diamond geezer

 Sunday, April 28, 2019

6 miles from central London

Let's visit the locations that lie six miles north, east, south and west from the statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square (in a post which confirms that random locations are sometimes unexpectedly interesting).

[1 mile], [2 miles], [3 miles], [4 miles], [5 miles], [map]


SIX MILES NORTH: Alexandra Palace
(on the grassy slope out front)

Having been to some pretty dull residential corners on this mileage quest, this is a proper treat. Six miles due north from Charing Cross lies Alexandra Palace, the heritage entertainment bastion (plus TV mast) on its high hill overlooking the capital. I'd not been recently, and was mighty impressed by the upgraded theatre entrance in the East Court. This vast space has been spruced up with a multi-coloured geometric floor, a rather good historical exhibition (from Wild Bill Cody to the BBC) and the deadest cafe you ever did see. But the precise spot is outside, across the road and down a bit - so not quite at 'perfect vantage point' level. Head down the steps and turn left, towards the tallest tree, stopping where the path bends back on itself. Bingo.



The grass is freshly mown, scattering dandelion heads, lolly sticks and fag ends amid the cuttings. Leaves rustle. Birds sing. Frisbees are thrown. A Green Flag flutters. Up on the South Terrace a double decker bus rolls by. A flurry of foliage blocks sight of Docklands and the City, but the consolation prize is the Spurs saucer, a couple of towers in Ilford and possibly riverside Woolwich. A few steps away behind a picket fence is the entrance to the Ally Pally Pitch and Putt course, unusual in having ten holes. Jack has this month's best score, with 36, while Helen leads the women with a 57. One round plus equipment hire clocks in at just under a tenner, but come before 2pm on a schoolday and they'll let you go round twice. Only two players are taking advantage, and the lad in the hut looks a bit bored. Perhaps they'll ask him for a Solero when they hand their clubs back.

SIX MILES EAST: Thames Wharf DLR station
(Scarab Close, E16)

With almost pinpoint accuracy, welcome to a DLR station that doesn't yet exist. We're on the site of the former Thames Iron Works shipbuilding yard, close to the mouth of the River Lea, where a sheaf of railway sidings once ran down to the dockside. After the Royal Docks closed the area was given over to scrappy industrial uses, notably metal recycling and waste management, because the land was polluted and cheap and nobody else wanted it. The DLR extension to Woolwich sped through it on a viaduct without stopping, and Dangleway passengers get to inspect it in unnecessary detail as they rumble all-too-slowly above. The road into the heart of the site is called Scarab Close, perhaps deliberately named after dung-rolling beetles, and is not somewhere any urban explorer should be venturing. Access is off Dock Road, home to five tall readymix concrete silos, a lockup for the storage of JCB diggers and a Brutalist office block abandoned long ago by Carlsberg-Tetley.



This is the very last corner of the Royal Docks to be redeveloped, but plans for 7000 homes are now on the table and even the Chancellor has thrown in some money. The project's called Thameside West, because that sounds nicer than Brownfield Dump, and its residential towers are expected to be particularly densely packed. But they'll only sell if the DLR stops, hence the intention to build Thames Wharf station between Canning Town and West Silvertown. The name's been programmed into the onboard display system for years, you may remember. A major catch is that the Silvertown Tunnel is due to emerge alongside, indeed Dock Road is due to be transformed into its northern portal, gushing forth traffic towards a reconfigured Tidal Basin roundabout. Two major building projects side by side is a recipe for pollution, disruption and delay, so don't rush to buy a flat, and don't expect to be disembarking from a train here anytime soon.

SIX MILES SOUTH: Streatham Common
(southwest corner)

And back to green again. Six Miles South serendipitously lands in the bottom left-hand corner of Streatham Common, alongside the High Road, just opposite Sainsbury's. Lush slopes, intermittently fenced off with orange netting, spread uphill towards the tearoom and the distant Rookery. Down here there's simply an avenue of horse chestnuts, in full blossom, and a plane tree which may or may not be dead. Criss-crossing paths lead off across the common, carefully following desire lines so nobody feels the need to divert onto the grass. Shoppers trudge by, variously laden, followed by a glum youth in a NASA hoodie smoking a rollup. A gardener from Lambeth Landscapes edges his white van down the footpath taking care not to run anybody over.



At the bus stop a posse of homebound schoolkids in maroon blazers hurl swear words, and in one case a heavy log, at one another. A procession of hearses crawls by, kicking off with Grandad, then a floral tribute in the shape of a football, then various members of his family. The Friends of Streatham Common invite you to a Bat Walk on Friday, a Bird Box Survey on Saturday and a Kite Day on Sunday. Silvana Ices have parked up opposite the entrance to the playground hoping that someone will take their advice and 'try a twin cone today'. The clock on the tower of Immanuel and St Andrew's Church is 70 minutes slow. Dad kicks a football through the dandelions, and Small Son passes it back. 'Celebrate Streatham', says the banner hung from the streetlamp, and here you would.

SIX MILES WEST: Cromwell Close, W3
(Acton, off the High Street)

Acton's smart and dapper, at least in the slice between Churchfield Road and the High Street. Desirable Victorian terraces cut through, conveniently located for shops that sell craft beer, vintage clothes and farmhouse cheese. Turn off Grove Road halfway down to find Grove Place, and turn left off that to enter Cromwell Close. Its residents would rather you didn't because they've slapped Private Property signs everywhere in an attempt to deter unwanted parking, and in the vain hope that pedestrians won't discover it's a cut-through. These flats are rather newer, the central block resembling a converted mill whereas it's absolutely nothing of the sort. Before 1971 this was the site of Acton Technical College, in its later life a campus of the fledgling Brunel University, whose demolition left a hole ripe for redevelopment. No Cycling. No Ball Games. No Dumping. CCTV In Operation. And lots of space for parking.



Through a gate on the far side is Locarno Road, a brief cul-de-sac connecting to the High Street. As well as being packed with Pizza Hut delivery bikes it has two tiny shops, one a barbers and the other an entirely unbranded cafe with space for four chairs outside on a scrap of astroturf. The streetsign high on the wall behind a drooping cable is headed 'Borough of Acton'. Looming across the main road is the clocktower of redbrick Acton Town Hall, as was, deemed surplus to requirements by Ealing council and sold off as a valuable asset. The building's now emblazoned with signs advertising 58 luxury apartments, and its marketing suite and showhome are open seven days a week. Ealing's housing register contains over 12000 applicants, but priorities post-austerity are somewhat skewed.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
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