Friday, 8 February 2019

The Number 22 Route

Thursday 7 February 2019

We picked up this, our second bus of the day, at Putney Common, near a site which Linda remembered to have been where a hospital was.  And indeed, that was the case, but it is now a school and apartments, after more than 10 years of closure with the huge costs of guarding an increasingly derelict site.  

Fortunately, given the biting west wind, we did not have to wait long, and were on the bus at 12.05, heading back into Putney.  We passed a butcher, with a (surely dairy?) cow outside, as well as a piece of art depicting a parent weighed down by her burden and a pale ghost sign.

 We knew from previous visits to the Putney Bridge area to look out for Kenilworth Court: there can't be many buildings in London with three blue plaques.  Hugh Jenkins, the Labour and CND hero who lost his seat to David Mellor, is one. Gavin Ewart, poet, whose plaque is actually a Putney Society marker is another, and the third is Fred Russell, 'Father of British Ventriloquism'.

I doubt if the three of them had much in common, but then their tenancies did not overlap, so banter in the lift was unlikely.

Here we paused for a driver change, and  then continued to the  bridge, where there are works being done around Putney Pier. These seem to be to do with the Thames Tideway sewer works, which we came across a few weeks ago in Battersea Park.
Soon we were over the river (the bridge does have very pretty lamp posts) and travelling alongside Fulham Palace and its grounds.

Fulham and then Chelsea proved to be rather s story of many pubs.  We liked the decorated entrance to the yard of the Kings Arms (now glassed in for dining, but presumably where the drays used to unload)

and we did also pass the almost hidden access to the Tube Station, and the Bottle kiln which marks where Fulham pottery was made from the 17th century on.

Linda very kindly pandered to my obsessions by photographing the cycle lane  - working so well - and we both liked the plastic flowers decorating Katie and Jo's clothes shop.  We first spotted this kind of decoration around Christmas, but it was clearly more than a passing fashion.

The small patch of green we then passed is Eel Brook Common, which became a public land in 1881, and was rescued from various developers, including the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who wanted to build on it.  The crocuses are out: spring is definitely coming!

Across the road was yet another blue plaque, this one for the graphic artist Ralph Steadman.


What with ghost signs and huge wrought iron clocks, and a shop boasting 'rock crystal chandeliers' we were almost dazzled by the retailers of this trip.  But I said a moment ago that this was a pub-laced journey and here was the Worlds End Distillery, looking more like a palace than a pub, and shortly afterwards, signage promising 'new pub coming soon' but the interweb seems silent on what this means


We were also passing the houses of the prosperous, and the accommodation of the not-prosperous, though this person at least had a bench and a solid looking tarpaulin. We thought there was possibly less new-build going up than in other, less salubrious areas.  Here was Chelsea's old Town Hall and, nearby, the site where the Curzon Cinema is being redeveloped, but will still have films alongside dining and retail.

 We admired the pretty Six Bells pub, and the Chelsea Potter, as well as noting that 'Sticks 'n' Sushi still had what appeared to be its Christmas greenery
By now we were coming to the Saatchi Gallery and the world of green, but private square gardens, and thus into Sloane Square. 
Here we saw yet another Blue Plaque, this one to the excellent radical politician Charles Dilke. His private life is quite interesting too, as you can read at this link.

We also spotted that Boodles the jewellers had been founded in 1798, when Britain was in the grip of war.

As we came into the Knightsbridge bottlenecks, Linda remarked how often roads were affected by  building works rather than roadworks:  and we got a good   view of the huge block where the developers are having to preserve the facade while destroying everything behind it.

Once we got to Hyde Park Corner, Linda kindly photographed the New Zealand war memorial, as well as the Wellington Arch. She knows how much I admire these standing pillars, leaning forward like warriors (or the All Blacks) at the Hacka, and embellished with symbols of New Zealand Flora and fauna (and a rugby ball).
Then it was just a matter of the laborious plod along Piccadilly until we turned off to go slowly round Berkeley Square, something no other bus does.

There was the pretty Park Chinois restaurant (I envisage a French-Mandarin fusion) and the less pretty, but interestingly named, Sexy Fish.

 Still more Blue Plaques followed, one to George Canning, around at the same time as the Duke of Wellington, and one to Clive of India, 'soldier and administrator' which is a succinct summary of an imperialist.

Winding our way through the streets of Mayfair to reach Regent Street, we were again help up by road works or possibly building works, so we had time to watch some buskers with electric violins and an amplifier, and also to spot the Lalique shop.  I thought you might like some ideas for next week. Oh, yes, and another Blue Plaque, this one for the fashion designer, Norman Hartnell.

Regent Street is never fast, but we reached the end of the route just north of Oxford Circus at 13.05, which was less than the 66 minutes predicted for this journey.  It had been very entertaining to see so many areas where wealthy people go shopping.

1 comment: