K01: Fairfield Bus Station


A History of the Cattle Market

Livestock had been sold in Kingston’s Market Place on Saturdays since 1603, when James I of England granted the rights to a market for the purpose. The Cattle Market as held on a Monday was only introduced in 1918 (March 12th), to supplement market days on Wednesday, Thursdays and Saturdays providing increased access to the food supply during World War One. Due to increased motor traffic and space requirements, the Monday Cattle Market was moved to the Fairfield site and officially opened by the Mayor, Councillor G D Densham on Monday 20th April 1925.

The Surrey Comet for April 25th describes the new market in some detail. The Fairfield site was five times the size of the Market Place, with pens for sheep and pigs and special sheds for calves. The surface was covered in concrete, with a weighing machine between the enclosures and the selling place through which each animal was passed and their weight shown on a large clock face. There were 80 pens for pigs, 26 for sheep, 400ft of cattle rails, and a shed for dairy cows and calves. A granite run for horses meant that the animals didn’t need to be tested on the roads. Granite sets paved the areas between pens and there was also a toll collector’s office and toilet. The whole market was enclosed by 6ft high iron fencing, and cost the borough about £6000 to build.

This market proved so popular it was expanded in size in 1926, but its success was short lived due to rapid housing and road expansion in the interwar years which swallowed up the farmland surrounding Kingston. The Second World War provided a much needed boost to the market as it was designated an official trading place by the Ministry of Agriculture. After the war, there was another rapid decline in livestock sold but even in 1953 300 cattle, sheep and calves and a whopping 8000 pigs were traded. The Cattle Market finally stopped trading in 1957 and was replaced by a regular Monday Market and car park.

The car park itself was just one of many developed in Kingston: the first public car park was on Eden Street West and opened in 1925. A car park at the Cattle Market site was first proposed by Alderman A G Knowlden in 1955, however the large basement car park wasn’t constructed until 1985 along with the development of the new Fairfield Bus Station and Kingston Town Centre ring road.. The finished construction provided 491 underground spaces. It was refurbished in 2008 by Stirling Lloyd Construction costing £360,000 for 14,000m2. Surface parking costs £1 per 30 minutes during the day and £2 flat rate in the evenings, with 100 spaces available, and basement parking costs £1.40 an hour plus 70p for every further 30 minutes, or £2 flat rate in the evenings. An annual season ticket costs a whopping £2592.00 – so I’m glad I’ve got my bus!

During the basement car park construction, the Monday Market took place on a site in Ashdown Road with 180 regualar and 40 casual traders using 250 pitches. Today’s Monday Market sells bric-a-brac and is much reduced in size. It is managed by KingstonFirst on behalf of the Council, with 50 traders selling from 9am-1.30pm. One 10ft pitch costs £25.70 per week.

When the land was granted for the Cattle Market in 1925, it came with this interesting condition of land use: ‘that if at any time the said land shall cease to be used for the purpose hereby authorised such land shall again become an open space or recreation ground’. The Borough seems to have conveniently forgotten this clause – unless you count a car park as ‘open space or recreation ground’*!

* Indeed, if you search the web for ‘Cattle Market Car Park Kingston’ you can find some interesting options for potential recreational activity in the car park toilets. Not what the Ministry of Health had in mind when they attempted to protect Kingston’s open spaces, I think….


Surrey Comet: April 25th 1925, March 6th 1982,  June 7th 1985, November 20th 1987

Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book. London: Historical Publications Ltd






Becoming the 213 bus

My  life has become the bus. This project has been on my mind for the last 7 months, and there has been no escape because I have to use the 213 bus every day to get to work and back again. On Tuesday I have to hand something in for my MA degree at Kingston. It’ll be ready, but I’ve got the sort of work ethic which makes me want to go right up to the wire, even if that isn’t entirely necessary.

One of the earliest memory fliers that I received was from my course mate Pirrko and this is what she wrote:

My bus stop is NA

I’ve been using the 213 bus for – years

I walk past the Fairfield Bus Station on my way to University of Kingston and often see the 213 bus, which makes me think of Amy who is doing a creative project on that bus route. In a sense, the bus has become to symbolise Amy – her creativeness and love for quirky things.

You may remember from a previous post that I did joke about dressing up in a cardboard bus costume at Malden Fortnight. Unfortunately, with one thing and another I didn’t quite get it finished in time. However, it is finished and last week I went on the bus as the bus…You might ask why, and to be honest, if I’d been asked that on the bus I don’t quite know what I would have said.

The essay component of my project is all about the everyday, and how we should find more joy in our daily lives – bus travel can be joyful if you look at it the right way. Yes, waiting at the stop in the cold and rain is rubbish, and the stink of stale alcohol and wee on some late-night journeys can be really unpleasant. But looking out the window, you are bombarded with endless images, some of which are incredibly beautiful: the sunset, daffodils in bloom, pouring rain which makes everything glimmer. The buzzing of the air con relaxes me so much I tend to fall asleep, and eavesdropped conversations can be so funny, or thought-provoking, or utterly bizarre.

On the bus, you are with a whole load of strangers who you might never meet in another aspect of you life. This is important for social equality, if you sit in a car all day you might feel safe, but you are also isolated from the world and other people. On the bus you have to be with people who you might totally disagree with, or you might meet a future husband or wife. The bus is a place of possibilities.

I became the bus because I wanted people to think about the bus for once, I wanted people to be intrigued or amused, I wanted to intervene in the everyday lives of a few unsuspecting bus users. Secondly, I felt the need to possess the bus – I’ve invested so much of my life in this project, I’ve often felt totally consumed by it, becoming the bus is kind of taking it over, making it mine. Thirdly, I’ve got an epic fancy dress costume for Halloween and a great talking piece in the form of a bus costume-bedside cabinet!

A lot of people simply won’t get the point of this project. And it may mean absolutely nothing in the long run to anyone but me. On the other hand, we all have a 213 bus: it might be the bus or train you get to work or school everyday, or even the route you walk to get to your local shops. It’s a time and place where you live most of your lives – I hope my project inspires someone somewhere to re-imagine their 213 as joyful, something worth paying attention to, as you simply don’t know what will be revealed.

It is worth the expense of youthful days and costly hours if you learn only some words of an ancient language, which are raised out of the trivialness of the street, to be perpetual suggestions and provocations

Jane Bennett (2001) The Enchantment of Modern Life. Woodstock: Princeton University Press. p.95. Originally from Henry David Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.

P.s. Next week the local history starts in earnest with Fairfield Bus Station (K1)  – a history of the Cattle Market Car Park in Kingston. Bet you can’t wait?!

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.