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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K07: Park Road

K07 blog illustration.jpg

Two tales from World War Two

Trying to understand today what it must have been like to be a civilian during the Second World War in Kingston is quite impossible. The continuous threat from bombardment, the rationing, the worry for loved ones on the front, carrying your gas mask everyone, queues for the buses, houses destroyed down your street, patches of intelligence about the atrocities in the East – the sheer pressure of the situation, and the only consolation that it least it was shared by everybody, and we were just “another south-west suburb” (Surrey Comet, 1944). This blog is about two aspects of the war experience in Park Road, Kingston: bombardment and war time manufacturing.
SC1945Jan27

“V Bomb Kills Five”

There were a number of HE (High Explosive) bomb strikes on or near Park Road early in the war recorded by the ARP Wardens of Kingston Council on a ‘Bomb Map’ available at Kingston History Centre. They were at 20:43 on 30/10/1940, 19:19 on 12/11/1940 and 20:33 on 29/11/1940. The Park Road – New Road junction was also the location for the only V-2 rocket to land in the former Borough of Kingston, the present monument at the site erected in 1995.

V-2s were retribution weapons, the first long-range guided ballistic missiles, sent over London by the German Luftwaffe as payback for the effective bombardment of German cities by the Allies. According to Wikipedia, modern reconstructions estimate that they create a crater of 20m wide, by 8m deep, ejecting around 3000 tons of material into the surroundings.

The bomb landed at 14:35 on Monday, 22nd January 1945. The article to the right is how the Surrey Comet wrote about it in their issue of 27th January 1945, page 7.

Later, A.W. Forsdike, Town Clerk and ARP Controller, wrote a report on the incident. There were 5 immediate fatalities, and 3 later in hospital as well as 120 injured. The injured were treated at the Aid Post and Kingston Hospital: “at one period it was thought that the hospital may become congested”. In total, 40 people were hospitalised. Kings Road, Tudor Road, New Road and Elm Road were also damaged with a total 2004 houses affected (33 demolished, 80 seriously damaged).

His report describes how “the most severe and widespread incident in the Borough” was managed by a mixture of civilian volunteers and service personnel. ARP Wardens, the National Fire Service and Police were in action by 14:42. British soldiers from the nearby barracks and American Forces from encampment in Richmond Park cleared the roads within 3 hours. A mobile First Aid post was set up by the Women’s Voluntary Service and Housewives. Dangerous work was carried out to rescue those under rubble by Wardens and the Heavy and Light Rescue Parties from the Borough’s Villier’s Road Depot, led by a man called Coulton: “All the living casualties were extricated within about an hour”.

Incident Control was set up in houses opposite Alexandra Hotel for three weeks, manned by ARP Wardens. An Enquiry Point was managed by the WVS for one week after the event and they also managed a large number of curved asbestos huts later erected to meet the housing shortage on the road. Forsdike wrote that: “Owing to the tremendous demand for labour in the London area, we are only permitted to repair houses up to a standard laid down by the Ministry and known as “reasonable comfort”. Plastering, painting and distempering (except patching) at the present stage, is entirely prohibited, except under exceptional circumstances.”

For me, the most evocative and poignant description in the newspaper article is the call by rescuers for silence. Silence. Silence, in order to listen for life, rescuers ‘holding their breath whilst…bent low and strained to hear a noise which would guide them to a rescue’ (Surrey Comet, 27/1/1945). It is unsettling to imagine the scene, as children were dragged alive from the rubble.

 

Park Works, 16 Park Road

One way in which we remember the past is through the designation of the built environment as having some sort of historical interest: this could be through identifying conservation areas, or protecting certain buildings from adaptation and demolition. This is done at local level by the Council and at national level by Historic England (previously English Heritage).

The south of Park Road is in a conservation area and ‘area of special local interest’, designated in June 1989 by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. In April 2015, a planning application was made by Countywide Design to convert Park Works, 16 Park Road (a site on the junction with Borough Road) from multiple occupancy industrial estate into homes and white collar office accommodation. The application was withdrawn in November 2015.

In the early part of the 20th century Park Works was used by Jabez Summers and Son who were builders. From 1922 to 1971, H D Symons & Co Ltd used the works and in war time they were involved in producing glass fabric insulation used in the aircraft industry. This activity was considered of national importance, damage or destruction to/of the factory was to be reported to the Ministry of Home Security (ref.Emergency Control File).

The factory expanded in 1939 to a design by A.P. Starkey, better known as an Odeon Cinema architect, to house 260 workers, of whom 230 were women. The two-storey facade to Borough Road was added at this time, with a pillbox or fire watching post incorporated into the design in early 1941, after the previous winter’s bombardments of the local area (as detailed above). To avoid disruption to production, factory owners would often build their own watchtowers which would  allow work to continue below as the air raid sounded. Employees would keep a look out above and warn of likely incendiary devices, at which point workers would rush to the shelters. The factory therefore represents a number of interesting historical themes: the significance of local, small scale manufacture to the war effort, women’s roles in the war, and wartime design. The Borough Road facade is now listed Grade II thanks for the efforts of a man called Nigel Bailey, who has kindly written the following:

When I was alerted to the fact that Park Works was under threat of demolition, I was motivated to get it listed for two reasons, firstly because it is a rather unique building, secondly because it was clearly part of Kingston local war time history. The building had a story to tell. I started with the Pillbox-study-group.org.uk. I was surprised that despite them not being aware of it, they seemed unintererested. I wondered if they thought it was a folly, not a genuine pillbox. When I discovered that the original drawings for the building described it as a fire watch post, it convinced me that the building was all the more unique. After all, there are lots of pillboxes dotted about the countryside.

It still irritates that I couldn’t establish exactly what was manufactured at the factory. Insulated electrical wiring seems most likely. Not quite the story I was hoping for, but I was pleased that Historic England agreed with my supposition that it was supplied to the Hawker Aircraft industry for use on the Hurricane fighter planes. The high point in my research was when I found a letter in the Kingston Emergency Control File, kindly retrieved by Kingston Local History, which described Park Works as being of national importance during wartime.

My pleasure at Park Works being grade II listed was slightly dampened by the fact that Historic England only listed the front section of the building- the canteen- and fire watch post. The saw tooth roofed workshops, where the manufacturing took place, remain unprotected despite the delightful architectural interiors.

 It is only through the effort of local people, that the past can be remembered and preserved and I personally feel that Park Works story is worth looking after. I visited the site yesterday and can appreciate that it isn’t the tidiest part of our shared borough, but factories are messy places, they are where things are made which demands a certain amount of chaos. Park Works also remains an important facility for small local businesses.

 

Both stories – one of destruction and the other of production – seek to illustrate the human experience of war in Kingston, and how we attempt to remember, understand and protect it in the present. This blog is written in remembrance of the eight casualties from the V-2 rocket strike, of whom we only know five names.

 Amy Ethel Dormer
Patricia Land
Winifred Gertrude Maton
Mary Read
Vera Styles

Sources

Bailey, N (2015) Park Works: A case for its Ptotection  Unpublished, available at Kingston History Centre

Built Heritage Consultancy (2015) Park Works Kingston upon Thames: Heritage Statement  Available here.

Burford, R (2015) ‘Small businesses fact the boot as developers plan Kingston industrial park redevelopment’ Your Local Guardian Available here.

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

Forsdike, A W (1945) Town Clerk’s Air Raid Reports 1940-1945 Unpublished, available at Kingston History Centre, reference KT189.

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (2015) Planning Database Available here.

Royal Borough of Kingston (2016) List of Conservation Areas Available here

Surrey Comet, 27th January 1945, p.7.

Wikipedia (2016) V-2 rocket Available here.

Stopping the bus to anywhere

Those of you who are very observant may know that there are in fact two types of bus stop: ‘Bus Stops’ and ‘Request Stops’. The logo on ‘Bus Stop’ flags is red on a white background, ‘Request Stop’ flags have the reverse. The bus is technically meant to stop at every ‘Bus Stop’ if there is someone waiting there, i.e. you shouldn’t have to stick your hand out to wave it down at these types of stop. However, I wonder how often this works in practice: I for one always wave down the bus even though my stop is a Bus Stop, and I’ve only ever had one 151 pull up to ask if I wanted to get on in almost two years of waiting there. With 24 Bus Stops towards Sutton, and 24 back towards Kingston, you can imagine the route might take a lot longer if the bus actually stopped every time it is meant to. On the other hand, people with reduced mobility, or those who physically can’t wave down the bus (e.g. blind people; where the stop is positioned right after a turn in the road) should have some security that their bus will actually stop for them!

Bus stop flags are really well designed things, displaying information simply with a versatile design which serves the whole of London. They also reveal something about the bus stop: that catching a bus there actually gives you an opportunity to go anywhere because all stops and bus routes are interconnected.

From 213  stops you can also catch: 57; 80; 85; 93; 131; 151; 154; 164; 265; 280; 371; 407; 413; 420; 470; 613; 627; 665; 668; 773; 775; A3; E16;  K1; K2; K3; K4; K5; KU1; KU3; N44; N87; S1; S3; S4; X26 – that is 36 different bus routes! Plus it connects you directly to railways at Worcester Park and New Malden, plus Sutton, Cheam, Malden Manor, Norbiton and Kingston if you can walk a bit. I will eventually put this all on a map but for now, the mind boggles at the numbers alone!

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.

Waiting for a bus….

Avid Readers (hehem….),

May I again apologise for the long delay since my last post. It has been totally hectic as I have put the final touches to two modules’ assessments: one about the future of Local History Museums in London, the other about Torture at the Tower of London. Exciting stuff, but not what this blog is all about.

So, I promise I have been procrastinating, I mean, working when I could on this project and have been going through all the photos I have taken on the route, editing and renaming them. I have designated all the stops a special code which may or may not prove helpful in the long run. It is useful because now all the files are in route order e.g. from Kingston, Fairfield Bus Station is ‘K1’, Eden Street is ‘K2’, Cromwell Road is ‘K3’ etc. It is not useful because duplicate stop names now have two codes e.g. Fairfield Bus Station is also ‘S46’ being the last stop from Sutton on the 213. I’m not sure I’d make a very good archivist, managing information is tricksy!

Waiting for a 213?

Waiting for a 213?

As well as messing about on Photoshop, I have been practising the art of  ‘participant observation’. If you ever use the 213, I’m the one with the little green notebook writing down everything you say! Mostly I have been observing myself as the little gems of insight below will attest:

8/5/13 towards Kingston, 1pm: Ate my lunch on the bus, it was tricksy because of the balsamic dressing – not too stinky though

8/5/13 towards Sutton, 6pm: Bus on diversion due to closure of Eden Street. Smells of lime jelly; traffic is bad

9/5/13, towards Sutton, 7.50pm: Cold, drizzly rain makes waiting for the bus not very nice! Bus on diversion from Kingston Hospital to Langley Grove, down Coombe Lane West and Traps Lane

10/5/13, towards Kingston, 9am: Ran for the bus – always a difficult call because you never know if the driver will wait; still no announcement for Brabham Court; Gary the Transport Surveyor for RBK was on the bus, ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’

24/5/13, towards Sutton, 5pm: Two guys and a lass talking about clubbing, the lass had spent so much at Ann Summers she ‘got free lube’ and was happy to share that insight with the whole bus.

25/5/13, towards Kingston, 9am: Just missed my usual bus and since they aren’t so regular on Saturdays it means I will be later for work than I want to be; X26 goes past at 9.03am, could’ve probably made that had I walked directly to Worcester Park

More to follow – I promise to start some serious eavesdropping. The problem is, most of it isn’t particularly wholesome listening. In the past I have heard about: a man going to the magistrates’ for a hearing telling his mate he hopes to get off a custodial sentence; a woman arguing with her partner over the phone about custody of their child; a man questioning the paternity of an unknown woman’s baby, and how the likely father was a nutcase; who fancies who, who is sleeping with who. Maybe it’s just that these are the conversations which stick in the mind… I should probably frequent the lower deck more often to hear about babies and shopping….