#120: Hayes (Kent) – 24/06/2021

My travel blogs usually start at the end of the line and see where I take myself. But today, it’s also about getting to the end of the line.

Why the change? Well, I’m one week away from the official launch of my book (1st July 2021), and I have committed to delivering books to London residents who have pre-ordered a copy. 

Book Deliveries

So here’s a little about my journey to today’s destination: Hayes near Bromley. But first, my thanks to my friend Audrey Macnaughton, author of Up the Wall, who had bought a book for Pete in Plaistow, whose zoom quizzes she enjoyed during lockdown. To Mary in Clockhouse who had seen a review on ianVisits, and to Gareth, an old schoolmate in West Wickham. We’d not seen each other in over 45 years but had reconnected through a school zoom alumni during lockdown. Here’s Pete and Gareth receiving their books.

Pete – Plaistow
Gareth – West Wickam

My journey to Hayes was via London Bridge, and I had time to spare waiting for my connection. So a little wander along the Thames was called for, and I went through Hays Galleria, across the road from London Bridge station.

It’s the home to ‘The Navigators’ – an intricate sculpture by David Kemp. But I thought I’d take a slightly different view to showcase the height of the glazed roof. The Galleria is distinctive and always worth a stroll through. The Galleria is a former warehouse where tea was landed in the 19th Century. But now it’s a complex of office space with ground-floor retail outlets, and it’s an attractive tourist destination. 

From the embankment, you can’t miss HMS Belfast in its battle grey, which is moored less than 100 metres away. It looks as if it’s close enough to touch. You can’t of course but know what I mean!

I’ve taken this shot in black and white to emphasise the two-tone paintwork and to help highlight the Plimsoll Line markings. The white splash looks a little like a shark with the Plimsoll markings representing its mouth. And the ‘X’ is created by the ship’s anchor chains which keep this ship in its permanent moorings.

Finally, before boarding my train, I’ve seen this building on the north bank of the river on Lower Thames Street many times without giving it much thought. Its distinctive stepped outline gives it a feel that it could be a giant’s staircase.

It is, in fact, the Northern & Shell building. Once the owners of Channel 5, Express newspapers, Penthouse, OK magazines and other titles. It is now predominantly a property development company and owner of Healthcare Lotteries.

Hayes (Kent) Station

The station is often referred to as Hayes (Kent) to avoid any confusion with Hayes & Harlington in the west, and it’s the terminus for Southeastern services from Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations. 

The station opened in 1882 as part of the line extension from Elmers End and was modernised in 1933 with the addition of shops outside the station. Following its bombing in 1940, repair work was finally carried out in 1956.

The station was used in the 1960s as a pass-through for greyhound dogs transported from Catford to training kennels in Ireland.

The station is typical for today with functional needs in mind, with covered seating and cycle racks. During the daytime, the station was very quiet and underused, and in 2004 the local community thwarted a proposal to withdraw some services. It seems, though, the station is busier first thing in the morning and later in the day to accommodate school children and commuters. 

Hayes Village

Hayes is recorded from 1177 as ‘hoese’ from the Anglo-Saxon, meaning “a settlement in open land overgrown with shrubs and rough bushes’.

In my social media posts, I described Hayes as a sleepy hollow with properties suited for your average London stockbroker. I thought this may have been a bit harsh, but when I read internet articles from several local communities, I didn’t feel so bad as a similar view is held by others too.

And as I walk around this quiet suburban area, there are only a few locals enjoying the shade from the afternoon sun under the curved parade that casts a shadow over the local coffee shops.

The Station Approach shopping area is what you see as you exit the station, which also houses a rather magnificent centrepiece clock. Erected to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it stands outside the station. It’s certainly eye-catching.

I head north to the corner of Pickhurst Lane & Courtlands Avenue, where the United Reformed Church has a vantage point overlooking the area. I’ll always look out for the local churches, not for religious reasons, but their architectural qualities.

This image is of its side entrance, and I appreciate its simple beauty, which I’ve enhanced slightly with this black and white composition.

I didn’t venture as far as old Hayes along Hayes Street to the northeast of the station. Maybe that’s for another day. However, I did head over to Hayes Common at its most northern point on Warren Road and stroll through this leafy park/forest land.

There’s an elderly couple enjoying the summer’s afternoon on a park bench, but alas, it’s not so quiet as the local school girls have decided to hold their end of exams/term drinking and smoking fest here. They were pleasant enough, but I can imagine the volume of the music and their chatter would have grown later in the day. 

Here come the local schoolboys to join the party. It seems it’s an invitation-only party, so I leave them to it.

The following sites will be interesting for more local history and information: Hayes (Kent) Village Association, Bromley Borough Local History Society and Hidden London.

Picture of the Day –  ‘Hello!’ Greg Foreman

Greg is the landlord and owner of The Real AleWay, a delightful micropub catering for local Kentish ales. The pub is right across the road from the station, and it was the venue of choice to catch up with Gareth, my former school friend, from days gone by.

Greg is a friendly, enthusiastic and amiable gent keen to promote his ales and offers free tasters when you express interest. I chose the Traditional Ale at only 3.6% ABV and felt quite mellow after a couple. Thankfully my next stop was 40 minutes away, so a kip on the train home may be called for. Thanks for the hospitality, Greg.

There’s an interesting fact that Greg failed to mention. He is an actor who has a film and many TV appearances to his credit. Check his filmography here.

  • Location: The Real Ale Way, Station Approach, Hayes
  • Date/Time: Thursday 24th June 2021 1:28 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 39mm; Film Speed – ISO5000

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