#126: Coulsdon South 28/09/2021


Coulsdon South Station

The station opened in 1889, and it serves Southern Rail and Thameslink services from London to Brighton. It also declares itself the gateway to Farthing Downs and Happy Valley, two of the many public spaces nearby.

The City of London Corporation bought four commons surrounding Coulsdon in 1883 in response to public concerns at their loss due to development in the 19th century. They are Farthing Downs, Coulsdon Common, Kenley Common and Riddlesdown. 

There was a flash downpour as I alighted from the train, and there was minimal cover except for the old footbridge at the southern end of the two platforms that gave me a little shelter. However, the rain quickly abated, followed by instant sunshine, a great reminder that Autumn had arrived.

The platforms are long enough to accommodate 12 carriages, and there’s a new step-free access bridge opened recently at the platform’s northern end. The station was relatively busy when I arrived mid-morning, with most passenger traffic headed north up to Croydon and onwards to London, no doubt.

I stopped to chat with the platform guard who took an interest in my camera, and we talked a while comparing the relative merits of manual vs auto settings. We also mused over the morning’s announcement that South Eastern Railways had been stripped of its rail franchise with day to day services to be run by the Operator of Last Resort.

I hadn’t realised that Southern Rail and Thameslink are both owned by Govia Thameslink Railway. What’s more, they also run the Gatwick Express service out of Victoria, and they retained that brand name when ownership passed to them in 2015.

I mention this as the image here is a supporting wall to one of the bridges near Coulsdon South station that carries the Gatwick Express along a separate track running parallel with other services. This bridge takes the service over the old main Brighton Road before becoming the A23.

Other stations

Coulsdon South is about 0.5 kilometres from the town centre and about 0.75 kilometres from Coulsdon Town station at the north end of the town. Regular bus services connect the two stations and the town centre.

Coulsdon Town was initially named Smitham until 2011, when it was renamed as part of Southern Railway’s franchise agreement, and it sits on the Tattenham Corner line, which I’ll be visiting at a later date. There was a third station, named Stoat’s Nest and Crane Hill. It was renamed briefly to Coulsdon West for 22 days before finally becoming Coulsdon North. This station closed in 1983.

Coulsdon

The Town is now relatively quiet as traffic from the main Brighton Road is diverted along the A23 dual carriage known as Farthing Way, which opened in 2006. The road was quiet, a combination of it being early afternoon and the ‘work from home’ culture that prevails during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The street furniture caught my eye as I found this angle of the street lights against the cloudy sky attractive as they guard their realm of uninterested travellers. A scene I envisage could be something out of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – aha, that’s just me.

The town has a plethora of independent shops and shopping along the main streets is relatively free from traffic because of the by-pass. This is a peaceful suburban town with residential areas sprawling northwest up the hill towards the golf club.

The town is awash with banners promoting Coulsdon as if in some way trying to engage with its residents to take pride in its community. And although there are signs of deprivation, I found the town somewhat idyllic and very clean, with well-maintained properties. Here’s an image of a ‘Love Coulsdon’ banner as seen through the wheel of a sawn-off bicycle mounted on the wall outside the Energise E-bikes store in Lion Green Road.

There are a couple of other highlights from my walk around the town. First, the Martial Arts Centre at the bottom of Woodcote Grove Road. And second, a blue plaque erected by the Bourne Society to mark the site where the Red Lion Inn once stood. The plaque is on the side of the Aldi store. Take a look at the Bourne Society’s website if you want more information about the surrounding communities’ history and where it derives its name.

Before leaving Coulsdon, I venture up to the entrance of Farthing Down on Downs Road and then down to the Memorial Grounds en route to Old Coulsdon. Of course, there’s more to discover had I carried on into the Old Town, but why not read what ‘Hidden London’ has to say on the place. I did, however, meet Tulee, a fourteen-year-old dog and his owner who were out for a walk.

Returning home via Croydon

Today, my final leg was a bit of an indulgence as I wanted to retrace steps from my first visit to Croydon on the 7th of July 2018. It was here I had my eyes opened to the beauty of street art. Croydon is only four stops away from Coulsdon South, so the journey time wasn’t that long. 

I retraced my steps and saw some of the street art I had seen three years ago. But the beauty of street art is that it constantly changes because new artwork takes its place or the temporary location where it once was no longer exists. Visit my earlier blog for the street art story, but Croydon still had a few surprises.

What I didn’t expect to see, though, was the town full of giant inflatable monsters towering over several buildings. It seems it’s a stunt, sponsored by Croydon BID and Designs in Air, to brighten up the town and bring a smile to people’s faces. From my observation of how people reacted, it certainly did that.

Despite Croydon Council declaring itself bankrupt in 2020, the town is undergoing a transformation regenerating the centre into a destination location. The scene surrounding the Nestlé building on Park Lane is one example of how old buildings are changing. There’s something quite mesmerising about the symmetry and the sheer scale of the construction. This redevelopment is part of a much needed and ambitious 500 million pound project to convert the site into 820 flats with new routes lined with shops linking George Street, High Street and Katharine Street, and a public square on a pedestrianised street Katharine Street.

Despite Croydon Council declaring itself bankrupt in 2020, the town is undergoing a transformation regenerating the centre into a destination location. The scene surrounding the Nestlé building on Park Lane is one example of how old buildings are changing. There’s something quite mesmerising about the symmetry and the sheer scale of the construction. This redevelopment is part of a much needed and ambitious 500 million pound project to convert the site into 820 flats with new routes lined with shops linking George Street, High Street and Katharine Street, and a public square on a pedestrianised street Katharine Street.

Picture of the Day – Coulsdon Mural

You’ll find a reference to this on Google Maps as ‘Coulsdon Mural’, but I can only find one internet reference in an article by insidecroydon.com in 2019, which explains the bridge’s plight and the creation of this artwork.

This image is from inside a covered walkway that crosses the railway line near Coulsdon Town station. The footpath leads from the station to Coulsdon Wood Estate, a housing estate developed in the 1960s.

Long story short, none of those responsible for maintaining the bridge took responsibility for its upkeep. That was until Coulsdon Manor Rotary Club approached East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, and with Network Tail, they approached Coulsdon College. The bridge was subsequently decorated with 40 artwork panels by students from the College. It has undoubtedly brightened the bridge, although it remains a little dingy and tacky to walk through.

  • Location:  Coulsdon Bridge
  • Date/Time: Tuesday 28th September 2021 12:09 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 54mm; Film Speed – ISO200

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