A gentleman called Ron invited me round for tea with him and his wife Julia months ago. They were so lovely and hospitable, I am ashamed it has taken so long for me to write up their 213 story.
Ron moved to New Malden with his parents in 1967. In 1975, he and Julia were married and lived together in Motspur Park, both working in accountancy, Ron for Kingston NHS at Kingston and Surbiton Hospitals. In 1993, they moved to Mayfair Avenue, near to Malden Green Avenue stop.
They have two sons, and Julia remembers travelling on the 213A for hospital appointments during her pregnancy in 1979. One son went to Tiffin Boys, the other to Sutton Grammar so they both used the 213 but going in opposite directions. Nowadays, Julia uses it to get to fitness classes in New Malden and they both may occasionally catch the bus from New Malden Station after coming back from central London – I do this too if I’ve missed the train to Worcester Park and it saves a walk at the other end! Because the 213 links to lots of other routes and is regular, it is a very useful bus. Also changes such as the Oyster Card system and ‘countdown’ at stops and on mobile phones have really improved the customer experience and generally made it easier to use.
Ron is very interested in heritage and local history, and provided me with a list of useful local history publications. Here are some of the things he told me:
– The place name, ‘Malden’ is derived from ‘Maeldune’ meaning ‘cross on the hill’ in Old English, which refers to the ancient church of St John the Baptist in Old Malden
– New Malden Railway Station kept having its name changed. When is was first built in the mid 1800, it was called ‘Malden’, then ‘New Malden and Coombe’, then ‘Coombe and Malden’, then ‘Malden for Coombe’, then ‘Malden’ again and finally in 1957 it was named ‘New Malden’ Station. A case of confused identity maybe?
– Longfellow Road, Worcester Park was apparently childhood home to John Major, whose father was a garden gnome maker. Longfellow Road itself is one of the oldest in Worcester Park so maybe that is why it has a stop named after it, rather than there being a stop called ‘Worcester Park High Street’ or even ‘Central Road’ instead.
– Malden Road leading to Worcester Park used to be lined with lombardy poplars (we’ve got a lovely photo of this in the Kingston Local History Room collection). Many of the trees were found to be diseased and had to be cut down in October 2010. They have been replaced by oaks after a public consultation.
Another time, Ron took me for a little tour of the local area, showing me St John the Baptist Church, and the extend of Nonsuch Great Park, which is Worcester Park now and how the road names come from the old field names. We then went up Trap’s Lane in Coombe and looked at John Galsworthy’s house on Coombe Hill and what is now Rokeby School. After that we visited Kingston University’s Roehampton campus which is part of what was the KLG spark plug factory. This was significant to Kingston’s history as Kenelm Lee Guiness (KLG) supplied spark plugs to Hawker Aviation and both of these factories were reasons to bomb the local area during the Second World War.
Meeting Ron and Julia made me realise that being here (living in Worcester Park/London), it can be possible to make yourself a little place, feel a sense of community and start to know people. I moved here almost two years ago and through this project I have realised just how many interesting people I have met and come to know. Also, learning stories about a place’s past helps you understand reasons for the present, and makes me feel a sense of continuity and embeddedness, that my experiences flow back through time and have been shared by countless others. Maybe people can have more than one home, they can belong to more than one place and time. I need to remember this feeling and be positive about the now, finding meaning and joy in my everyday life – that’s the point right?