K11: Kenley Road

K11.JPG

Kenley Road was laid out in 1931-2 with no.2 being completed on 24th July 1931 and later numbers approved in January 1932 and completed in the autumn of that year (for example, no.20 completed 7th October 1932). You can view images of the road during construction  here at the Britain from Above website.

A Change in Route

In Spring 1963, the 213 bus route changed from going along Traps Lane and Coombe Lane and began an additional service along Clarence Avenue and Kenley Road. This became the route as we know it now, but not all residents at the time approved of the change.

The change of route was advocated by the Borough of Malden and Coombe for many years. At a committee meeting of the Public Health, Works and Highways Committee of 24th April 1963, complaints were received from 7 individuals and by one letter signed by 25 people. Chairman of the committee Alderman A Hill responded to the concerns by saying: “I can take this back 30 years and remember well the time these people and others like them objected to a public house being built” before going on to be the ones who used it(!). Another member, Alderman A Arbon-Collins stated that “you cannot hold up progress”. Hard to imagine elected members talking in quite the same tone today, or a change in bus route being described as ‘progress’.

Residents were able to negotiate the siting of new bus stops, firstly in a meeting with Kingston Borough Council and the Transport Board, and later through petition direct to the Department for Transport. There was, for a time, a bus stop ‘on the corner’ which was re-sited onto Gloucester Road after complaints that it was ‘dangerous and noisy’.

The new route ran from 8th May 1963.

To end on…

In the initial coverage from the Kingston Borough News, Kenley Road was referred to as Kenley Avenue. In correcting them, a local resident sent this to the paper:

We will walk up the Avenue not a Bus in sight; But we will run Down the Road for a 213 tonight

Sources
  • Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw040758)
  • ‘Kenley Road Residents Angry’, in Kingston Borough News, 24th May 1963 p.1
  • ‘New Bus Service: Complaints Fail’, in Kingston Borough News, 3rd May 1963 p.1
  • ‘Residents Angry at New Malden Bus Run: Kenley Ave Objections’, in Kingston Borough News, 26th April 1963 p.1

 

 

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K10: Gloucester Road

K10John Galsworthy, Coombe and the Forsyte Saga

On 1st March 1968, part of Gloucester Road (the section north of the Coombe Road/Coombe Lane juction) was renamed Galsworthy Road. This was after the writer John Galsworthy, but came at the same time as the great success of the TV adaption of his most famous work the Forsyte Saga. [Also, Soame’s Walk, off Trap’s Lane was named after a main character in ‘Man of Property’].

Galsworthy’s connections with Coombe

John Galsworthy was born on Kingston Hill in November 1867 and spent his childhood there until 1886. He died in Hampstead on 21st January 1933 from a stroke, having been suffering from a brain tumour. He had been too ill to collect the Nobel Prize for Literature which he was awarded in 1932.

The connection of Galsworthy with Coombe is actually due to the author’s father, also John Galsworthy, who built large houses on the estate formerly owned by the Duke of Cambridge, off Grange Road. He was a churchwarden at St John the Baptist, Kingston Vale and his wife was a Surbitonian. The houses he built were Coombe Warren (1868, later renamed Coombe Court, demolished 1931), Coombe Leigh (1873, later Coombe Ridge, now Holy Cross Preparatory School) and Coombe Croft (1878, now Rokeby Preparatory School) and the Galsworthy family lived in each of them for a time. John Galsworthy the author was born in another large house called Parkfield, which is now a nursing home called Galsworthy House. Coombe Warren was the inspiration for ‘Robin Hood’ – the house built by Soames in the Forsyte Saga.

‘The Forsyte Saga’, TV Adaptation, 1967-68

The Forsyte Saga TV show was 26 episodes long, and the last major serial to be filmed in black and white by the BBC. Its original run was on BBC2, from 7th January 1967 to 1st July 1967, but it gained huge popularity in 1968 when it was repeated on BBC1 at 7:25pm on Sundays. Kingston History Centre volunteer Dan said it “had the nation in thrall, with a stellar cast!” and my mum said “I saw the TV series (years ago) and found it very sad and tragic then”. The final episode shown in 1968 had 18 million viewers tuning in (compare that to Strictly Come Dancing Final 2015 which gained 12 million viewers). The series went on to be  shown around the world and was the first BBC TV series to be sold to the Soviet Union. It is estimated that it had a worldwide audience of 160 million people.

The Forsyte Saga, paperback edition published 1970

In preparation for writing this blog, I read the trilogy which includes ‘The Man of Property’ (first published 1906), ‘In Chancery’ (first published 1920) and ‘To Let’ (first published 1921). It’s available to loan from Surbiton Library and I well recommend it. The Saga is part one of three which form the Forsyte Chronicles.

The three novels tell the story of Old Jolyon, his son Jolly and nephew Soames, and their children. It is poetically written, from the point of view of the individual characters, how they relate to each other and the world.

A major theme is the concept of ‘property’, in relation to a physical house and also between a husband and wife. When you enter a relationship, and particularly a marriage, do you in some ways take on the ownership of your partner and they you? Can you have expectations on them? Can you judge them as you would yourself? Or do you remain as individuals who just happen to be co-habiting? The novels (and my own reflections) expose that marriage is, at least in part, an outward showing of unity to society, but that within it, both parties remain in some sense strangers to one another (and maybe even themselves), as the concept of ‘self’ is always transitional.

There are no real heroes, but rather each character and their motivations are presented as conflicted and ambiguous. The division between right and wrong and how personal desires can influence or change your moral outlook is explored through different generations of the Forsyte family as they negotiate an ever changing world (The Boer War, motor cars). I felt that it was a moving and honest presentation of human nature.

Death is ever present in the Saga and this really struck a chord with me having recently lost a beloved grandparent. The deaths of various characters are portrayed skilfully and poignantly. Some deaths are anticipated but the last moment is always sudden, always heart breaking. To die an old man is just as painful as to die a youth, despite what the living might say to console ourselves. Galsworthy captured beautifully the feeling of loneliness that one must feel in the moment of death, a final goodbye to yourself, whether worn through old age, through sickness or tragedy. The Saga helped me explore my grief but also made me quite sad at times.

Sources

Butters, S (2013) ‘That Famous Place’ A History of Kingston upon Thames Kingston University Press

Galsworthy, J (1970) The Forsyte Saga: Part 1 Penguin Books Ltd

The Nobel Foundation (1932) John Galsworthy – Biographical Available here.

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (undated) John Galsworthy in Coombe [leaflet available at Kingston History Centre]

2-1-3-A-B-C

Have you ever wondered what all the numbers and letters on buses and their stops mean? Here is a limited guide to what I’ve learnt…

ON THE BUS

Letters and numbers on the front of the bus:

The letters refer to the bus type/ design, since 1990s privatisation, the number of types has really expanded. Letters for classic bus types include ‘RM’ for Routemasters, ‘RT’ for Regent Three, and ‘RF’ for Regal Four. The 213 uses DOEs  (Alexander Dennis Trident II Optare Enviro 400) and PVLs (London Plaxton President bodied Volvos). The number afterwards is individual to the bus, like the numbers assigned to limited edition artist’s prints.

DOE28 at Sutton Garage. 'DOE' refers to bus type (both chassis and body design), '28' is the individual number assigned to that specific bus.

DOE28 at Sutton Garage. ‘DOE’ refers to bus type (both chassis and body design), ’28’ is the individual number assigned to that specific bus.

Combination of letters and numbers on the side of the bus:

The letter refers to the garage where the bus comes from. So, all 213s will have ‘A###’, where ‘A’ means Sutton. Previously, they could have had ‘K’ for Kingston or ‘NB’ for Norbiton Garages but they are both long gone now, Kingston where Oceana now is, Norbiton where the Wickes store is. The number following, the running number, indicates where the bus is in the fleet, so if you wait to see a few buses pass they should be in chronological sequence. This number corresponds to a duty number on the driver’s duty card, this tells the driver where on the route they are supposed to be at a certain time.

The letter number combination on the yellow panel tells you that the 213 is from Sutton (A) and its running number is '250' - so the next bus should be '251'

The letter number combination on the yellow panel tells you that the 213 is from Sutton (A) and its running number is ‘250’ – so the next bus should be ‘251’

STOP SIGNS AND SHELTERS

Stop sign for Malden Green Avenue

Stop sign for Malden Green Avenue – Towards Sutton

Yellow/Orange numbers and letters on stop signs/ Numbers on bus shelters:

These numbers are assigned by London Buses/ Transport for London presumable for maintenance and inventory purposes. The yellow number is called an ‘Origination and Destination plate’. All the stops in Kingston Borough start with K and all the stops in Sutton with J but I don’t know anything else about them

Live departure numbers:

These numbers appear on a red and grey panel fixed on the sign post. You can also get a full list of these on TfL’s website which allows people with fancy phones (what I call smart phones) to find out when the next bus will arrive at any given stop.

Letters above stop signs:

This is called a ‘Point Letter’ and refers to a position on a map which is used when there are a number of different bus stops to choose from, i.e. at interchanges and town centres. It is specific to a physical location so that for example, on the 213 route there are three stops with point letter E.

Number on stop sign (underside)

This is called the stop number and is unique to the sign, it is on a little greyish disk on the bottom of the route display, for London Bus’s inventory records.

Individual shelter number and map for identifying your stop.

Individual shelter number and location map for identifying your stop.

21/3 on the 213

I meant to write this last Thursday, sorry for the delay!

I caught the bus from Kingston (Fairfield Bus Station) at about 9.10pm as I’d been working late. The bus was really busy – presumably with other late workers – who mostly got off at The Plough, Old Malden.

At around Cambridge Road, New Malden, I overheard a conversation between a young woman and her friend (well… I didn’t hear the friend as it was a phone call!) and the basic message was that the woman on the bus was advising her friend not to get sacked, and rather, to hand in her notice. It seemed like pretty sensible advice to me. I guess that the reason I remember the conversation is I was thinking about my own career at the time.

As well as studying for my MA, I work for Kingston Museum and Heritage Service 4 days a week. I really enjoy my job as I am learning a lot – not just about the heritage sector, but also about working for a local authority and also how to behave professionally. It’s a tough world out there, and you have to make the most of every opportunity – above this, I think it’s really important to get along with people.

Heritage might appear to be about material things : objects, castles, 1950’s buses, but fundamentally it is actually about people: who they were, what they valued and what they have chosen to give to us (their future). What the woman on the bus was telling her friend, was ‘don’t jeopardise your future’  and this too is the basic message of heritage. Learn from people who came before, let’s share their stories together, and tomorrow will be better.

Roger’s 213

from 28th August 1993

Your timetables for Routes 151 and 213, August 1993

A few weeks ago now, I met a nice gentleman called Roger who had heard me speak at the Maldens and Coombe Heritage Society. He is a pensioner who spends some of his time as a paid Transport Surveyor on London Transport so he knows a lot! He also happens to have a wonderful collection of bus ephemera: tickets, timetables, other leaflets which he kindly leant to me. I’ve now scanned it all in and will be uploading bits as time goes on.

Roger shared a few of his experiences on the 213 which were particularly evocative to me. In 1969, Roger was commuting on the 213 to North Cheam and there was a regular fellow passenger on the upper deck who used to chain smoke for the whole journey. As a none smoker, I can’t really imagine anything worse than being stuck in a moving metal box, smoke billowing, but I guess it was fairly common in the late 1960s. It makes quite a contrast to the annoying habits of the average fellow passenger nowadays – listening to music too loud, gossiping about their sex lives….but my absolute worst complaint is when people eat really smelly food on the bus home, when I’m starving for my dinner! A few years ago, Roger’s stop ‘Oak Road’ got bus shelters and apparently one of the neighbours complained. This made me think about how (potentially) disruptive it would be to have a bus stop located right outside your door, and buses zooming along your road every 3-5minutes (one going each way at 6-10 minute intervals), it must actually be quite intrusive to your daily life. Finally, another insight into the lives of bus drivers: apparently the 213 route is favoured by older and female drivers because of the ‘facilities’ at both ends of the route. The average shift might be 4 round trips, i.e. Sutton-Kingston, Kingston-Sutton x 4 which is actually quite a lot of driving, particularly when road works seem to make parts of the route into a crawl (A3 to Worcester Park, North Cheam). It’s bad enough being on the bus in such conditions, but to be driving must be really frustrating! I suppose automatic transmission makes it a bit easier than manual, but still!

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

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.