A Walk from Lindsay Road to Blake’s Lane

First off, I have an email address now, feel free to message me with any thoughts about the project or contributions which you’d prefer not to share publicly. It’s 213bus@gmail.com!

Now to the blog….

This blog is a bit more about my project rather than specifically about buses or local history.

I’m completing this project as part of a Masters degree called ‘Heritage (Contemporary Practice)’ at Kingston University. Instead of doing a traditional dissertation I have chosen to do this, a creative project. There are three elements which I will be assessed on: a 5000 word essay, a journal (this blog) and a creative outcome. Initially, I thought that my creative outcome or proposal should be a local history exhibition. I’m still exploring if this will be possible but in the meantime I want to keep my options open and have come up with a few other ideas: a 213 festival (events programme, heritage bus, gingerbread buses!), a historic bus tour (seems appropriate, travelling on an old 213), or a group of walking tours (with guide to the local history). Which is your favourite? Any other suggestions?

I spent a bit of today doing some good old fieldwork. By that, I mean I walked from Lindsay Road – my stop, to Blake’s Lane next to the A3 roundabout taking photos of stuff. At each bus stop I took a photo of the stop itself and the view from the stop (if you looked directly ahead of you). I’m hoping to come across some old photos of the stops so this should make a good contrast. Plus, I want to deposit my research in an archive (possibly, Kingston, Sutton and the London Transport Museum if they want it) so it will be nice to have a record of the 213 as it is in 2013 for unknown people in the future to look at….see the example below of Lindsay Road, where I wait for my bus most mornings…

left: view of the stopright: view from the stop

left: view of the stop
right: view from the stop

As well as photographing the stops, I was also on the look out for interesting things to research. I could look into the design of stops themselves, Lindsay Road has a new shelter because an old tree feel on top of the last one, and I must say it is absolutely rubbish! Way too tall that is doesn’t actually function as a shelter either from wind, rain or sunshine! Or maybe look into the history of pubs on the route: today I passed the North End Tavern and the Worcester Park (boarded up). Other interesting things: churches, F W Paine funeral directors, Police station, interconnection between railway and bus route, interconnection of different bus routes, Manor Park Recreation Ground, ‘Roadstar’ art piece….. Lots of possibilities!

I then came back and designed a business card. Have you guys got any good suggestions of where I can print it without excessive postal charges? I also made up a postcard/flyer thing which I’m thinking of getting printed as a way to start collecting other people’s thoughts, memories and experiences….A lot to think about, a lot to do!

Business Card       Postcard

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The London Bus Museum

I visited the London Bus Museum a few weekends ago. Although the history of buses (types/vehicle development) is only tangentially related to my project – which is more about social and local history – this place is absolutely invaluable as a place to meet people who understand values and meanings surrounding bus travel, routes and the social experiences we have on buses.

The Museum itself shares a site with Brooklands Museum. Admission is pretty steep at around £10 for the whole site. On the other hand, if historic vehicles are your kind of thing, there is plenty to see. I went during a classic car testing event where people drove their Pre-WW2 cars around various courses, but there are also permanent displays of planes and racing cars.

The London Bus Museum‘s website is an excellent resource for people wanting an introduction into the history of the London Bus.

London Bus Museum Leaflet

The Museum itself is within a big shed (can’t think of a better word!) with huge printed vinyl partitions creating the exhibition space – presumably to provide flexibility, moving buses about requires a lot of space! The display is a chronological narrative of the history of the London Bus from the first horse drawn carriages to the Routemaster types (the famous standardised red double-decker). I was super excited because the bus in the entrance was a 1920’s 213 (technically a 113 at this time) and to be honest I didn’t pay enough attention to the overall display as I was so concerned about finding more 213s!

See the photos section for the pictures I took of all the wonderful buses. They have all lovingly been restored by the Museum which is run completely by volunteers of the London Bus Preservation Trust. What is wonderful about this place is it lives up to its tagline ‘A living heritage ‘. This is a working space, most of the buses proudly display their up-to-date tax discs and actually work! There is evidence in plain view of the restoration work taking place behind the scenes for example, buses displayed in various stages of restoration, spare parts left in the Museum environment.

I was lucky enough to meet Kevin, Operations Manager and Alan, a retired bus driver and volunteer, who were really enthusiastic about my project and even took me into the Restoration and Maintenance Workshop immediately behind the Museum. This is where I got my photo taken behind the wheel of a 213. They had just finished its restoration, and luckily they didn’t show me where the start button was until after I’d tried the accelerator pedal! Talking to these guys was the first time I felt that this project really had substance, it gave me confidence that at least some people would appreciate the work I was about to undertake and be interested in the result – Thanks you!

My favourite bit of information from talking to Kevin and Alan was an insight into the subculture which is bus driving. Did you know that a ‘Steering Wheel Attendant’ is long hand for ‘Bus Driver’? With this in mind, what do you think a ‘Steering Wheel Polisher’ is? Answers on a postcard or below!

They suggested a few sites to look up regarding the history of the 213 so that’s what I’ll be doing next, along with an update on my local history research.

57 Varieties*

One of the ideas of the project is to collect local history information around each of the stops on the current 213 route and produce a blog entry about each. To that end, I’ve started the process of collection – finding photos, interesting stories and remembrances. I imagine that this could become a good structure for an exhibition – maybe the two routes (Kingston-Sutton; Sutton – Kingston) running along the walls with each stop marked and a collection of ephemera surrounding it, plus a place for people to fill in a postcard of their thoughts and memories to be shown alongside, each stop blurring into the next as the walls are filled.

I was typing up the list of stops going each way which my mum had written out (also available on a handy interactive map at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/?r=213) and suddenly the scale of this project dawned on me. 57* different stops to consider and research…. Overwhelming and also strangely awesome. Things that seem simple can become so complex so quickly. I’m excited at the possibilities of this project for involving a whole load of different people (anyone really- that has, does or will ever conceivably use the 213 bus route or lives their lives alongside it). Will any coherent meaning emerge from this? I think what interests me about the project is that it will produce something more collage, or patchwork in character, a collection, a changeable mass of information that connects us all. The 213 follows a physical geographic route, but is part of a complex network of interconnecting routes: physical, social, historical, economic. And that’s just one bus route!

* The route from Kingston to Sutton stops at 44 stops, from Sutton to Kingston it stops at 45 stops. There are 57 individual names for the stops.

Some of the 89 bus stops on the 213 route (both directions)

Some of the 89 bus stops on the 213 route (both directions)

Rita and Robin

Today, the bus (20.30 from Cromwell Road) smelt of fake strawberries, and I had to listen to Rita Ora ‘RIP’, some Reggae (unknown) and some crazy robotic-hip hop through other people’s headphones.

Also, Robin Gill, local historian for the Malden Village Voice recommended his article to me from 2008 about the history of the 213 route. Useful. Check out their website at:

http://www.maldenmedia.com/

Getting My Anorak On.

Sutton Bus Garage sign

Today I went on the bus from Fairfield, Kingston to Sutton, Bushey Road, and decided to take a photo of each of the stops.

Now, although I probably come across as a geek a lot of the time (and certainly some of the guys and girls at school thought I was and said so, a lot, to my face), taking photos of bus stops is not something I feel particularly comfortable doing. Luckily my parents were with me or else I probably wouldn’t have done it.

Why does it make me feel uncomfortable to be seen doing research by other bus travellers? I suppose my behaviour was abnormal. But then, no one questioned what I was doing, so was it all in my head? Are we not all entitled to our little eccentricities? The bus driver didn’t make a comment when we got to the end of the line (Sutton Bus Garage) and asked for where we could pick up the 213 going back the other way… Mum drafted a nice list of all the bus stop names so my research into local history can get under way.

If any of you readers use the 213 I would be really grateful if you would like to contribute a photograph of the street view at your bus stop and share it with me on here. That way we can start collecting an image of the bus route in 2013 which will be an interesting contrast with any historic photos I come across over the next few months.

The First Blog

Hi All,

I’m Amy. This blog is about the 213 bus route. I probably spend about 1.5-2 hours a day on this bus going between Worcester Park (where I live) and Kingston (where I study and work).  I like eavesdropping on conversations (sometimes people talk so loud you can’t escape the minute details of their personal lives), looking at the first storey of shops and meeting people, I often take a cheeky nap and nearly miss my stop. I also watch the time as life zooms/crawls by outside the window, worrying if I will be late for work…again… even though I left 1.5 hours to get there.

I am completing a Masters degree at Kingston University called ‘Heritage (Contemporary Practice)’. I’d like to do a project about engaging communities in their local heritage and exploring the meanings behind what often seem mundane realities. Thinking about this on the bus, it struck me that a project about a bus route, my bus route, the 213, could be a good project.  Why does it connect Kingston with Sutton? Why does it stop where is does? Who uses/used it? What stories and memories do people have about being on the bus, or looking out of its windows? More broadly, why and what do people (dis)like about living in Kingston, Norbiton, Coombe, New Malden, Old Malden, Worcester Park, Cheam and Sutton? Broader still, how can heritage professionals engage with local communities to make something meaningful and truly collaborative?

I hope to update the blog weekly with musings about where I have been (my next blog will talk about the London Bus Museum), and things I have read, things I have overheard on the bus. It is mainly a record of my research for personal use, but I open it to you in the hope of finding some collaborators –  please comment away with your own stories of bus trips, time spent in the places on the 213 route and anything else really.

Thanks for reading!