#28: Amersham – 09/11/2018

Amersham sits as a terminus on the North Western end of the Metropolitan line, very much in the fold of Buckinghamshire, and shares its station with Chiltern Railways with services running through to the West Midlands. I’d not been to Amersham before so I had little expectations, although I have vague childhood recollections of visiting family in nearby Little Chalfont many many years ago.

I also had an ulterior motive for visiting the town as I had arranged to meet Darren, a former work colleague who lives nearby, so plans to meet in one of the local hostelries seemed appropriate.

As the journey along the Metropolitan line passes en route through Wembley, Harrow and Pinner, the surrounding landscape quickly changes from urban to suburban and the Wembley Stadium arch soon fades into the distance, and as I arrive in Amersham, it’s very much a rural setting. Some prior preparation helped me to understand that Amersham is a town of two parts but what I hadn’t appreciated was that they are separated by a significant hill…just as well it stayed dry.

 

Amersham-on-the-hill

20181109111017_img_3506On exiting the station, I arrive at the new town which grew in response to the arrival of the station late in the 19th Century. The town has a rectangular shape with shops dominating two and a half sides, and the purpose built civic amenities dominating a larger part of the remainder.

 

20181109112039_img_3507My route was up Station Road, along Chesham Road and into Woodside Road as far as St John’s Methodist Church. Across the road is the Amersham branch of the Royal British Legion where I chat with Danny, a young gentleman who’s tidying up the grass verge and poppy display outside the Legion Hall in preparation for Armistice Day on Sunday. He explained his father, who is a committee member is out and about in the town selling poppies.

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I return along the same route heading for the Old Town, and later on returning to the new town I make my way to the civic centre where I find the council offices, library, police station, law courts and Leisure Centre. However from both my tours around the town, I find little of architectural interest. Don’t get me wrong, this is a busy town with a blended mix of independent shops, charity shops, high street names and coffee/eateries, but I felt it was a little bland with only modest features: I expected more from the Old Town though.

 

 

Amersham Old Town

20181109120339_img_3537Heading for the old Town, there are two main roads; I choose Rectory Hill, a minor B Road with no footpath, so I tread carefully with Parsonage Wood to my left, which I later glean has several paths running through it so my passage to the Old Town could have been different. Nevertheless I still enjoy the splendour of the autumnal colours on display.

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As I descend the hill, the old worldly charm and quaintness of this Old Market Town can be seen through the rooftops and my expectations aren’t disappointed as I browse through Rectory Lane and Church Street, poking my nose into some sympathetically redeveloped buildings at the former Weller’s Brewery (now Badminton Court) and Flint Barn Court (both now offices) and stroll around the grounds of St Mary’s Church.

 

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Into the High Street, and I couldn’t miss the Old Market Hall which dominates the town centre with its Doomsday Book references helping to highlight the town’s age. Close by is the Museum but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go in and enjoy their displays, but I’m drawn to explore The Broadway, Whielden Street, The Platt, and in the west as far as Mill Lane. The town is full of character with several coaching houses having survived as fashionable hotels, and other coach buildings having been converted into private dwelling but still keeping the coaching house characteristics.

 

My admiration is temporarily interrupted with a lunch interlude at the Elephant & Castle where I meet Darren for a bite to eat and of course an opportunity to sample the local ale. We discuss many things, but most importantly where and when to meet up next for a Christmas drink. With arrangements made, we say farewell and I continue with my Old Amersham tour before returning to the station via the appropriately named, but steep, Station Road.

 

 

Amersham in bloom and the Memorial Garden

20181109113636_img_3519Since 2009 (and probably before then), the Amersham community throughout has prided itself in creating interesting floral displays. So much so that their entries in Britain’s nationwide gardening competition, Britain in Bloom, has seen them achieve annual accolades from Regional Town Winner, to Silver Gilt recipients and in 2009 and since 2014, they’ve been the recipients of a Gold Award within the Thames and Chilterns Region. 20181109113419_img_3517

 

Flower tubs and roundabouts awash with various displays and colours and the impressive Memorial Garden in Old Amersham is a  ‘must see’ floral exhibitions. Have a look at the stunning video on their Facebook Page which captures the WW1 Commemoration display.

Some of my pictures which follow try to capture the essence, the effort and the creativity of all the volunteers involved in these creations.

Thank you Amersham for a snapshot into your community…

 

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Amersham pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Amersham on Wikipedia

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#27: Cockfosters – 02/11/2018

Cockfosters is where London becomes suburbia and trips into the countryside along the A111 out of Palmer’s Green en route to Potters Bar. I’d passed through Cockfosters before, by accident, on a mission to pick up my daughter who was destined for Hadley Wood, but owing to various delays she changed route. The two stations aren’t too far from each other, so an easy detour to make. Today was a chance to have a good look around.

The station is typical of the iconic architectural style of the early 1930’s; a style that oozes art deco and modernists tastes, and a style that adorns many a tube station owing to the underground’s expansion between the wars as London grew and stretched its boundaries.

 

20181102135917_img_3408Cockfosters sits within the London Borough of Enfield, and it is predominantly characterised by a sprawling parade of shops, a common London sight, full of independent shops on the ground floor of low rise arcade style flats. An affluent and clean area with off road parking for shoppers, and some high rise office blocks near the station, built no doubt to attract businesses out of London taking advantage of the easy train access.

 

North London’s dead

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Turning right out of the station, I go into Trent Park Cemetery. Not that I have a morbid fascination, but recent personal circumstances had me in a contemplative and reflective mood. The cemetery presents a curious celebration of life with small isolated markers spread over two fields where memories are placed. No gravestones, and I don’t think they were burial plots either as there was evidence that memories were transient. Some spiritual reminders of those departed can also be seen in the avenue of trees that delineate the fields.

Over the road, I stroll through the graveyard of Christ Church, an evangelical church with a more traditional graveyard and one dominated by a single vault within which were interred the remains of the Bevan family in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I suspect they were significant benefactors of the church – a quick search reveals the church was founded by a Robert Cooper Lee Bevan, a founder of Barclays Bank.

 

 

London Footpaths

Did you know you could walk around the outskirts of London on a 150 mile trail divided 20181102133545_img_3396into 24  sections? Neither did I until I stumble across the London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) managed by Transport for London as part of their ‘Walk London’ initiative.

And how about the Pymmes Brook Trail? One of London’s many long forgotten water courses which 20181102133840_img_3401springs up in nearby Hadley and runs through to the river Lee.

I spot both signs by Christ Church; a stone’s throw from the station.

 

 

Croeso i rhan fach o Gymru

‘Welcome to a small part of Wales’…Ever had that serendipity moment? A slight diversion…that’s a word I first came across whilst watching Dr Who many many years ago and it’s just sort of stayed with me. Anyway, back to the plot…

I glance down Freston Gardens and see a large imposing religious building that is sort of ‘calling me’. One of the many lessons I have learnt from this journey is ‘…to just go see…’ as if I don’t I’ll only regret it later. As I pass the detached houses along the way, there is clear evidence of the post-Halloween apocalyptic mess in gardens and shrubbery in the guise of a dismembered hand and spray cobwebs in different colours.

20181102141347_img_3413And as I approach the building, I smile and understand ‘the calling’, as I discover the Welsh Chapel of Eglwys Y Drindod. Why? Well as I was brought up as a Welsh Independent chapel goer – Capel Annibynwyr Seion yn Aberystwyth, the memories of chapel service and Sunday School were somewhat etched and surfaced in that smile.

A striking brickwork designed building, but alas I couldn’t go in , but nevertheless I let the moment and memories linger a while before saying farewell…

 

 

Chase Side

By now I’ve decided to stretch my legs as far as Southgate, and approaching the roundabout as Cockfosters Road turns into Chase Side, I spot a road sign for Chickenshed, the all inclusive theatre company. Chickenshed’s success has been well documented through London life in recent years and I was intrigued to look around. From its early beginnings, the theatre company and buildings have grown significantly to that of a multi-purpose, and all inclusive entertainment and learning centre.

 

A quick scout inside to check I can take pictures and I chat with several folk. Bill, the Deputy manager explains the theatre is purely self financed as it does not meet the Arts Council’s funding criteria, so there’s a heavy reliance on box office takings, donations and gala evenings. However, despite the constant financial challenges, they continue to expand their portfolio of performances, education and outreach events, and they will soon be performing ‘A Christmas Carol’ over the festive season. I share a moment on how I felt signing added to the value of a theatre production having recently enjoyed how a signer was seamlessly integrated at a local production of Once.

20181102145406_img_3431Adjacent in Bramley Sports Ground, is the home of Saracens Amateur Rugby Football Club, and I stroll around inside the park. The club is part of the wider Saracens brand, who now play Premiership rugby at the shared ground with Watford Football Club, but the ground here is nevertheless the historical home of the club. As with all sports, sponsorship is key, and Saracens ARFC is no different, in league with a housing development across the road from their ground.

 

Southgate

Here is where I stayed when I first moved to London in 1989. Living in digs along Chase Side before finding a house and moving the family,  and I had some romantic notion I’d be able to find the place. But a combination of faded memories and redevelopment for an Asda superstore meant that the house hadn’t survived. Ah…

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Southgate is similar to Cockfosters, but larger, and its iconic underground station set against an azure blue sky made for a striking moment.

 

 

 

A study in wood

20181102154727_img_3442My final route is through Grovelands Park which is 20181102155101_img_3446nestled between Southgate and Winchmore Hill, the station there being my journey’s end for the day. The park offers open land, an ornamental lake and a wooded walk alongside a stream, all of which was attractively captured by the low sunlight on a cool autumnal afternoon. I take the opportunity to try my hand at some creative shots, and to my surprise in the wooded area, I come across a menagerie of carved creatures that captured my attention for a little while.

 

I hope you enjoy my efforts?

 

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Cockfosters pics on Instagram

For more info, look up Cockfosters on Wikipedia

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