K15: Langley Grove

Malden Golf Club at Traps Lane, 1926

The Malden Golf Club had their original course near to Raynes Park Station and were founded in 1893, incorporated as a Limited Company in 1924. The Club moved to New Malden in early 1926 when the lease on the Raynes Park land had run out. It was being acquired for construction work, and wasn’t ideal for a course because it became “merely a swamp in parts after heavy rain”.

The new site at New Malden was chosen due to its sandy sub-soil which meant it would hopefully stay dry in winter. It was taken with a 21 year lease. The new course was designed by Harold Bailey FRIBA and Guilford Dudley. Plans were received in 1925, with greens and fairways being seeded before end of April 1925, and trees, broom, heather all planted in the autumn of that year. Construction of the Clubhouse began in May 1925, officially completed on 15th February 1926 according to planning records. Around 50 workmen had been involved in the construction of the new facilities.

The course was opened finally on 1st May 1926 by Col. Sir Augustus FitzGeorge, President of the Club and descendant of the 2nd Duke of Cambridge, owner of the Coombe Estate (explaining the origin of local road and institutional names). It covered 115 acres and was 6250 yards long, comprising of two loops both with 9 holes, starting at the clubhouse. 8 holes were 400 yards or longer, 4 were short holes. Both the Coombe and Beverley Brooks had to be negotiated with driving shots.

The Clubhouse was “Georgian in character”, “constructed with every consideration for the comfort of the members” which included the installation of central heating, what a luxury! The ground floor had a main hall, card and writing rooms, refreshments lounge, dressing room with shower, bath and lavatory, drying room for clothes. The first floor had a large dining hall accessed via a fine oak staircase, a kitchen, pantry, the steward’s quarters, ladies dressing room and ladies lounge.

Membership swelled to 389 in the first year at their new home.

The club grounds were used for agricultural production during the Second World War and the clubhouse was a base for the local Home Guard.

Malden’s Other Golf Clubs

Malden had 3 18-hole golf courses with the completion for the new course: Coombe Hill, Coombe Wood and New Malden Golf Club.  Really indicative of the popularity of the game at that time.

In the Maldens and Coombe Urban District Council Act 1933, the council sought to acquire and manage the ‘Coombe Lands’, 187 acres occupied by 300 separate owners and including both the Coombe Hill and Coombe Wood golf courses. This would allow council rights to private roads allowing for repairs, consistent provision of sewers and drains, and the ability to charge improvement rates to local occupiers from 28th July 1933. It cost the UDC £72,000. National government leant the money, to be paid back through general rates: at the time is was deemed  “unlikely that a Bill of this kind will ever come before us again”.

The Golf Courses would come under municipal management, charging admission. The idea of the Act was that these areas would be protected as open space for all time, for which surrounding properties would pay a fee for 21 years, according to proximity to the courses. The open spaces were deemed as a valuable asset, enhancing property prices of the local area – still true to this day.

Fun facts: #007

According to my 213 friend Roger, Langley Grove was a secret hide out for Russian spies. No more information on when or what they were doing there (hope I haven’t blown anyone’s cover!?) so if you have more on this story, I’d love to know!

Sources:

  • Gems, J N (Robin) (1990) The Story of Malden Golf Club Malden Golf Club
  • “Clubs” feature, Malden Village Voice, April 2015, pp.28-29
  • “New Golf Club: A course being constructed at New Malden”, Surrey Comet, 16th May 1925, p.13
  • “Opening of New Golf Course at Malden”, Surrey Comet, 9th January 1926, p.3
  • “Opening of New Malden Golf Course”, Surrey Comet, 22nd May 1926, p.5
  • Surrey Comet, 19th July 1933, p.5, 8, 10
  • Surrey Comet, 22nd July 1933, p.3, 7
  • Surrey Comet, 29th July 1933, p.16

 

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K14: Coombe Girls Schools

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Coombe Girls’ School, originally Coombe County Secondary Girls’ School pre-1965, opened in 1955. It is listed under both Clarence Avenue and Darley Drive in Kingston’s planning database (the later is a bus blind destination for when the 213 is running a shortened route). The Planning Record shows that movable classrooms were added in 1966, the caretaker’s flat in 1972, garages in 1975, a portable double classroom in 1993, a three storey extenstion in 1998, a new sixth form centre 2001, extensions in 2003 and 2009, the refurbishment of a lab in 2004, Sports Hall and Music & Drama suites in 2004, and GP surgery 2004. This shows how the demands on the school have changed and increased over time to accommodate more and more students and to offer a wider curriculum.

A guide to Secondary Education at Kingston History Centre dated 1971 includes a page on Coombe Girls’ School, written by the then Headmistress Mrs A P Taylor.  It mentions route 213A in the second line! Accommodation at the time included 3 Housecraft Rooms, 2 Needlework Rooms, 3 Art Rooms, 5 Science Laboratories, a Language Laboratory, Main Library and 6th Form Reference Library, Gymnasium and Redgra Hockey Pitch. The general course in the first 3 years included Modern Mathematics, Nuffield Science, French, Geography, History, Religious Education, Housecraft, Needlework, Art, Music and Physical Education. English teaching included speech and drama. After that, English, Maths and French were compulsory but otherwise pupils could choose their courses. It was expected that all pupils complete 6 or 7 ‘O’ Levels. At the time, there were 1000 pupils, 100 in the 6th form which offered various  ‘A’ levels, a Commercial Course (shorthand, typing and an ‘A’ level in Economics) and supplementary ‘O’ Levels. Out of school activities included a guitar club, Christian Union and Trampolining. All girls were expected to do homework and to wear school uniform.

Plans to build a sports centre in 2000 had 300 strong resident opposition. An Ofsted report in 1999 said the school had “unsatisfactory” physical education, music and drama facilities. Community use for new facilities was part of the lottery funding, set to be open 9am until 10pm weekdays and 9am until 5pm weekends. Neighbours were against the increase in noise, parking and traffic problems which a new facility might bring and formed an action group in October 1999 to fight the proposals. At the time, 1200 pupils were using the original 1950s sports hall which has been built to accommodate 600, and spending valuable time travelling to facilities at Kingsmeadow and the Malden Centre for lessons. Residents felt that the nature of the area as primarily residential was under threat. The community use of new facilities (eventually built in 2004) doesn’t seem to have happened, although Kingston Adult Education did’ provide tennis courses at the Coombe Evening Centre’, based at the School on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings for a time.

The Girls’ School now forms part of an Academy Trust alongside Coombe Boys’, Coombe Sixth Form and Knollmead Primary.

 

 

Selective Secondary Education in Kingston

On the formation of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in 1965, the Council ran its own schools, further and higher education. It was responsible for around 17,500 pupils, in 39 primary and 15 secondary schools. In 1966, 1700 11 year olds would transfer to secondary education and participate in “A procedure… used to select those pupils who appear to be capable of benefiting from a more intensive academic course”, i.e. the selection process to enter Grammar education which only 20% pupils would be offered.

The test was open to any resident or pupil currently attending school in the borough, and the guidance says that “nothing is lost by unsuitable candidates not taking the  tests” which is certainly an exercise in understanding double negatives. The tests were 3 papers in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning, taken in January 1966, plus an essay submitted at some point during the preceding term; results were adjusted for the age of the pupil. After the results, parents were able to select a first and second choice of school, “organised on a neighbourhood basis” with each school serving its locality. At this time, Coombe Girls School had Grammar places available alongside standard secondary education, i.e. it was mixed stream school.

“Every effort is made to select at eleven years all those pupils who will be suitable for a full course leading to GCE ‘A’ Level but there will be some pupils whose capacity for advanced study does not become apparent until later”.

If you went to a comprehensive and achieved 4 passes at O-Level then you may still be considered for 6th form at a Grammar School, dependent on an entry interview/assessment process.

In 1967, national government promoted and began to enforce comprehensive education rather than the academic selection process of grammars.

I went to a mixed, none-selective state high school and personally don’t think that it is appropriate to judge a child’s ability at the age of 11 years old. I value my time at school as it allowed me to interact with many different types of people and to appreciate that not all knowledge is academic. To limit somebody’s options as a child is to limit the contribution they can make as an adult and I am an advocate for access to an education at any age when a person shows the inclination for it.

 

Sources:

 

K13: Oak Road

K13.jpgOak Road, Clarence Avenue and the surrounding area was developed by EG & LW Berg Limited, of Hinchley Surrey. The development, approved in 1932, was completed 1934(ish), although pipes had been laid out in 1926 with permission of the land owner, the Duke of Cambridge. The layout of roads was agreed with the Urban District Council (UDC) of Maldens and Coombe on 11th July 1933, with the first houses completed by August 1933. Properties were added to land registry in 1953.

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So why might people move to Clarence Avenue? Throughout the first half of the 20th century, all three areas of Kingston, Surbiton and Malden were producing Official Guides as a means of advertising their local area. As Malden’s Official Guide of 1933 states, its aim was ‘to outline, briefly, some of the chief attractions and advantages which have gained for the high-class residential and sports area of the Maldens and Coombe a premier position among the rising towns and districts south-west of the Metropolis’. Certainly a mouthful of a sentence, but indicative of the marketing language of the day. At that time, the UDC were planning to accommodate 70,o00 inhabitants and aiming for a total rateable value of £256,959, how money has changed! They state that valuable estates were being developed ‘along considered lines’. In 1933, the UDC were granted an Act to acquire the ‘Coombe Lands’ (including Coombe Hill and Coombe Wood golf courses) and also purchased land at Malden Green, adding 205 acres of green open space to municipal ownership in one year alone, and providing valuable local amenities which continue to make the Maldens desirable to this day.

Sources:

  • H.M. Land Registry ‘Application for an Official Search’ for Plot 207, Clarence Avenue
  • Letter from Surveyor’s Department of The Maldens & Coombe Urban District Council, Re: New building at Plot 207, Clarence Avenue (31st July 1933)
  • Malden & Coombe Official Guide, 1933
  • Ordnance Survey County of Surrey Sheet Vii-13, 1:2500 revisions of 1911, 1933, 1940
  • Surrey Comet, 19th July 1933, p.5, 8, 10
  • Surrey Comet, 22nd July 1933, p.3, 7
  • Surrey Comet, 29th July 1933, p.16

Drivers: part-human, part-machine

A while back now I contacted Go-Ahead London’s marketing department to see if they were interested in my project. They weren’t – which I thought was a shame, if understandable, they are a private company after all. The reason I was slightly put out about the rejection was that I contacted them because I wanted to learn: firstly about the operator’s experience, i.e. how they deliver bus services and remain profitable; secondly, about bus drivers, their work routines and the experiences they have – to be honest, I thought GoAhead might take the opportunity to show themselves in a good light and also express their appreciation for their drivers.

So, I’ve had to go about things slightly differently: by going to Sutton Garage and hanging about until someone talked to me, Google-ing until I found a 213 bus driver online and relying on chance to give me information about driving the 213 bus.

Who would be a bus driver?

When people complain about bus travel it’s more often that not something to do with bus drivers. They aren’t friendly, don’t say hello, are lazy, bad drivers. It is true that according to the literature, the key factor in positive bus service delivery is the drivers, and a role profile for bus drivers might be something like:

  • Empathetic, approachable
  • Knowledgeable about the local area and transport connections
  • Good communicators, Cooperative
  • Good drivers, holder of PCV license and meets DVLA medical requirements
  • Working towards or hold BTEC qualification; sign up to follow highway code and company code of conduct
  • Patient with good levels of concentration no matter the road traffic conditions, weather, or situation on the bus

but who could realistically meet those criteria, all day, day in day out, which is basically what is required if drivers are to avoid criticism? With a starting salary of £26K, 30 applicants are tested weekly to become drivers, so obviously quite a lot of people want to do it.

213 drivers

I personally really like the 213 drivers. They are always smartly dressed, and most of them seem quite quiet and unassuming. I always say ‘hello’ when I get on, and ‘thanks’ as I get off which might help relations a bit. I have a lot of respect for them because I think that there job is difficult, aside from anything else, they are taking responsibility for a lot of people’s lives.

Here’s a little description of a few of them as I don’t know their names: the quiet, ginger one – think he does the split peak hours shift and gives me a wry smile when he picks me up at Lindsay Road (I think he knows who I am re: this project); then there’s the tattoo-ed,earring-ed bloke with the Elvis haircut and cool attitude; the older gentlemen who I can’t decide if he’s nice or secretly planning to kill us all; the five lady drivers including the Lara Croft lookalike with the Aviators and the petroleum blond one who looks like she should be in Euro-pop group; the silver fox – gentlemen with black hair going grey who is always friendly; the one who picked me up at Fairfield on DOE33 (23/7/13. 5.25pm), called me ‘Princess’ (the first time ever I’ve been called that) which made me grin from ear to ear; the smiley round faced one; the one who stopped a bust up on the bus just last week without even leaving his cab (they aren’t actually allowed to)… There’s loads more but I only see them for like 5 seconds so can’t distinguish them all.

Surveillance

But I’m not the only one looking at the drivers. Within their cab they have various machines which judge their performance and tell them what to do, either by a system of beeping or through intercom to colleagues at the bus company and a London Buses control centre. The first machine monitors the driving: so if they brake too sharply or accelerate to hard, or travel at too high a speed they will get beeped at. They are only allowed a certain number of beeps before they face disciplinary. This is to ensure a comfortable and safe journey for passengers – no seat belts after all.

The second machine monitors things like the headway, i.e. the gap between buses, to ensure a regular, to-time service. The bus company has to meet ‘quality of service indicators’ which include waiting times (for 213, a passenger shouldn’t wait more than 6.5 minutes).  If the company meets these targets they can earn up to 15% contract value as extra payment, or be fined up to 10% contract value if they don’t. The machine is used to calculate these timings based on scheduled points (as shown on a driver’s duty card) between 5am and 11.59pm daily, monitored with satellite navigation technology.

Some tales from behind the steering wheel…

One of the things you learn by driving all day, five days a week, is just how narrow a gap you can get your vehicle through. It’s usually wider than it looks.
There’s a certain place on the 213 bus route where the road is dead straight, and there’s a long enough interval between stops for you to work your bus up to the 30 limit. About halfway along there’s a pub, and there are always some cars parked just past it. The space between these cars and the opposite kerb is just wide enough for a bus and a car to pass each other: not a lot of spare room, but enough.
Many drivers didn’t realise this, and I used to take advantage. If I was approaching those parked cars and there was a car coming the other way I’d carry on at full speed, knowing from experience it was OK to do so, and nine times out of ten the car would stop to let me through, its driver apparently convinced that a collision was impending.
It wasn’t only car drivers who got it wrong. One day a new driver, out for the first time on the 213, was coming up to this bottleneck with a car approaching from the opposite direction. Our lad seems to have suffered a fatal bout of indecision, never a good idea when you’re driving. First he thought (correctly) he could make it, but at the last moment he got cold feet. Worse, instead of just screeching to a halt, he tried to swerve out of the way.
The first in the line of parked cars that day was a Mercedes S class, the expensive, top-of-the-range model. It’s a big car, with a long boot. When I came past not long after the incident it looked like a hatchback…

I was a 213 driver for about ten years. I liked it partly for the reason someone else told you, that there’s a toilet (and a coffee machine) at each end, and also because at both ends the bus stands away from any bus stops, so you can relax between journeys (if you have the time!) away from passengers pestering you to get on. That complete break, however short, can be quite important if you’ve been having a stressful time. Also, because the whole route is in semi-detached suburbia, you don’t normally get too much aggro, except occasionally on a Friday or Saturday night (see below).

There are some things about it that are not so good, from a bus driver’s point of view. One is the vast number of schoolchildren you pick up. I used to say to colleagues who moaned about this: ‘If you can’t stand the kids, you shouldn’t be a 213 driver.’

Another is the fact that both Sutton and Kingston have a lively night-life, so things can get a bit fraught with hordes of drunken passengers on Friday and Saturday nights. At one time we used to call the 2320 departure from Kingston ‘the scum run’ because it used to pick up so many drunks in Eden Street and Cromwell Road, after the pubs had turned out. It’s not so bad now there are so many late opening bars and clubs in Kingston to stagger the going-home times.

And of course there is the dreadful traffic in the rush hours. My personal record for the morning crawl between North Cheam crossroads and Worcester Park Station stands at about one-and-a-half hours (!). The highway planners really shot themselves in the foot when they decided a few years ago, for reasons best known to themselves, to alter the road layout so that the traffic queuing for the Worcester Park Station traffic lights in the Kingston direction is all funnelled into one lane, where there used to be two. I used to be one of the ‘nice drivers’ who’d let people off between stops in jams like this, so they could walk it. But you have to be careful. I once did it when I had a senior inspector riding as a passenger, and he gave me a right rollocking for it. The issue is that the bus company is not insured for any accidents that may happen when passengers are boarding or alighting other than at bus stops.

There were times, like driving along peacefully early on a sunny summer morning when most people were still in bed, when I’d say to myself ‘Hey, you’re being paid for this!’ And even when things were tough, the answer to the question ‘Would you rather be doing this, or would you rather go back to your last job?’ was always ‘Yes.’

I came a sort of full circle by becoming a 213 driver, because it was my local bus when I was a child. That was when it used to go past Carshalton Beeches Station and along Banstead Road South to terminate at Belmont, and was run by RF type single-deckers.

Both stories from Richard
I was a driver at Kingston and Norbiton garages from 1975 until 1990 and worked on the 213 from 1986 when crew operation finished on route 65. Unfortunately in June 1987 Norbiton became the first London bus garage to become a low cost unit where all routes were put out to tender and were won by reducing the drivers’ pensionable pay to £3.20 per hour whilst the London fleet rate was £4.17 per hour. We were also given decrepit vehicles to drive and the 39 hours week became 45 hours. Instead of the economical operation of a garage each end of the route i.e. Sutton and Norbiton, the tender trap meant all buses must come from one operator and consequently Norbiton ran empty buses to and from Sutton and West Croydon as positioning journeys whereas previously all buses ran in service. Our pay cut helped pay for this uneconomic operation.
The 213 was a pleasant route with more than adequate running time and the four different eastern terminii added to the variety. I believe it is known as the ‘Old mans road’ which usually means the senior drivers prefer it rather than some of the more hectic routes. When I worked it the duties were on a ’round robin’ rota which meant working all the routes on one rota rather than the idea of drivers being routebound.
The only quibble I had was the Belmont Station stand where having come down past the Royal Marsden Hospital the 213 had to reverse onto the stand in pitch darkness and so if the stand was busy I would go up the A217 towards Banstead and turn at the roundabout and then wait at the first bus stop on return. One night I had a Leyland National single decker and nearly slid into the bushes at the junction of Banstead Road South and Downs Road due to black ice at this high spot.
From Graham
Thank you for your great memories!
So I hope you begin to see how drivers are expected to behave as part-human, part-machine. Without them, the bus simply wouldn’t exist, but at the end of the day, they are only human. We all have bad days at work, and personally, I’d prefer a human driving my bus, with all their errors of judgement, rather than a machine driving based on statistics and probability – for one thing, who would break up the arguments (!) and who would wait for the little old lady to board?
One last thing:

In the driver’s manual for the 213 route, under ‘hazards’ it says: ‘Central Road, Worcester Park – be patient, especially during morning peaks when this stretch of road blocks up with traffic’ – that is the bloomin’ biggest understatement of the century!

For the traffic in Worcester Park alone, I commend 213 bus driver, you’ve got more patience than me!

World War 213

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.

On a hot and sticky bus…

So Spring/Summer has arrived (probably for a brief visit- after all, we are in Britain!) and the bus is smokin’, particularly in the evenings. I quite like seeing all the people dressed up for summer and the cooling breeze coming through the windows whilst sitting on the upper deck. I don’t like the sound of the air con at the back – it’s so loud! The seats as well can begin to feel a bit sticky and prickly when it’s so warm.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with my bus at the moment. I love it, because of this project and how many nice people I’m meeting and all of the stories I am gathering, but at the same time, I’m really under pressure with other work deadlines, and the length of the journey is getting me down. I’ve taken to listening to the radio off my phone – which only works on the upper deck – and that seems to pass the time quite nicely. I normally do some reading on the bus in the morning, and just sit thinking and snoozing on the bus on the way home.

On the way back tonight, I decided to start looking out for how people hail down the bus. Really fun to watch actually so I might do some more observations at a future date and create a classification system with diagrams and pointy arrows. Here are my observations:

Fairfield Bus Station: (hailing a 131) little girl clicked her fingers and jumped then clicked her fingers again

New Malden High Street: man performed abrupt thrust with hand and immediately returned hand to his side

New Malden The Fountain: man gave an (almost) longing look towards the bus – ‘please stop!’

St James’ Church: lady grasped out (as if walking in the pitch black), clutching forward

Blake’s Lane: youngish man adjusted hair, vaguely waved down the bus and then adjusted his hair again before boarding

The Plough: middle-aged gentleman straightforwardly put his arm out, palm flat and facing driver

In other news, there is a new bus stop! Thank you to Roger and Jamie for pointing out to me that between Lindsay Road and Longfellow Road, Worcester Park, there will soon be a new bus stop, ‘Brabham Court’. I clearly haven’t been observant of late! Not sure how you pronounce it so just waiting on the announcer lady to have her voice recorded to find out. My project really is about ‘living heritage’ as things are changing all the time! This new development has reiterated to me the need to find out more about the history of the physical route – I am hoping that Transport for London’s Archives may help.

A new bus stop for Worcester Park

A new bus stop for Worcester Park