carers UK is also along here – a fine service as most carers are in fact ‘hidden’ and probably saving the state very much money.

For me approaching the Bricklayers Arms from this direction was a bit of a novelty as I am usually going north (slow) or south (fast over the flyover) – this has long been a key interchange for London bound traffic from the coast and is where horses and coaches would have stopped and changed over.  The changing bit has probably shifted to Elephant but it is a key, if unlovely entry point to London. A few plane trees with their ‘fruit’ helped us on our way.

After turning left it was a pretty straight run down the Old Kent Road , which  has a bit of everything – small firms – Obadiah Rose solicitor sounding like a Dickens character – huge Tesco & Asda Superstores – smaller outlets serving the varied and many ethnic communities that start their UK lives along here  varied housing including some City of London blocks with blooming flower beds.
There was even a church that promised to ‘set captives free’.

Infamous Millwall are off to the right near some more railway tracks and passing the The Five Bells still very much a pub, where a pub has always been  with a lively website.

New Cross has a bus garage (‘ Are we going in said Jo’  - no it's for buses only)  and nearly opposite is a Blue Plaque to a John Tallis  who apparently was a printer and publisher famed for his ‘London Street Views’ , and had obviously found himself a nice home here.

Sadly the pollution really seems to hang around in this part of London and once past the Overground station (nicely redone inside) the grime seems to hang around – mostly due to heavy traffic heading out of London. This is Goldsmiths’ territory of course and they have several buildings for the student body round here. As the top of Lewisham Way is one-way the 21 heading south went round via Amersham Way , and then continued along past more Education – Lewisham College and the  Deptford Memorial Gardens

Jo could scarcely recognise Lewisham from our earlier bus days as in the intervening years it has lost both the roundabout and the bus station and gained several indifferent housing blocks. While the roundabout was hardly a feature the replacements are not exactly thrilling.

This marked the end of our pretty efficient – when you think of the distances covered -  trip from Newington Green in just under the hour.

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