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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Night Bus Home

Last night was my first experience of the N87 from Charing Cross back to Kingston, then the 213 from Kingston home to little Worcester Park, in the small hours of a Sunday morning.

The N87 was absolutely packed when we first boarded around 1.30am outside Charing Cross Station. Everything was going smoothly, I really liked watching the crowds pass down below, the sparkling lights and tall buildings, the width of the gushing river as we crossed Vauxhall Bridge. And then somebody threw up at the back of the bus. Luckily, I’m not too bad with sick but the smell wasn’t very pleasant and I did wonder what the driver was meant to do (if anything) about it. In the end, the bus didn’t stop and we acclimatised to acrid stench quite quickly (!).

The Route from Aldwych to Kingston

The Route from Aldwych to Kingston

I saw a few interesting things on the route, like the New Covent Garden Market which is in Battersea – I think this is such a shining indictment of London really, as the the real messy business of food and flower growing and trading is relegated from the centre to be replaced by swish but mostly uninteresting restaurants and stalls. Markets selling fresh meat, veg and flowers should be where the people are.

Most of  the route through surburbia is a blur really, but I remember passing Lavender Hill Library, South Thames College, Wimbledon Station. By this point we were playing leap frog with another N87 and I was going on about service regulation. We passed Raynes Park station and were then in familiar territory of Shannon Corner and through New Malden to Kingston (the grounds of Kingstonian FC in Norbiton being pointed out to me on the way).

I decided to stay on to Kingston as didn’t fancy waiting at the Fountain all alone with not so many people passing by. This proved a bit fatal in the end as the 2.35am 213 from Fairfield didn’t show up which meant waiting for 50 minutes. Not impressed, and I told the nice giggly TfL lady to write it up in her report. If I’d got off at the Fountain there is a chance I could’ve caught the 2.05am from there. In the end, I got the 3.05am running perfectly to time and experienced my first 213 night journey along with a bus full of drunken ladies and gentlemen some of whom had been fighting each other at Cromwell Road. The trip was very straightforward and I enjoyed watching the bloke sitting opposite fall asleep and wake up in panic that he’d missed his stop (in fact – he didn’t get off until Longfellow Road so was fine in the end). Disembarking at Lindsay Road, I ran home as the dawn chorus was just warming up.

N87 bus sign

 

Night Bus Home – ratings

N87: 7/10 due to sick, and not regulating the service effectively

213: 4/10 due to the 2.35am not showing up

 

 

2014: The Year of the Bus

Did you know that 2014 is the Year of the Bus?

Year of the Bus

The London Transport Museum and Transport for London are working together this year to promote London’s bus network and ‘remind the world of the incredible role it plays in this great city’ (TfL). They’ve painted one of Boris’s Buses silver for the occasion and are running a variety of events throughout the year including talks, garage open days, exhibitions and more. Most exciting (probably) is the logo which features on a pin badge issued to all London Bus drivers and a special edition Oyster card. I also really enjoyed these videos about people’s personal experiences of buses, produced for the project on TfL’s website. You can submit your own reasons for loving your bus by emailing: LoveYourBus@tfl.gov.uk.

Why buses? Why 2014?

  • 60 years since iconic Routemaster ‘RM’ first introduced
  • 75 years since Regent Three ‘RT’ first introduced
  • 100 years since innovative ‘B’ type buses were used at the Front during the First World War

What TfL think about buses:

Our buses are the arteries of the capital, moving large numbers of people around the city – across the centre and to the extremities. They have affected great social change and continue to offer a lifeline to a diverse range of Londoners. Buses also support the needs of our growing city and in turn help London to function as the engine room of the UK’s economy

Meanwhile, the London Transport Museum wants to explore 3 themes: Heritage (as per the anniversaries above), People (everyone involved in delivery the bus service in London) and Economy and Innovation ( the economic contribution of buses). Their website lists some interesting ‘bus facts’, my favourite fact being that 96% of London households are within a 400m / 5 minute walk of their local bus service. At the centre of their celebrations will be the restoration of a B-Type bus in khaki livery to commemorate the First World War Centenary. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Friends of London Transport Museum, the project ‘Battle Bus’ will deliver the restored vehicle for use in various events later in the year.

London Transport Museum

Today I went to the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden. I’ve been in touch with their curatorial team already and hope to search their database once I can get some time to visit the library. Before that, I wanted to dedicate a few hours to looking around the museum itself, and there is certainly a lot to see!

My first experience of the LTM was nearly 2 months ago when I found myself with an hour spare in town and went to see the  ‘Poster Art 150’ exhibition. This is a great collection of posters advertising the Underground from way back in the late 19th century to present day. There are some beautiful designs and the graphic style varies greatly even when keeping distinctive elements such as the ‘Underground’ lettering and symbol, so everyone should find a few to be particular favourites.

The admission charge for the Museum is quite steep at £15 but the great thing for Londoners (and repeat visitors to London) is that the ticket allows entry for a year. So I rocked up today and went straight in. My major piece of advice is follow the chronological sequence laid out for you, the museum displays make a lot more sense this way! I’m not sure if there is an adults’ map for the museum, but I was using ‘The Stamper Trail’ to do so and it was fun punching holes in cardboard like a Clippie (Female bus conductor).

The permanent displays begin at the top floor. These detail the initial development of the railways, the decline of water travel, and the development in the 19th century of horse drawn buses and trams. There are three vehicles on this level: an omnibus (horse drawn, single deck bus), a horse bus (double deck, upper level exposed), and a horse drawn tram. Bus travel in the early days was pretty expensive, and not in high demand as most of London’s population lived within walking distance of work. However, ‘Omnibus’ is Latin for ‘for all’ and this development in transport really was the beginning of what is now a very impressive public service – the London Transport Network.

The major restriction on bus development was that is relied upon horse power. Increased bus use led directly to demand for horses, leading also to the need for horse feed, which was finite. By the mid 19th century, Parisian bus companies had merged to reduce prices, London followed and by late 1856 the ‘London General Omnibus Company’ (LGOC) had acquired 75% of London’s buses, becoming the largest bus company in the world.

The middle level is about the early Underground and the railway network, with full scale locomotives and carriages to sit in. There are also drawers with ephemera such as tickets, leaflets and postcards which are fascinating. It details the basically uncontrolled development of the suburbs in the 1920s which was part driven by, part facilitated by the rise in public transport, and only ceased by the Second World War. This is also the floor where you start the Posters exhibition, and the library and an interactive zone are also located here.

My favourite objects were the unfurled bus ‘blinds’, the things buses use to display where they are going to. I hope to reconstruct one for the 213, or ask Sutton Bus Garage whether they can show me what destinations it should have (It needs Kingston, Sutton Bus Garage, North Cheam, New Malden The Fountain, Norbiton, the one it uses when it terminates next to Coombe Girls ??, and ??? you tell me!).

The ground floor is vast, illustrating the development of the Underground to the present day, and the change in bus design over the 20th century. There are lots of historic bus types, but the main builder was the AEC (Associated Equipment Company). London Transport began existence in 1933, and at that time inherited 6,000 buses and coaches from LGOC (above) which had been operating 95% of London bus routes. There is an RT type bus, a Routemaster and a number of earlier types too to which vistiors have limited on board access.

Some bus-y facts for you: on average, one bus can transport 95 passengers (imagine the lack of traffic if people didn’t use cars!), the bus is the most used form of transport in London, there are 6 million passenger journeys a day on over 700 bus routes, and the London bus network is the greenest in the UK.

First World War bus use: buses were used to transport troops to and from the battlefield. They originally retained their livery and signage but were later painted khaki green. Some buses were rebuilt as lorries, ambulances and mobile carrier pigeon lofts due to the massive shortage of function vehicles.

Second World War buses: still no women drivers (indeed none until 1974 equality legislation), the key bus travel accessories were gas masks, and something white to be seen in the black outs when waiting at your stop. Transport was in high demand during the war and apparently services were very overcrowded.  Windows were fitted with anti-blast netting, blacked out and vehicle lights dimmed or shaded at night.

My bathroom break was delightfully accompanied by wallpaper based on 1940’s moquette from an RT-type bus. I am currently making a cardboard person-sized RT which were used on the 213 route from 1963 to 1972. The easiest way I’ve found to tell RTs from Routemasters it to look at the radiator grills on the front, the former are taller and thinner, the later squatter and wider. My boyfriend is now convinced I have become an anorak, and to be honest, I probably am.