diamond geezer

 Friday, June 03, 2016

The arrival of trams on the tube map is great news for south London, parts of which now exist for the first time. We all knew about Wimbledon and Croydon, but it turns out there are other places inbetween which we can all now get to. Even better, some of them might actually be worth visiting. Here are a dozen tramtastic arrivals on London's social scene, easily accessed even by northerners. Who knew?

Phipps Bridge
There isn't actually a bridge at Phipps Bridge, although there would have been once, but not nearby. Instead there's the Phipps Bridge estate on Phipps Bridge Road, named after a crossing on the River Wandle, once a hub of the fledgling textile industry. If that doesn't float your boat, head across the tracks to enter Morden Hall Park, a gorgeous National Trust enclave on the banks of the aforementioned river. In the order given on the sign above the entrance, there's a shop, a cafe, an exhibition centre, craft sales and a natural play area. There's also a waterwheel and some really nice parkland, but they're not mentioned, presumably because the National Trust thought nobody would be interested in the real reason they bought up the land in the first place.

Yes, Mitcham is a suburb of south London, indeed it's a historic locale with a penchant for lavender growing and a 17th century cricket ground. Unfortunately the tramstop isn't near the town centre, it's quite a yomp down London Road, so the capital's foodies and shopaholics won't be flooding in any time yet. If you do come, look out for the Georgian physiotherapy clinic with the sash windows, one of the oldest station buildings in the country, once part of the pioneering Surrey Iron Railway.

Mitcham Junction
In bad news, Mitcham Junction isn't very close to the centre of Mitcham either, more a bus ride away. It's not a junction either, not properly, although it was before Tramlink took over the old single track railway line between Wimbledon and Croydon. What you really want to come here for is golf, or pre-used tyres, which are two good reasons in anybody's book.

Beddington Lane
If you alight here, don't go south - it's all industrial estate and sewage works. Instead head north and step into one corner of Mitcham Common, an enormous area of ancient grazing land on Thames gravels, and really rather lovely. This particular corner is The Meads conservation area, a lush woody hideaway with footpaths that weave between branches and blossom, and the occasional dogwalker dangling a grappled plastic bag from their wrist.

Ampere Way
For out of town shopping heaven, come no further. The environs of Purley Way are a byword for retail therapy down Croydon way, and many's the weekend that folk will jump in their cars to join the queues trying to get into B&Q, Matalan or Asda. Best of all there's IKEA, easily spotted thanks to the twin chimneys of the former Croydon Power Station now trimmed with blue and yellow rings up top. The tramstop was even once called IKEA Ampere Way, so important is the flatpack and meatballs merchant hereabouts, but all such unpaid sponsorship has now been excised. Now Tramlink's on the tube map IKEA-hunting Londonders at last have an alternative to catching the Jubilee line to Neasden, but be warned you'll likely be sharing your ride home with punters clutching several large brown boxes.

Waddon Marsh
I presume everyone comes to Waddon Marsh to stare at the gasholder. I know I did.

Wandle Park
The park with the same name is a twelve second walk from the end of the platform, and it's a beaut. A bandstand and a skate park compete for your attention, plus there's a car park because Croydoners wouldn't come otherwise. The river Wandle wiggles through the middle, edged with irises and damselflies, although it's not the proper river, more an artificial channel artfully landscaped to form a drainage basin. Be warned that this is not the Wandle Park in Colliers Wood, because that's been on the tube map for decades, and is only half the size.

Coombe Lane
If you're seeking to get away from it all, in a way the tube map doesn't usually provide, come to Coombe Lane. A few big houses and an independent school intrude, but the remainder of Coombe Woods is a thickly undulating wilderness threaded with footpaths. Avoid the dodgy-looking blokes conspiring in the undergrowth, and head for the unexpected central viewpoint where the land drops away affording panoramic views towards Upper Norwood and half of the Shirley windmill. Perhaps best of all is what looks like an isolated bungalow by the car park, in truth a Chinese restaurant, for all your plush-seated dim sum needs.

New Addington
Of all the places we'd never heard of before the trams came, New Addington is the most outlying. You can even walk to Surrey in fifteen minutes, but only if you think to walk down the unmarked footpath down the side of the recycling centre, which we guess most people never do. New Addington is a local authority estate on a former farmland slope, now home to tens of thousands of people, a swimming pool and Meat Express High Quality Butchers. If you enjoy artisan coffee and cocktail hangouts, best stay away, but if you've ever fancied staring at a London estate agent's window and thinking "blimey, that house looks almost affordable", this could be your kind of place.

In excellent news, there is an actual arena at Arena. It's the Croydon Sports Arena, a purple and pink confection which during the winter months is home to soccer legends Croydon FC, but from May to August hosts fixtures for the Croydon Harriers Athletics Club. Nextdoor expect to find an academy with the word Arena shoehorned into its name, who this September plan to begin lessons in the brand new building they hoped to open last September. Non-sporty and non-academic types should instead make their way to South Norwood Country Park, a vast wetland'n'meadows nature reserve that was formerly a sewage farm, which looks its best in early summer and may not at other times.

Avenue Road
Unless you live in Penge there are absolutely no reasons to come to Avenue Road, save one, which we think compelling. The author and poet Walter de la Mare moved into 195 Mackenzie Road after he got married, and wrote his early classic Songs From Childhood in an upper room overlooking open fields. The view today would be tramline and more houses, not quite enough to inspire poetry, which may be why Walter moved out and wrote The Listeners a few streets away. But what a thrill to loiter by the hardstanding and gaze up at his blue plaque on the gable, above the speckled net curtains, and reflect on a great life lived herein.

Beckenham Junction
And here's the most amazing discovery on the June tube map, the existence of Beckenham. It had been lurking out here in what used to be Kent for years, but only for those in the know, whereas we can all now reach it by going to Croydon on the Overground and then taking the tram. Unusually the shopping streets are quite nice, almost upmarket in places, from Pierluigi's Italian to Hak's Barbers in the Old Fire Station. Be sure to stop off in Kelsey Park where the ducks always need feeding, and watch out for the milepost outside Nat West which reveals it's only X Miles 2 Furlongs to London Bridge. Congratulations to Beckenham for hitting the bigtime, and how fantastic that a town so clearly named after the inventor of the tube map has finally found its way onto his greatest creation.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream