Journey’s End

#36: New Addington – 10/01/2019

The last of my TramLink destination journeys, this time to New Addington, South East of Croydon. The tram station, like most others is an open air affair with no distinguishing features or anything to report as unique. This is in part largely due to the TramLink’s construction in the later part of the 20th Century and designed and built in such a way to improve accessibility and keep costs down.

Today is a cold and overcast day, and the depressing weather conditions does nothing to enhance what seems to be a depressing area. I know first impressions are hard to dispel, but after wandering around for some time, my impression changes little.

For those who know my home town, you will be able to picture this area if I liken it to Penparcau but on a much larger scale. Both are areas of social housing specifically built in the mid-1900’s to cater for a growing population and the Wikipedia entry for New Addington is worth a read as it eloquently describes the area, it’s history and its social challenges. My comparison with Penparcau I believe is now no longer valid though as the two communities seem to have matured in different ways; maybe their relative sizes had something to do with that, but I leave that to other social commentators to debate.

Getting off at the tram stop at the northern end of Central Parade looking south I see the main low level shopping parade to my left with evidence of regeneration to my right. The dividing avenue is tree lined which in Spring I’m sure would look attractive with the trees in foliage. Immediately to my right is a collection of four wood sculptures of a bear, gorilla, dolphin and an eagle. There’s nothing around to explain their origins and other online commentators are also unable to find any helpful references.

Planned Regeneration

At the end of Central Parade is the library within which there’s a display of the planned regeneration of the area, and outside there’s a rather tired looking mosaic created by the local high school some time ago. The mosaic has been designed to reflect local scenes and characters, but like the surrounding area, it is somewhat scarred with damage that has remained un-repaired for some time.

Towards the centre of the parade there’s a memorial stone to those who died and were affected by the nearby Tram crash in November 2016. My observation here, as with other memorials I see around and about is ‘what’s the right length of time to leave flowers besides a memorial?’ This picture sadly depicts what ‘too long’ looks like.

Some regeneration work is well underway with the erection of a new leisure centre and in conjunction with the construction company, Wilmott Dixon, Croydon Council have partnered to set up a training academy for any local residents wishing to work in the construction industry; although  there is no evidence of anyone working in the academy at the time of my visit.

Heroes Walk – ‘a celebration of New Addington’

This is a local description of a walkway created between the current leisure centre and the new building encased with hoarding as either side is a building site. The full length of the hoarding is adorned on both sides of the walkway with black and white photographs of local residents who have been selected as having gone ‘the extra mile’ and provides a brief glimpse into the community spirit created by this art installation. The linked newsletter explains who they are and what they have achieved – well done to them!

Two miles, as the crow flies south from the library is Biggin Hill Airport, and I can hear the occasional plane taking off/landing. I’m tempted to head over, but the local bus service timetable makes that a slow journey. Equally, although within walking distance (about 3 miles by road), the daylight isn’t at its best and with the short wintry days I reckon it will be dark before I need to return home.

Addington Village

I decide, instead, to head north as I noticed on my tram journey to New Addington a stop named Addington Village. A mile and a half later, after passing housing estate after housing estate, and off the main road, I come to a very picturesque, albeit a very small village.

The village is dominated by the 11th Century flint encrusted Anglican church: St Mary the Blessed Virgin. Walking carefully over the gravestones outside the church, my thoughts turn to those I have known who are no longer with us. I’m particularly affected by a gravestone for a very young child which seems to have been placed discreetly in a corner and slightly obscured. Out of respect, I decide not to take any photographs other than of the once Archbishop of Canterbury, John Bird Sumner’s rather ornate memorial.

The church is open so I head inside and I’m in awe of the high vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows and altar, and I read about a War Hospital in the nearby Addington Park during World War 1 as part of the church’s history display.

Adjacent to the church is an appropriately named ‘Flint Cottage’ and just down the road is the ‘The Old Forge’ which is claimed to be the ‘last surviving working forge in the area’

Best Picture

This one of the altar inside St Mary the Blessed Virgin church I find quite striking. The intensity created by a flash free shot (as different to the one above) adds a contrasting dimension to really showcase the colour and detail of the three 11th century stained glass windows. Tell me what you think…

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

See the sidebar for a sample of New Addington pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup New Addington on Wikipedia

#35: High Street Kensington – 03/01/2019

OK. So I’m not sure if this should be included but I’m here now so I’ll get on with it. The reason for including is that the station serves as the end of the District Line shuttle service to Olympia (Kensington). The doubt I have is I haven’t included any other similar destinations on other lines where the scheduled service ends before the geographic end, for example West Croydon on the TramLink? A debating point maybe once I’ve completed this particular series. For now though I give you High Street Kensington…

The Station

Fairly typical of the period when stations were built out of traditional London brick with facades now influenced and somewhat defined by their modern towering neighbours, High Street Ken as it’s popularly known is no different.

As I explore the station platforms, I come across one of Mark Wallinger’s ‘Labyrinth’ artworks. You’ve all seen them in passing as you scurry through your stations, and you may have thought as I did, ‘how curious’ without a second thought. Today I stop to admire and ponder at its purpose and realise this is a unique piece of work given away by the numbering. This is number 237 out of 270…270 being the magical number of underground stations.

Follow this link to learn more about the artists and this art installation across the underground and then muse with understanding when you see the next one and realise its own uniqueness.

The main entrance, which opens onto the high street, is awash with travellers, mostly looking to see the sights and I spotted this group of girls hogging the central walkway taking a selfie.

High Street

Fashionable high street names and couture independent shops adorn The HIgh Street which is dominated by the once towering Barker’s department store. What remains is a classical Art Deco style building that you can’t but be impressed by. The real beauty of the area though is only a short stroll away across the road as I begin to explore the back streets and mews in the immediate vicinity.

First I stroll through the cloisters of St Mary Abbot Parish Church which is still bedecked in Christmas lights. I stop to read several of the memorial plaques that adorn its walls and porch, and wonder what a lonely worshipper is thinking as he makes his way through the cloisters.

And then into Kensington Church Walk and admire the bijou shops all with their independent stamp and marketplace. I’m particularly drawn to Hermione Harbutt, a bespoke wedding accessory designer, and just up the road, a gentleman’s clothier – Hornets.

Heading back towards the High Street, and westerly following the main road towards Holland Park I reach its entrance which is protected from traffic by some very ornate gates. The history of the park can be read if you follow the link, and I reflect on a visit I made to the park several years earlier when I decided to walk from Earl’s Court to Notting Hill via the park. My recollection of that steamy hot day was of a very steep incline as I trudged my way past the fields and the adjoining school.  

the Design Museum

the Design Museum is at the mouth of Holland Park and I feel my visit today is worthy of particular mention as my interest in design has been piqued since my recent (and last) employment with the Government Digital Service (GDS). One of its cornerstones of enabling transformation is that of understanding the User Needs and creatively designing services that are functional and so so easy to use that people choose to use them. My exposure to creative designers during this time, in particular Ben Terrett, has enriched my experiences and enabled me to look at shapes and patterns with different meaning.

What is ‘good’ design? In the 20th century the Modernists believed that good design was about usefullness.

Museums are a living exhibition encouraging, provoking and challenging you to think about what you see, and if you are repeat visitors, you know you do so in expectation of seeing something new and/or different each time. The Design Museum is no different and I am impressed by its hands-on approach to many of its exhibitions. Two items in particular catch my eye. The tower of numbers which is a 3D printer creation, and a construction hoarding for an Apple store in Taipei created using traditional Chinese paper-cutting techniques.

English Heritage Blue Plaques

Walking around the area I begin to think that those living here must feel rather inferior if they don’t have a blue plaque on their property as it seems almost every other property has one. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but there is a higher proportion of plaques on properties here than other places I’ve visited. There are many links to sites with maps of all the blue plaques of London, but most are out of date as the number of plaques continues to grow. I’d suggest a visit to the English Heritage website for the latest update or download their app.

There was one plaque that caught my eye: that of Ka Mpande Cetshwayo, King of the Zulus, which seemed out of place, but clearly has its place under the ‘overseas visitor’ category. I found this plaque in Melbury Road in a neighbourhood adjacent to Leighton House, the former home, and now museum, of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896).

Addendum – Jimmy Page vs Robbie Williams.

I took a picture of The Tower House in Mebury Road but decided to exclude it. I hadn’t realised the significance of the building: it turns out it’s now owned by Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin guitarist. Not only that, he’s also having a spat with Robbie Williams (of Take That fame) about Robbie’s plans to build a swimming pool in an adjacent property. See this BBC news report for details. I was particularly drawn to the shape of the house and the corner gargoyle.

Best Picture

For reasons I’ve outlined above under ‘the Design Museum’, I’m including this photo as my best picture as a personal reminder of my time in GDS. But I also like the picture for what it portrays and the bright colour scheme I’ve captured. The picture tells several stories:

  • that of my personal recollection;
  • on the first level it depicts a portfolio of buildings influenced by different design principles;
  • on the second level a changing mural (the picture snapped it at ‘USER’) leading into a hands-on exhibition; and
  • the top tier showcasing the exposed vaulted roof space now somewhat hidden by an unexplained canopy. I spoke with one of the guide volunteers who was also a little perturbed by the installation of the canopy as he could not see how it aesthetically enhanced the visitor experience…

I hope you enjoy?

See all High Street Kensington pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of High Street Kensington pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup High Street Kensington Station on Wikipedia

#34: Stratford (DLR) – 28/12/2018

This is the second of four visits to Stratford, although the first was to Stratford International so a little bit of ‘fake news’ but I’m mentioning it as I partly covered the Olympic Park and the shopping centre during my earlier visit.

The Jubilee, Overground and DLR lines all terminate at Stratford and today’s visit is in homage to the DLR station. Given that I’ve other visits to make, I’ve decided to explore the Stratford area by compass points so you won’t get the whole view of the area until I’ve completed all visits; I went to the West and South West of Stratford today. The Jubilee line visit will focus on the South, and the Overground visit on the East. I hope that makes sense?

The station and the immediate surrounds

As a commuter of nearly 30 years into London, passing through Stratford was a twice daily occurrence and changes, albeit subtle, would suddenly spring to life as I became conscious of them. However there was no greater change than the awarding, in 2005, of the London Olympics in 2012. This had a monumental impact on the station and the town, and through the regeneration of wasteland running through the Lee Valley by the creation of a new shopping complex which opened ahead of the Olympic Park.

The station grew to accommodate new and more frequent trains, a new bus station and of course the creation of Stratford City (Westfield) shopping centre. I am no shopaholic and the occasional jaunt into the centre fills me with acute antipathy as the experience of visiting offers nothing other than a genetically modified version of every other shopping centre and major high street where the multinationals have taken over. Sadly there’s no room for the independent shops any more. It seems though I’m in the minority as thousands still flock there…

Getting here today has not been straightforward. As is often the case over holiday periods, National Rail undertake engineering works when the demand for services is less, and 2018 is no different resulting in my taking three different services to travel what is normally a 22 minute journey. Today it is: train from Gidea Park to Romford; Bus replacement from Romford to Newbury Park; and Central Line from Newbury Park to Stratford. In recent years this has become an oft travelled route so I knew what to expect.

The Olympic legacy

The Olympic Park is well worth visiting as it is place to enjoy the relative peace of a country park with focal points in all corners. The cleaned up River Lee with returning wildlife, the Olympic Stadium now rented to West Ham Football Club and the recently built Bobby Moore Academy are the immediate companions to the west of the shopping centre.

I stop to look further afield and spot an old work reminder to the north silhouetted against the darkening skyline. Here East is a modern and attractive office and retail complex that once housed the Media Centre during the Olympics. For me, it was a prospective location where the organisation I worked for was being encouraged to move and it was my responsibility to set out the business case for a counter proposal. We successfully moved to Aldgate in the end, but I still smile whenever I see the Here East sign.

Wintry Skylines

The skyline as I pass through the park is striking, and only one week on after the Winter Solstice the sun is still low and the sky a deep azure blue set off against the striking and at times threatening cloud formations. I feel compelled to try my hand at aerial photography of a different kind, and I’m pleased with the outcome

Pudding Mill Lane

Skirting the Olympic Stadium, I come across the View Tube, originally built as a viewing area for visitors to wonder at the building works during the park’s construction, but now a ‘community venue with a difference’ hosting a cafe, garden, a studio and a place for bikes and boasts it is open 7 days a week. Alas not when I visited though…

Under the railway bridge (and see my ‘Best Picture’ later), I come to Pudding Mill station. This is the first stop on the DLR out of Stratford heading to Canary Wharf and it’s been a stop I’ve strangely wanted to visit for no reason other than for its name. In recent years, the station has been relocated slightly to the south of its original position as preparatory engineering works for the forthcoming Elizabeth Line tunnel had to be accommodated as it starts it’s underground journey westwards from here.

Whilst roaming the high rise platform and looking west, I muse at the efforts in the distance of many high vis dressed work people congregated on the railway lines…so this is what ‘engineering works’ really looks like?! I pose for you, dear reader, a question purely for your entertainment – can you work out how many people there are working? Why not drop a reply to this blog if you think you know…

Industrial Wasteland

The area south of Pudding Mill Lane is an industrial wasteland still, with some cleared ground serving as a car park for those driving to watch West Ham play – a stone’s throw to the stadium.

Some partly demolished buildings overlooked by high rise accommodation and a surprising parade of houses at City Mill Lock at the confluence of Bow Back, City Mill and Waterworks Rivers. The adjacent houses curiously seem out of character with their surrounds, and the weed filled canal; and the towpath heading back towards Stratford is abandoned and blocked off by fencing.

The Greenway

From City Mill Lock I cross the main A118 High Street and discover Abbey Lane Open Space and the Greenway route, a combined footpath and cycleway and I nearly fall foul of those wishing to pass at speed as they give little notice of their presence. ‘Darn cyclists…!’

In the distance towards West Ham I spot a towered building and resolve to explore but as the day is waning, I decide this will be a journey point on another day when I explore the southern reaches of Stratford.

High Street

Returning to the High Street, and now almost at journey’s end, there’s a stark reminder of what housing regeneration looks like as I pass a cacophony of high rise living accommodation interspersed with traditional buildings. Architecturally attractive on their own, but when viewed so close together it seems to me to be a bit of an eyesore.

Stratford is, however, proud of its rail history as shown off by an intricate ‘railway tree’ sculpture close to the station, as indeed the town is also keen to ensure people know where to go. For me though it’s time to return home by tube, by bus and by rail…

Best Picture

I’ve chosen this picture mainly for its mood as it portrays the old railway arch brickwork being offset by the modern concrete bridge in the foreground. The contrast lighting of the stark tunnel mouth, the tunnel lighting and the shaft of light on the ground emanating through a gap between the two bridges, helps with the atmosphere and the proximity of the old and new bridge is also somewhat symbolic of the era’s they represent and are represented in their immediate surrounds.

Please tell me what you think?

See all Stratford (DLR) pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Stratford (DLR) pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Stratford Station on Wikipedia

#33: Heathrow T4 – 19/12/2018

So this is Christmas♫ in the immortal words of John Lennon. Less than a week to go and this will be my final visit before the celebrations, but by the time I get to publish this, it might be all over and the festive headaches will soon turn to New Year ones. Anyway, Seasons Greetings to you all.

Heathrow T4 is at the end of the recently converted Heathrow Connect service by Tfl rail from Paddington to Heathrow that will make up part of the Elizabeth line once all the connecting tunnels and services are complete. For now it’s an independent service, and I had understood that it would have attracted a nominal fee despite having a 60+ Oyster card; but to my surprise, there was no charge – bonus day out.

Those avid followers out there will know from my earlier visit to T5 back in May that I’d tried contacting Heathrow’s Media Centre seeking their permission to photograph but received no response. I decide to try a different approach this time…

A security tale

Arriving at ‘Departures’, I spot four armed policemen patrolling the area who I approach and explain my dilemma. One of them takes up my cause and explains it’s not for them to decide as they act on the airport’s authority but by rule of thumb if someone doesn’t have a permit, they considered it unlikely. However they contacted Heathrow security who arrived in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the police check me out against the Police National Computer and to my relief they declare they have nothing on me.

Three security managers arrive and I explain my position and after liaising with their Media Centre, they tell me to complete the online form which will then be dealt with in 24 hours. Hmmm a sense of déjà vu as this is where I had started back in May. Anyway, it’s evident I won’t get permission today; and despite sharing my exasperation with the security managers who agree with me when I show I can’t find the form on their website, I accept I need to do some further digging to find it. We part company.

Time for a coffee, so I grab one at Costa and decide on my next steps. Options include go home, or as I decide, to carry on my visit without photographs. I muse and drop @Heathrow a tweet outlining my consternation, and to cut a long story short, in 10 minutes I’m given permission to take pictures…the power of social media… 🙂

There are some side anecdotes during this protracted exchange though: one policeman shows an interest in my camera as he is also a keen photographer having started life as a fine art student – but he can’t quite explain how he then diverted into the police force. Another from one of the security managers who shares a recent discussion with a traveller trying to find the right terminal at the airport only to learn his flight was a scheduled flight at Gatwick.

People on the move

Heathrow is designed to move people about, by train, by bus, by car, by taxi and by plane, but getting about within and between terminals is quite tiring. This is because of the distances between passenger access points and departure and arrival gates. Some easements have been introduced, through moving walkways and free rail connecting services between all terminals, nevertheless these are only a small comfort for those passengers trying to navigate their way around with two overly large suitcases.

Whilst contemplating earlier in Costa, I strike up a conversation with a mother awaiting the arrival of her children from the middle east and we find we have some commonality through our recent respective employments. Both of us having worked for digital organisations with similar experiences. It’s a small world.

Signage

To help with passenger flow, clear signage is essential and this is something Heathrow does well. However it does rely on one’s ability to read in English and read with comprehension. I mention this as I heard passengers on more than one occasion asking for confirmation of direction from ground staff and other passengers.

Slipstream

Making my way to Terminal 2, I can’t fail but be impressed by a massive hanging sculpture in the cavernous covered concourse outside the terminal. Walking around and underneath it, I try to work out what it’s representing before I stumble across a plaque explaining its title and description.

This is an impressive artwork by the renowned artist Richard Wilson which has been inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane, and is set to be one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, and seen by 20 million passengers a year.

Architecture

Terminals 4 and 2 are cavernous concrete buildings, but their creators have sculptured and hidden all this with creative geometric designs, shapes and glass that brings a new interest to an otherwise unloved material.

Best Picture

For me, the simplicity and symmetry of the roof space in Terminal 4 has an attractive quality that helps define the space. Passengers seem oblivious to the effort made to create this effect as their focus is on ensuring they are in the right zone. The roof is offset by an expanse of glass bringing the outside light in and draws the eye away from this spectacle above.

I hope you enjoy?

See all Heathrow T4 pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Heathrow T4 pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Heathrow T4 on Wikipedia

#32: Morden – 04/12/2018

South as far as the Northern Line will take me and I arrive at Morden on the edges of Surrey and now part of the London Borough of Merton, and close to Wimbledon. I’ve not been here before so I had no expectations of what to find other than as a National Trust member I am aware of the nearby Morden Hall Park. During the day of my visit, some friends claim via Twitter to have accidentally visited the station after a night out by missing their intended stop en route; I only hope they had forgiving partners…

Suburbia

From the platform through to the typically decorated 20’s/30’s station I admire the standard Underground Roundel above a cavernous entrance hall and sympathetically offset by an elaborate light fitting (see later). The streets of Morden and the immediate surrounds are similar to many other ‘ends of the line’ and I have some difficulty in finding something of particular interest. The main bus station outside the station is where many commuters head for as this end of the line seems to be a short respite for commuters heading elsewhere.

The immediate area is defined by a relatively short figure of 8 road network used to manage the traffic through the area, and shaded reminders of a police campaign to warn of the dangers of drinking and driving are still evident.

Architecture

There are some art deco buildings nearby which typify the style of buildings erected during the area’s period of growth with the advent of the railway at that time, and the strikingly tall 60’s style Civic Centre and Library dominates the immediate skyline. The patterned front is fairly typical of the era, and whilst visually striking and eye catching, I recognise that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Without realising, I find I’m heading south towards Morden South mainline station as I’m drawn to the towering minarette of The Baitul Futuh Mosque, the largest mosque in Western Europe. As I approach, there’s evidence of extensive building works being carried out here, and I begin to wonder if this is in any way in response to a fire there in 2015 or for some other reason: maybe you can let me know?

Morden Hall Park

The triangular shaped park sits in the north east quadrant on the fringes of the town and is defined by: on the westerly side by a main road, and on its northerly side by the tramline running from Wimbledon and Croydon. There are two tram stops in the park’s confines: Morden Road at the northern tip, and Phipps Bridge half way down the edge of the park.

This is a pleasant woodlanded park with open scrub and tree lined avenues harbouring the River Wandle which meanders from Croydon to Wandsworth where it eventually enters the Thames. Morden Hall, now a private venue for wedding hire, isn’t open to explore, but the surrounding grounds, even on a dull wintry day provides an elegant backdrop for some attractive photos of the manicured lawns, managed waterfalls and visiting wildfowl.

Despite the cold conditions, the park has many visitors enjoying the scenery either out rambling, walking their dogs and/or children, or like me taking photographs.

Garden Centre

The park houses the National Trust’s only Garden Centre which draws in many visitors, and at this festive time, allowing them to enjoy the Christmas themed decorations and providing an easy place to park to buy a christmas tree, or simply enjoy the restaurant facilities. I took the opportunity of wandering around the garden centre’s grounds taking an alternative eye to the shapes and patterns created by the displays and surrounds.

Best Picture

There we have it, a simple and pleasant (albeit cold) sojourn around Morden.

For my best picture, I return to the underground roundel described above. This one, in black and white, I think is evocative of the 20’s/30’s style. I have created It using a ‘vogue’ filter within Google Photos to highlight the contrasting starkness, and I think the individual lights on the hanging display complements the light through the high window as your eye is drawn to the ‘DnuorgrednU’ sign.

Let me know what you think or whether you agree with me?

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Morden pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Morden and its station on Wikipedia

#31: Elmers End – 26/11/2018

I forget as I travel that I know where I’m going, but I was asked recently ‘where is Elmers End?’ so if you follow this link it will take you there on Google Maps. It’s a suburban area just south of Beckenham, east of Crystal Palace and north east of Croydon. It’s also one of the ends of the London Tramway that serves an area in the west at Wimbledon and Beckenham in the east.

I hope this helps?

However, when I told my wife where I was going, her first reaction was to ask if it was anything to do with Elmer the patchwork elephant…I leave you to make up your own minds.

Elmers End – a neighbourhood

I have to say this was a very disappointing day out as Elmers End had very little to offer as did its neighbouring surrounds as I stroll aimlessly to Birbeck, Clock House, New Beckenham and a return to Beckenham which seems to be the focal point for the surrounds.

This is very much a commuting area relying on transport links to Croydon and Wimbledon by Tram and Central London and south to Hayes by mainline. The station is adjacent to a large Tesco superstore, and it’s about a five minute walk to ‘the green’ surrounded on one side by local shops, and on the green is a local description of how Elmers End may have acquired its name.

I spot a ghostly shop sign above a closed down cafe: Greenwood’s Corner and on close analysis the sign claims to have been a ‘Noted House of Leather…..Repairers’. If you can decipher the remainder, do please let me know.

Religion in the community

My mood for the day is also affected by the dull, overcast and showery conditions, so understandably there is no one out and about and I find  myself taking solace from the religious building I walk past. As I pass the main cemetery and crematorium, I find a discarded packet of cigarettes warning of the risks of lung cancer quite an interesting juxtaposition. The cemetery is also the resting place for the final remains amongst many others, of W.G. Grace and Thomas Crapper.

Other buildings I passed included: the parish church of St James Beckenham, St John Coptic Orthodox Church; St Michael and All Angels in Birbeck and St Paul’s Church in New Beckenham.

Birbeck and Clock House

More streets with few shops and rows upon rows of houses with only the transmitter from Crystal Palace in the background for company. However some artwork in Birbeck catches my attention and what I can only describe as a de-antlered naked reindeer which I assume has been left in an empty shop in preparation for the festive season. Either that, or an unwanted artefact left when the shop closed.

Clock House’s main attraction is the redeveloped area outside the library where the Beckenham Baths once stood but now replaced by a fashionable spa. The Baths were where Duncan Goodhew and Margaret Wellington, both Olympic swimmers, trained. There is also an impressive Victorian building, Venue 28 now a community centre, where Lord Byron’s wife and mother to Ava Lovelace once lived.

Christmas is coming

…and finally, as I walk around the oak tree lined avenues of very fashionable New Beckenham, I look up and see how the mistletoe has manifested itself. A reminder of the seasonal changes and that Christmas is coming…

Best Picture

This made me smile…that of a laundry service with a catchy web address emblazoned across a delivery van ihateironing.com – the name says it all really and a brief chat with the van driver reveals he gets quite a few smiles from drivers when he’s stuck in queues.

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

See the sidebar for a sample of Elmers End pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Elmers End and its station on Wikipedia

#30: Harrow & Wealdstone – 19/11/2018

The Station

Unlike Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, today is a tale of two distinctly different towns and like my recent visit to Amersham, each town has its own history. So taking the Bakerloo Line, I travel to its northerly end and arrive at Harrow & Wealdstone station.

A pretty undescriptive station, akin to several on the Tfl network that are functional but have probably not seen many improvements over the years It shares its platforms with the Overground line from Euston to Watford Junction, so I expect to be passing through again when I make that journey one day. Depending on your ultimate destination determines which exit you wish to follow; west to Harrow and East to Wealdstone which is my first calling point.

En route, I learn of the tragic events of over 66 years ago on the 8th October 1952 when 112 people lost their lives and 340 others were injured when three trains collided. The triage system, which assesses those in the most urgent need, was implemented for the first time in England during this accident; and this tragic event and the efforts of those who helped to save many others is immortalised in a mural along the length of the station on its outside.

Wealdstone

Named after a sarsen stone placed at the boundary between the parishes of Harrow and Harrow Weald, it can be found outside the Bombay Central restaurant on the approach to Harrow Weald. The restaurant proudly show off their heritage with a display of four tuk tuk’s as a showpiece outside their restaurant.

Other than that, Wealdstone has very little to offer and I feel as if the town is closed in more ways than one. Derelict shops closed some time ago, food outlets not ready to open and guess they’re awaiting the evening passing trade, and signs of social deprivation by way of discarded vodka bottles and Nitrous Oxide canisters. On top of all this gloom it starts to rain, but I remain optimistic in discovering moments of interest.

There are however only a few things that catch my eye as I walk the 4km route from the station to Harrow Weald bus depot and back. These include: an array of colourfully decorated drain covers outside Holy Trinity Church in Headstone Drive; The International Siddhashram Shakti Center in Palmerston Road; and Azure Apartments in Harrow Weald, a modern building crafted in a retro art deco style.

The Civic Centre

Disappointed, and probably frustrated with what little Wealdstone was able to reveal, I decide to head for Harrow. The rain starting to ease I arrive at the Civic Centre with its imposing 1960’s style concrete office block. It being a week after Armistice Day, the memorial stone is still awash with poppy wreaths in the shadow of the Central Mosque. The Civic Centre also proudly displays a stone from El Alamein outside their main building.

Further up the hill, I spot an interesting road name painted on the road in such a way to discourage parking at Eastern Parade, and there are clear signs of the autumnal leaf fall which I catch in the damp rainy pavements

Harrow

I’d best describe Harrow town as an enclave of three main streets. The pedestrianised St Anns Road, Station Road and College Row intersected by two modern shopping centres (St Anns and St Georges) surrounded by a ring road diverting traffic. I tour the area several times looking for historical landmarks and photo opportunities in a relatively new London borough of just over 50 years, and I’m intrigued to see that Professor Brian Cox, that well known physicist has branched out into the field of Estate Agency… 🙂

I wander into St Georges centre to admire their Christmas decorations and I’m challenged by their security patrol who declare as a ‘professional’ I’m not allowed to take pictures. I try and understand their thinking, and as experienced recently at The O2, my DSLR camera is enough to attract attention and is used as the tool by which I’m classified. I explain in vain that their presumption is so wrong on many counts, but decide my case is not with the security operator who was following their centre’s protocol. I sensed though this officer was being less than vigilant as he had spotted me some 10 minutes before challenging me.

Outside, I find shades of the town’s original 60’s planning design in a shadowy walkway under one of the roundabouts west of the town and close to Morrisons with walls adorned with large mosaic style murals and tiles, and above, the creation of a new housing complex.

Lord Byron

South of the main station of Harrow on the HIll is Lowlands Rec adjacent to Harrow College and across the road to The Grove open ground. The rec is home to an open air theatre, and although closed, was frequented by the local students as a convenient place to hang out from the college. I can imagine the tree lined Grove is popular with dog walkers and others enjoying the open air, but it is quiet giving me an uninterrupted opportunity to explore the area.

Espying a church spire through the trees, I follow a footpath leading me to St Mary’s Church and find I’m standing in the spot where Lord Byron is claimed to have spent many an hour gazing across the countryside. By now the sun is out and I share in this scenic moment before descending to the edges of Harrow School which is adjacent to the church and it’s where Lord Byron was schooled for four years up to 1805.

I decide not to explore the school and its surrounds as I wanted to capture Harrow at night time.

Best Picture

I thought I might start a new feature on each blog with my favourite picture, explaining why this is so.

This one I captured in St Annes Road towards the end of the day with few shoppers around and the combination of the town’s Christmas lighting effect and reflection on the wet ground enhances the colouring and adds to the mood I believe. Let me know what you think…

See all Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Harrow & Wealdstone pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Harrow & Wealdstone Station on Wikipedia