One of the trail ideas I have which may now be implemented (possibly not before September MA deadline) is to reconstruct the 213 World War 2 landscape identifying various features along the route: bomb sites, shelters, barbed wire fences, road blocks etc. This will be done by examining aerial photography from the period, English Heritage are the experts, and I will also use the bomb maps at both Sutton and Kingston archives. I also want to collect reminiscences, photographs and newspaper clippings from the period. In this trail, the bus route is a means to connect stories together across the physical landscape – so it’s less about the bus experience itself although there are some fascinating stories about bus use in the war too!
A lovely gentleman called Patrick gave me a book of war time recipes yesterday along with some of his reminiscences of life in New Malden over the years. I have copied some of the WW2 related ones below. It is amazing how life goes on, even under strained circumstances such as war.
My family moved to New Malden in August 1938. We lived in our Anderson shelter on and off for about a year in the early 1940s and sometimes saw “dog fights” in the air over London which were quite exciting. All this from our garden in Cambridge Road, where we had moved from 3 Malden Road in 1941. We had been next to the Malden Tavern at the station. The rent there was £1 a week, but during the air raids, my father thought it was wise to move further away
After a short time in the Kingston Sea Cadets learning to row a boat and climb a rope etc, I joined the “Air Training Corps” and enjoyed marching down the High Street blowing and playing the bugle or the drums. Once, when we went for two weeks summer camp in Kent, I flew in a Lancaster Bomber over bombed out Cologne, I still have the photo from my “Box Brownie” camera.
How many people remember the bombs in Malden High Street? One outside what is now McDonald’s, another outside the Railway Inn near the station (I went down in the crater looking for shrapnel), also another behind the fire station. The last four houses at the far end of Cambridge Road were flattened. My friend lived there but survived, he was called Les and stayed with us for a time’.
Graeme Hodge, a local historian, has been researching war memorials in Kingston for a number of years now and is about to embark on another research project into New Malden war dead, and the accuracy of the war memorials, many of which are on the 213 route. Although his work focuses on World War One, memorials remind us of the suffering endured in all wars and are important features in the built landscape. The 213 route goes past prominent memorials on New Malden High Street, Worcester Park, Cheam and Sutton.