On a hot and sticky bus…

So Spring/Summer has arrived (probably for a brief visit- after all, we are in Britain!) and the bus is smokin’, particularly in the evenings. I quite like seeing all the people dressed up for summer and the cooling breeze coming through the windows whilst sitting on the upper deck. I don’t like the sound of the air con at the back – it’s so loud! The seats as well can begin to feel a bit sticky and prickly when it’s so warm.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with my bus at the moment. I love it, because of this project and how many nice people I’m meeting and all of the stories I am gathering, but at the same time, I’m really under pressure with other work deadlines, and the length of the journey is getting me down. I’ve taken to listening to the radio off my phone – which only works on the upper deck – and that seems to pass the time quite nicely. I normally do some reading on the bus in the morning, and just sit thinking and snoozing on the bus on the way home.

On the way back tonight, I decided to start looking out for how people hail down the bus. Really fun to watch actually so I might do some more observations at a future date and create a classification system with diagrams and pointy arrows. Here are my observations:

Fairfield Bus Station: (hailing a 131) little girl clicked her fingers and jumped then clicked her fingers again

New Malden High Street: man performed abrupt thrust with hand and immediately returned hand to his side

New Malden The Fountain: man gave an (almost) longing look towards the bus – ‘please stop!’

St James’ Church: lady grasped out (as if walking in the pitch black), clutching forward

Blake’s Lane: youngish man adjusted hair, vaguely waved down the bus and then adjusted his hair again before boarding

The Plough: middle-aged gentleman straightforwardly put his arm out, palm flat and facing driver

In other news, there is a new bus stop! Thank you to Roger and Jamie for pointing out to me that between Lindsay Road and Longfellow Road, Worcester Park, there will soon be a new bus stop, ‘Brabham Court’. I clearly haven’t been observant of late! Not sure how you pronounce it so just waiting on the announcer lady to have her voice recorded to find out. My project really is about ‘living heritage’ as things are changing all the time! This new development has reiterated to me the need to find out more about the history of the physical route – I am hoping that Transport for London’s Archives may help.

A new bus stop for Worcester Park

A new bus stop for Worcester Park


Cheam – A reminiscence and an interesting comparison

I’ve been trying to gather more information over recent weeks so haven’t had too much time to actually write a blog! I have finally walked the entire route! Not in one go, I hasten to add – although the parts were tiring enough. Today I walked from Langley Grove, New Malden to Kingston, I’ve also done The Triangle, Coombe to Kingston Bypass, Blakes Lane, Old Malden to Lindsay Road, Worcester and on the occasion of going to Cheam – from Lindsay Road, Worcester Park to Sutton! You can see a lot by walking and obviously I’ve photographed everything so hope to upload some interesting snaps later.

comparison cheam broadwayRichard Holmes, local pub historian gave me a postcard he bought of the 113 bus (precursor to 213) passing along Cheam Broadway in the 1920s. Turns out it is an S439 type bus. I decided it’d be fun to recreate the photo in modern times and the below image is my attempt. I got some strange looks standing in the middle of a road crossing waiting for the 213 to pass but it was a fun exercise I will probably try to do more once I’ve made my selections from Kingston and Sutton Archives’ photo collection (there are some cracking images of the old A3 among others…hope to post in the future with some examples).

I also advertised in my work’s newsletter and that has prompted some wonderful memories. This is one of my absolute favourites:

I felt I must respond to your request for experiences on the 213 bus as it
was my mode of transport in 1956 to Cheam Village to see my fiancée
having had to sell my 1938 Austin 12 to buy the engagement ring!   At that
time I would have travelled on the new underfloor engined RF buses.

On one occasion I didn’t use the 213 because I missed the last bus home around midnight and had to walk!

The gentleman above lived in Arundel Road, Kingston at the time which is about 5 miles from Cheam. A long walk, but worth it I’m sure, as he and his wife are still together – 57 years later!

Kingston Bus Garage, 1964

Kingston Bus Garage, 1960s

The two images above form part of a collection of photographs donated to Kingston Museum and Heritage Service by a gentleman called John Eagle. We don’t know very much at all about him but he enjoyed photographing Kingston in the 1960s! To the left, you can see a 213A to Belmont Station just leaving Kingston ‘Bus Park’, and the right hand image is captioned ‘Next to Kinema Cinema Out of shot on left looking east’, dated 1964 it shows the now demolished Kingston Bus Station. Kindly dug out for me by lovely volunteer Mick.

The Bus Station/Depot was closed on May 17th 2000 after 80 years of use to make way for the Rotunda Complex. By that point, services had been running from Cromwell Road for 5 years (since 1995) and the garage had only been used by London United buses which eventually relocated to Tolworth Garage. The Garage was built for the London General Omnibus Company in 1922 and included an indoor waiting area. It was the only London Transport garage without automatic bus washers and until closure, all buses were cleaned by hand!

213s are operated by GoAhead, based at Sutton Garage, although historically they have used Kingston, Norbiton and Sutton Garages!

Source: Adams, T (2000) ‘Kingston Bus Garage closes its doors after 80 years’ in KATAlogue, No.46, Summer 2000