#26: Ealing Broadway – 23/10/2018

Why a return to Ealing Broadway? In my first Ealing Broadway blog, I referenced that the station acts as a terminus for two lines: the Central and the District lines, so this concludes my travels to Ealing. Hard to credit it’s 6 months (almost to the day) from my first visit – so much fun and so many interesting things seen since then.

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The station is the same, of course, so a quick pass through, but as I do I take note of an evangelical saying written up on the Tfl update board that displays the current train status. Such boards have become popular across the network providing an opportunity for local staff to humanise the customer experience as you pass through. Today’s quote was from Robert H Schuller, a US televangelist who wrote ‘…Today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s impossibilities…’

I march out of the station careful to follow a different route from my earlier visit.

Town Centre Development

The area around the Town Hall in New Broadway has seen significant redevelopment in 20181023113225_img_3305-collage recent years, and continues to do so, but some are now close to completion. Adjacent to Christ the Saviour Parish Church stands the newly built Dickens Yard development. A mix of housing and soon to open retail opportunities on the ground floor. In the piazza between the church and this development stands an homage to George Formby in the form of a sculpture by Gordon Young celebrating words from one of his songs sung during a 1940 film produced at Ealing Studios – ‘…Make life go with a swing and a smile, Laugh at trouble and sing all the while, Now count your blessings and smile…’

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Close by is the former Fire Station, now repurposed into a smart retail outlet but sympathetically restored, and overlooking New Broadway is the imposing 19th Century Town Hall, a gothic masterpiece. A wander inside reveals intricate architecture and window displays, but alas I’m not allowed to take pictures although I was told a request to the council’s Chief Executive would get me permission – alas too late for my purpose. It turns out the Town Hall is also in line for redevelopment with one wing being turned into a boutique hotel, however there appears to be some residual opposition to this.

 

 

Across the road there’s another development branded Filmworks, which will blend historical art deco and contemporary styles into a functional and modern complex. Both this and the Dickens Yard developments have both been built by the Berkley Group under their St George brand.

I turn to head down Barnes Pikle heading for Walpole Park, but stop to consider the place name. Research suggests that Pikle is a derivation of Pightle –  a small field or enclosure usually near or surrounding a building (as a house, barn, shed)…the place name made me smile.

 

 

An Arboreal Study

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Returning into Walpole Park was my aim but the park wasn’t as busy as my first visit in April. 

Not surprisingly as although still sunny and bright, the ambient temperature was probably at least ten degrees (celsius) lower, nevertheless, lots of dog walkers, runners and mums with pushchairs about. In fact at one point there was a fitness class being taken by Jo Martin, a fitness instructor, with several new mums in tow. How do I know it was her? Well her t-shirt with her name emblazoned across it was a give away. Looking at her website, I see she specialises in pre and post natal fitness. I left all the ladies to it…

The main tree lined avenue is a pleasant walk and there is evidence of good tree management around as there are two distinct mounds of logs left around as play areas, so I took the opportunity to capture the autumnal colours and leaf fall.

 

20181023124635_IMG_3333-COLLAGEHeading for the southerly exit, I meet Ed, who is perched against a tree and is pencil sketching a tree ahead of him. We chatted for a while and I learn that as a Mancunian he had spent time in Australia, and now enjoys sketching trees and life drawings. He explains he finds a synergy between the two formats as he works to capture how the tree growth and shapes created by trunks and branches symbolise life itself. The work he shows me clearly demonstrates his passion and eye for detail.

20181023130623_img_3345-collageOut of Walpole Park and directly across the road into Lammas Park where I try my hand at more tree studies. I’m not sure the pictures I take are in themselves of particular interest but after some post production Google Photo editing, cropping and colour filtering, this might help to bring the form and colour to life. You be the judge.

 

An Autumnal Walk Through Suburbia

Out of Lammas Park, I reach Northfields; not an intended destination, but the beauty of not having a plan is in itself a plan. That is – to just follow my nose to see where I end up.

Northfields is a small collection of shop , like many in London that have sprung up over the last century or so as suburbia has sprawled out of London to meet the demands of the growing population. Housing is typically London 1930’s terraces constructed from London brick, a colour easily recognisable.

20181023135114_img_3362I follow the main road through to South Ealing, a route I could have done on the Piccadilly line, but I walk instead in the anticipation of finding some interesting distractions. The first comes in the guise of St Mary’s C of E Church north of the station. The church’s tower is the first thing I see from a distance, a somewhat imposing bell tower which no doubt helps to draw the congregation together when the bell tolls? The church has an interesting history which can be tracked from the 16th century to date, and outside, the church does much to promote this.

South of the station, I go into South Ealing Cemetery to explore, but I soon realise it’s a 21 acre site so I stop to look at a couple of headstones and feel drawn to one in particular, and to my surprise I find interred therein is a Joshua Thomas. 20181023133512_img_3359-collageNo relative (as far as I know), but it does so happen to be the name of one of my grandfathers. Because of this I take a closer interest and read the following:

  • Joshua Thomas aged 75 died 30/12/1868
  • Maria Thomas (wife) aged 87 died ??/12/1877
  • Elizabeth Jane Thomas (daughter) died 12/12/1905
  • Maria Pyne Sharp (eldest daughter) died 04/07/1906
  • William Sharp (husband) interred at Southport

Out of interest, I take note of the adjoining gravestone which records the following:

  • Marie Louise Kight aged 3 died 20/03/1870
  • Mary Louisa Maud Kight aged 3 months died 07/07/1872
  • Clara Agnes Kight aged 5 died 24/12/1874
  • John Kight (father) aged 74 died 18/03/1906
  • Louisa Kight (wife) aged 74 died 06/11/1906

Sad that the children died so young. But maybe a reflection of the squalour and disease associated with the urbanisation that accompanied the industrialisation of England at that time, and no doubt contributed to the Smallpox epidemic of 1871 along with its spread by refugees coming to England to escape the French-Prussian War. God bless the little children!..

20181023142617_img_3368I decide to end the day by heading to Acton via Acton Town station, which is only one stop on the tube and walk northerly into the heart of the town along Gunnersbury Lane. It’s a short hop, but along the way I pass the Passmore Edwards Cottage Hospital. Now a nursing and dementia care home, but originally built by John Passmore Edwards, a victorian philanthropist, reported in The Times as someone who  “… did more good in his time than almost any other of his contemporaries…”

As the light begins to fade, I stop at the The Aeronaut pub, and view Twyford School through the railings before heading for the train at Acton Central station.

 

All in all, another varied and eventful day…

 

See all Ealing Broadway Revisited pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

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For more info, look up Ealing Broadway Station on Wikipedia

 

My Route

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#25: Cheshunt – 18/10/2018

My 25th trip since starting this jaunt and one of the many things I’ve learnt since starting is not to be dismayed when there’s nothing obviously interesting as there’s always a hidden gem…and Cheshunt was no different.

Not an obvious end of the line station but Cheshunt is the end of the shuttle service from Liverpool Street, a line taken over by Tfl in 2015 and it shares its platforms with National Rail services from London to Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It’s the first I’ve encountered with a level crossing for road users too.

The station also had a part to play during the 2012 Olympics acting as one of the alighting points for the nearby White Water Centre where the canoeing, kayaking and other similar water bound sports took place.

 

 

Town or Village?

Heading east from the station towards Cheshunt I spot three pubs within the first few steps: The Windmill, The Maltsters and The Red Cow where I chat with Majella, the landlady who’s preparing for a forthcoming wake. She explains Cheshunt’s fortune has been affected by the relocation of Tesco’s HQ to Welwyn Garden City, the closure of shops and the movement of Eastern European migrants into the area. All of this has also caught the attention of Channel 4 which has expressed an interest in filming the impact of all this across the area.

 

As I  walk from the station to the heart of the town, almost a kilometre, I pass a very tidy residential area and reflect on how the residents clearly care for their community as gardens and houses look immaculate, and the streets appear spotless. I also ponder on what’s the difference between a town and a village as I would say Cheshunt falls in-between, and I explore various definitions, all of which predominantly offer population density as the main defining criteria. There are other reasons too and here’s an example.

The town centre rests on a cross roads and it’s refreshing to see mostly independent shops, though social and economic decline is evident by the sight of closed shops. The fountain in the centre of the main roundabout sadly not working seemed to symbolise this decline and I felt the town has little to offer by way of incentivising people to visit.

The entrance to the town park in Turners Hill, which is adjacent to the library, offers a glimmer of history explaining its origins, and paths from the entrance lead you to the Laura Trott Leisure Centre which has been named in honour of the girl who was brought up in the town. Now known by her married name of course – Laura Kenny, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic female competitor in any sport.

 

 

River Lee Navigation

Returning towards the station, I had earlier noticed a footpath sign to the River Lee Navigation way and onwards to the White Water Centre, so I made this my destination. On reaching the water, the straight walk of 1.5 kilometres took me along a peaceful waterway adorned with ‘lived in barges’ and canal boats.

 

Cyclists and walkers alike enjoy the towpath and I stop along the way to enjoy and capture the serene and scenic views. Most of those who I encounter are friendly and pleasant, and even the river workers, ferrying gas and coal upstream, wave and gave me a steam show to help with the pictures I’m taking.

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White Water Centre

Arriving at the White Water Centre, I didn’t know what to expect but I found the venue open to the public and it’s where I spent some time walking around and capturing the excitement of thrill seekers, and specialists practising their skills.

 

The Centre was purpose built for the 2012 Olympics and since then it has been open to the public providing two water courses for the novice, the expert and the thrill seekers enjoying team bonding sessions in an eight person raft. Access to all areas allowed me to test my long range close up skills against a constantly moving fore and background and of the 100+ shots I took, I have selected the following, for various reasons, as my favourite ones, and compiled a short video. I hope you enjoy them?

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Royal Gunpowder Mills

Returning to the Navigation towpath, I continue in a southerly direction towards Waltham Abbey/Cross and spot signs for the Royal Gunpowder Mills. No guesses what was there, but a brief historical search reveals this was one of the key locations where gunpowder was  manufactured soon after its invention in the 17th Century. Walking there to take a peek was a disappointment as I learnt it was only open by appointment, however a curious roadside plaque caught my attention. A plaque that marked the location of the Sandhurst Hospital, a purpose built hospital to serve those injured in the mills receiving swift treatment before being moved to nearby hospitals for onward care.

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I end my 9 kilometre journey at Waltham Cross station to take this somewhat weary, yet enthused traveller home. Thank you Herfordshire for your hospitality and I believe a return visit along the Lee River Navigation will be worthwhile.

 

See all Cheshunt pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Cheshunt pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Cheshunt on Wikipedia

My Route

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#24: Barking – 09/10/2018

Barking is the end of the Overground line shuttling between Barking and Gospel Oak (see my very first blog), and shares its platforms with the District line and the c2c main line services running from the Essex coast into Fenchurch Street station. So a busy station with rare moments of tranquillity, and as ever like most city stations, overlooked by high rise housing and opening onto the high street

 

 

Historic Barking and its landmarks

Without realising it I found myself walking the path once trodden by William the Conqueror soon after his 1066 conquest as he took over the Abbey to the west of Barking. Now a ruin adjacent to St Margaret’s Parish Church, I found it quite eerie thinking how so different life would have been then.

 

To the north east, there’s an elaborate sculpture in the middle of one of Barking’s ring road roundabouts, entitled The Catch by Lorraine Leeson, created in homage to Barking’s historic fishing tradition. And in the centre of town, there’s a Folly brick wall which was built, so I was advised by Roy a local resident, by the local college bricklaying apprentices from recycled bricks from the demolished swimming pool and The Lamb pub. The Lamb now sitting proudly atop the Folly.

 

 

The Town Centre

The ‘town centre’ is a remodelled piazza of faux old and new, The Town Hall having been redeveloped in recent years alongside modern high rise colourfully clad buildings. Within a few steps of the Town Hall there’s the Library, Arts Centre and Leisure Centre. And close by, the sunlit Travelodge wasn’t too difficult to miss either.

 

 

The Market and its People

Barking has two lively shopping areas adjacent to each other: the Vicarage Fields shopping centre and the open air market that runs the length of Station Parade through to North Street where there’s one particular restaurant that cleverly captures your attention – especially if you like pink friesian cows; well done to Cristina’s – The Casual Steakhouse!

 

The market has an array of colourful stalls and traders offering fruit ‘n veg; the latest ‘fashion’, household items and fresh hot food.

I begin this journey by going into the Vicarage Fields centre from the station and within minutes I thought my journey wouldn’t go any further as I spy through the window of ‘Caffe Italiano’ a couple of gents playing chess with a gathering of onlookers; so I decide to go in and introduce myself asking permission to take their photos. They are all very amenable and I’m invited to play chess against ‘the best chess player in Barking’. This was all in good fun, but he was accompanied by one of the onlookers, but little did it matter to the outcome as I explained it had been over 20 years since I last played. Thankfully though I didn’t embarrass myself completely and the sequence of shots I took set me up nicely for the rest of the day.

 

The colours around the market are vibrant, accentuated by the late autumnal sun which shows everything off in glorious technicolor. As I’m looking around, I’m drawn to an intriguing sight; on first glance it’s a body-less child with an eerie smile, almost ‘Carrie’esq’; but on second viewing it’s a child dummy’s head wearing a hat. Nevertheless it had an engaging quality I felt compelled to capture.

 

The vision of the dummies heads caught my imagination and carrying on through the market, I stopped to admire a smaller stall with dummies heads adorned with different head gear and weaves. I introduce myself to the stall holder, Lola, and we have a short yet flirtatious conversation. Lola has an infectious smile as she explains the headgear has African origins. I compliment her on the display and ask if she names the dummies? We laugh…

It was nice to meet you Lola.

 

I left Barking with one rather poignant and somewhat reflective memory, and a reminder that despite the civic’s intention to remember local citizens by naming streets after them, they can eventually fade into obscurity if the initial intention isn’t sustained. This reminder of Bobby Moore was almost hidden under the tree canopy and I felt a sense of regret that such a famous footballing hero had been relegated to a car park – come on Barking you can do better than that surely?

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Barking Riverside

The next and final part of my journey around Barking is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but dear reader I make the rules here and the first rule is that there are NO rules.

I head off to Barking Riverside (or Creekmouth). The area is and continues to undergo massive regeneration but it is overshadowed by a massive power distribution centre and its dominant pylons where Barking power station once stood , Dagenham Sunday Market and a ship container store. Nevertheless the ambition is evident with extensive new build surrounding the area. The only obvious issue is that the location is so isolated, but I guess the developers have looked beyond that, but for now, the new Riverside Bridge School stands in its own grounds with no surrounding infrastructure or amenities; and the only way for children to attend is by car or by bus (the EL1 or EL3).

The housing development at the Rivergate Centre is modern and all the houses appear to be fitted with solar panels. The surrounding reed filled creeks are well landscaped and attractive walkways between blocks make access easy, but it doesn’t mask the fact it is isolated and quiet. Speaking with some residents, they balanced the isolation factor with attractive and modern accommodation. One local trader, who lived in the tower block above their shop declared, with upturned hands aloft…’what can you do?’

 

Thank you Barking for another interesting experience full of unexpected gifts…

 

See all Barking pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Barking pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Barking on Wikipedia