diamond geezer

 Monday, July 15, 2024

Bus Route Of The Day
157: Crystal Palace to Morden

Quadrant: London southwest
Length of journey: 12 miles, 70 minutes

Because it's 15th July I've been out riding the 157, because that's the Bus Route Of The Day. Be warned I have a few of these up my sleeve as the week progresses, one from each quadrant. Also be reassured I won't be overdoing the reportage, focusing mostly on a brief stretch of each route.

The 157 is a perversely bowl-shaped route which links Bromley to Merton via Croydon and Sutton. That it still does this 60 years on is testament to the occasional need to bolt together several useful sections into an impractical meander. Double deckers emerge from Crystal Palace bus station five times an hour and tumble down Anerley Hill - the best view on the entire route - passing Betts Park where the Croydon Canal no longer flows. Then at Aldi the route makes its first big turn and shadows the 75 all the way to Croydon, three long miles whose highlights include South Norwood Clock Tower, Selhurst Train Depot and north Croydon's weird figure-of-8 gyratory. If you were heading to Morden you'd be much better off alighting at West Croydon and taking the tram. Beyond the busy town centre the 157 becomes the direct bus to Wallington, eventually dipping beneath the railway as it veers off for the last drive north. Crossing Carshalton Ponds is the pretty bit, then it's relentless suburbia up Wrythe Lane before catering to the unwell at St Helier Hospital.

There's not much rosy, nor hilly, about the elongated Rosehill roundabout. It acts as the hub of the ginormous St Helier estate, an overspill sprawl built by the LCC in the 1930s, just far enough from useful railways that the bus remains king. The 157 takes the direct route up St Helier Avenue, a pastoral dual carriageway lined by redbrick and pebbledash cottages, with occasional parking spaces for those thwarted by red route restrictions. At the borough boundary I see Merton have replaced their outdated waterwheel with their new tons-blander logo, fortuitously in Wimbledon colours. The bins are out for collection, the yellow cameras await any fool exceeding 30 and Wok Inc haven't yet lifted their takeaway shutters. Morden Hall roundabout toys with the unseen river Wandle and has been sponsored by Tax Link, your friendly local accountants. More and more buses funnel in as the Northern line approaches, then we duck left by the National Trust cafe to approach the heart of the town centre from the rear. Take your pick from Iceland, the emerald-fronted Irish bar or the tube to somewhere rather more substantial, with most passengers plumping for the latter.

Had England won the Euros, our new PM said "we should certainly mark the occasion". He stopped short of confirming there'd be a bank holiday saying he didn't want to "jinx it", but an extra day off work was always a possibility. It didn't happen because Spain scored more goals than we did, hence nobody's going to have to reorganise their workplace schedule at the last minute. But it encouraged me to research England's most sudden bank holidays, and of course I jinxed it by juggling it into a blogpost before the final whistle.

Standard English Bank Holidays
Good Friday and Christmas Day have been public holidays since time immemorial, so no advance warning there. The first 'proper' bank holidays (Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August and Boxing Day) were instigated by the banker Sir John Lubbock and set in stone by the Bank Holidays Act 1871. This received Royal Assent on 25th May 1871, too late for Easter Monday that year but just in time for the other three, notably the Whit Monday holiday which had 4 days advance notice. New Year's Day took another century to be granted, confirmed in the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 and was first observed on 1st January 1974. The May Day bank holiday was first announced by Michael Foot in March 1976, just over two years before the first occurrence in 1978.
How much advance notice?
New Year's Day: 2 years 2 weeks (16 Dec 1971 → 1 Jan 1974)
Easter Monday: 10 months (25 May 1871 → 1 Apr 1872)
May Day: 2 years 1 month (30 Mar 1976 → 1 May 1978)
Whit Monday: 4 days (25 May 1871 → 29 May 1871)
First Monday in August: 2 months (25 May 1871 → 4 Aug 1871)
Boxing Day: 7 months (25 May 1871 → 26 Dec 1871)
Royal bank holidays
Many of our additional bank holidays have been to commemorate siginificant royal events, specifically marriages, funerals and staying alive for a very long time. Of these jubilees are generally planned a long way in advance, coronations take several months, weddings have about five months notice and funerals rear up unexpectedly fast.
How much advance notice?
ERII Coronation: 7 months (22 Oct 19522 Jun 1953)
Anne & Mark: 5 months (29 May 1973 → 14 Nov 1973)
Silver Jubilee: 18 months (18 Dec 19757 Jun 1977)
Charles & Diana: 5 months (23 Feb 1981 → 29 Jul 1981)
Golden Jubilee: 18 months (23 Nov 20002 Jun 2002)
Kate & William: 5 months (23 Nov 201029 Apr 2011)
Diamond Jubilee: 2 years 5 months (5 Jan 20104 Jun 2012)
Platinum Jubilee: 19 months (12 Nov 20203 Jun 2022)
ERII Funeral: 9 days (10 Sep 202219 Sep 2022)
CRIII Coronation: 6 months (6 Nov 20228 May 2023)
Other additional bank holidays
In May 1945 the two VE Day public holidays were announced very late by PM Winston Churchill ("We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing"), specifically in a BBC radio news flash at 7.40pm the night before. The two VJ Day public holidays were announced even later, literally at the very last minute, in a midnight news broadcast by new PM Clement Attlee. In 1968 Harold Wilson sprang a nigh immediate bank holiday on the banks, but not the populace, to try to stall a sterling crisis in the gold markets. Tony Blair offered a one-off bank holiday on Millennium's Eve and gave us six months notice.
How much advance notice?
VE Day: 4 hours 20 minutes (7 May 1945 → 8/9 May 1945)
VJ Day: 0 minutes (15 Aug 1945 → 15/16 Aug 1945)
Sterling Crisis: 20 hours (14 Mar 1968 → 15 Mar 1968)
Millennium: 6 months (23 Jun 1999 → 31 Dec 1999)
England Euros Win: [not happening]
In the absence of an instant football celebration this month, dammit, I can at least bring you what I hope is a definitive Top 10 list of very sudden days off.

England's Most Rapidly Announced Bank Holidays
1) VJ Day (1945) 0 minutes
2) VE Day (1945) 4 hours 20 minutes
3) Sterling Crisis (1968) 20 hours
4) Whit Monday (1871) 4 days
5) ERII Funeral (2022) 9 days

And pencil in Monday 20th July 2026 just in case.

 Sunday, July 14, 2024

Euros final liveblog 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇪🇸
19:00 Only an hour to go.
19:10 I'm having steak and ale pie.
20:00 Kick-off. The score is nil nil.
20:48 Off for oranges at half time.
21:05 Back.
21:06 Goal 😢
21:32 Goal 😀
21:46 Goal 😢
21:55 I'm sure everyone will be very happy with that.

Why is football the world's greatest sport?

It's played by more people than any other sport, watched by more people than any other sport, followed more fervently than any other sport, and all this across more countries than any other sport. What's football's magic, what's it got that no other sport's got and how does it somehow trump all others?

It might not be your favourite sport but that's not relevant here - on a global stage football dominates all.

One reason is that football's so simple to play. It's just you and a ball and all you have to do is kick it. Most other sports are much faffier, requiring specialist equipment like a net, a hoop, a hole or something special to hold or wear. Football merely requires a ball, and not even necessarily a special ball - you can play a decent game with spheres of various types and sizes so long as they're suitably bouncy.

Another reason is you can play it almost anywhere. Ideally you need a big rectangle of grass but fake grass will do, even something more solid potentially indoors, And the rectangle doesn't have to be a specific size, a reasonable range applies, and if playing unofficially you can shrink that down considerably. Even if all you have is the corner of a playground you can still use jumpers for goalposts or chalk on a wall. It scales up, it scales down.

Another reason is it's dead simple to understand. Each team tries to kick the ball between the other team's goalposts and the team that does this most often wins. Obviously there are other rules, indeed one of these is the offside rule which is notoriously difficult to unpick, but the underlying 'count the goals' rule is brilliantly simple. Compare this with tennis (deuce, advantage, game, set, match) or even, heaven forbid, American football.

Another reason is you can imagine you might be good at it. It's only kicking a ball with your foot, how difficult can it be? Extremely difficult as it turns out, at least at the highest levels, but the fundamental basics are within any able-bodied player's reach. This is also why millions of children dream of being a professional footballer, however misguided the aspiration, because why shouldn't the next Harry Kane be them?

Another reason is the element of surprise. The better team usually wins but not always, the chance of an upset is always there and happens just often enough to give everyone hope. Also the games themselves often bring surprising moves, indeed it's pretty much impossible to predict what the field of play will look like in a minute's time (whereas in tennis, say, you know it'll still look like two people either side of a net).

Another is that it creates heroes and villains. One great goal can be talked about forever, whereas one penalty missed can put you in a nation's bad books with no hope of reprieve. Also that glory/infamy can either be at player level or team level, thereby multiplying the fascination, and sometimes what looks like the worst drubbing in the world can all be forgotten by next weekend.

Another reason is it's a common language. I was in the library the other day and three people who'd never normally have spoken were engaged in an animated in-depth conversation about the last match and the next - absolutely invested - which they'd never have done were the topic cricket, politics, climate change, whatever. Not everyone has a footballing point of view, granted, but in no other field is so much expertise shared by so many.

Another reason is the hierarchy of competition. Whatever level your team's at they could always be doing better, or worryingly doing worse, so there's always a narrative drive going forward. Do well in this competition and we'll let you play in the next tier, right up to the full-on continental pinnacle, and even if you win that the next step is to try to do it consecutively because the pressure never ever eases up.

Another reason is nostalgia. Football's been going so long that every team has a lovingly-tended backstory. Even if you're not doing great right now there's always that time when you were, be it an entire season, a glorious cup run or a distant tournament's quarter final. Memories of a giant-killing goal on a Tuesday evening 30 years ago have sustained many a supporter through another turgid run of draws and defeats.

Another reason is that it's tribal. Everyone has a favourite team, even those who barely follow the game, even if that team is their default local side or national squad. For those who follow more faithfully football becomes something of a religion, arguably more of a belief system than religion itself, a blind all-consuming devotion to be carried to the grave. You just don't get that in Formula 1, baseball or darts.

Another reason is the embodiment of nationalism in sport. The England flag and the England team run hand in hand, at least in the minds of many, as if the performance of eleven players somehow embodies the soul of the country. And it's the same elsewhere around the world, particularly in tournaments, where a single result can result in patriotic joy or mass collective despair (or potentially just a lot of drinking).

Another reason is the artifice of the players. Create a good pass, a well-timed tackle, a dazzling run down the wing or a magnificent shot on goal and you'll have everybody talking. Every football match is a free-flowing sequence of events any one of which can demonstrate talent and any one of which can be dissected in enormous detail later. Match of the Day would be nothing more than a highlights show were it not for the inevitable extended punditry, repeated ad nauseam in pubs around the country.

Another reason is sheer drama. Will whatever the score is now continue to the end of the match? Who'll snatch the winner, will the upcoming substitution make a difference and who was to blame for that awful tackle? In particular goals tend to become more common as a game goes on and players tire, so extra-time is always nailbiting and the showdown of a penalty shootout can be more of a coin toss than a display of talent.

Another reason is micro-management. Every fan thinks they know how they'd run the team, which players they'd pick, who they'd buy and who they'd leave on the bench. It's especially easy to have an opinion on how the current manager's doing, especially if they're doing badly, which somehow isn't so fanatically driven in other sports.

Another reason is that every match can be summed up in two numbers. If someone tells you the result was 2-1, 0-0, 4-0 or 6-6 you can instantly understand the underlying story of the game. Tennis needs lots more numbers, golf tends to go negative, cricket is a shower of digits and rugby's scoring is an artificial construct. Admittedly it's not quite as simple as a race ("Who won?), but football's number pairs are narratively all-powerful.

Another reason is the rarity of the goals. Somehow a game has evolved in which goals are relatively infrequent, generally one, two or three per half, so when one happens it's of enormous importance. If goals were ten a penny you wouldn't get that explosion of emotion when they occur, and if they were excessively infrequent there'd be far too many tedious no-score draws. I'd argue the perfectly-pitched frequency of the goals is at the very heart of what makes football shine.

Another reason, therefore, is the size of the goalposts. Any bigger and they'd let in more goals which'd cheapen things, any smaller and they'd let in fewer goals and everyone'd get bored. Kudos to the people who deduced the dimensions that worked best, and indeed how far away the penalty spot needs to be, because another few inches and it'd be a very different game.

Another reason is the sheer simplicity of the numbers. Football's not about 7s, 15s and 40s, it's about 0s, 1s, 2s and 3s. Everybody gets that. It also means there's a very limited number of likely scores, just enough to make predictions worthwhile, even if all you're going to guess is that the result'll be 2-1 because everyone predicts that.

Only two sporting events unite the planet, one being the Olympics and the other the World Cup. But the Olympics involves a multitude of sports and the World Cup just the one - the all-consuming, population-embracing sport of football. Obviously talent and tactics play their part, but it's also the simplicity of the rules, the rarity of the goals and the underlying mathematics that makes football a devotional entity.

Bear that in mind as England strives for glory tonight, or crashes and burns, and somehow an entire continent watches on.

 Saturday, July 13, 2024

Dull Saturday morning

07:00 Mug of tea
07:30 Crumpet
08:00 Paper shop
08:30 Evening Standard
09:00 Giving Parkrun a miss
09:30 Pigeons in the park
10:00 Leaden skies
10:30 Spits and spots
11:00 A church bell rings
11:30 Mug of tea
12:00 Cheese & Onion

Less dull Saturday morning

07:00 It's the weekend and a wealth of opportunities spread before us. Cultural, recreational, social, explorational, motivational, architectural, gastronomical, provincial, parochial, financial, retail, whatever. So many possibilities. Or you could just waste the day.
07:30 Just flicking through a copy of Tunnels & Tunnelling International magazine over breakfast. The proposed Stad Ship Tunnel looks astonishing, a mile-long bore designed to let cruise ships avoid the most turbulent section of Norway's fjordy coastline.
08:00 Buying my paper I interrupted the shop assistant who was trying to unload today's delivery of fresh milk into the chiller cabinet, and given the steady drip of construction workers nipping in behind I fear the bottles may still be in the aisle.
08:30 It's not a good sign that hundreds of copies of the Evening Standard remain in the hopper outside Farringdon station, having not been picked up last night. No wonder they're stopping printing a Friday edition from 2nd August (and Mondays from 5th August, and going weekly later in the year).
09:00 This guy in Hendon was loading a skip onto a truck but had parked diagonally across the pavement so the only way past was to walk out into the busy Edgware Road, and he didn't acknowledge me, not even a glance, but it's OK I'm still alive.
09:30 I don't know what's most surprising about the Barnet Millenium Walk, the fact the council no longer acknowledges it, the fact its signs only point in one direction or the fact they spelled Millenium with one 'n'. I failed to follow it beyond Silkstream Park.
10:00 I've always been amused that there's a whole neighbourhood of northwest London essentially called Colin. Today I left Colindeep Lane and found myself crossing Colin Gardens, Colin Crescent and Colin Drive. One day I will blog properly about the weirdness of Colindeep, but today I merely shuddered across its grim motorway footbridge/railway subway combo.
10:30 I was pleasantly surprised to get a 4G signal on the Northern line all the way from Golders Green to Camden Town, having totally lost track of how far the incremental rollout has progressed. It seems TfL have lost track too - the explanatory text on their website is behind the times (although the attached pdf map is better informed).
11:00 Even in this very meh weather London Bridge is still full of weekend sightseers and global tourists grabbing their chance to cross the iconic span and get a selfie with Tower Bridge in the background. "Look it's the tallest building in the world" said a mother to her children, pointing at the Shard, and I kept diplomatically quiet.
11:30 It's the weekend and a wealth of opportunities spread before us. Cultural, recreational, social, explorational, motivational, architectural, gastronomical, provincial, parochial, financial, retail, whatever. So many possibilities. Or you could just waste the day going to Burnt Oak and back. Still, I got my 13,000 steps in.

12:00 So yeah, I had no idea what to post today, having not been anywhere overly exciting yesterday and having decided I wasn't going to subject you to another day of transport-related waffling. What I've discovered is that you can get more comments by posting three dozen words than by writing 1500 (and that I probably needn't have written this extra exposition either).

   WORDLE #13724

 Friday, July 12, 2024

Crossing the river news

Silvertown Tunnel toll news

The proposed tolls for using the Silvertown Tunnel have been announced. They're not called tolls, they're called user charges, but we all know what they are. The tolls will also apply to the Blackwall Tunnel from the day the Silvertown Tunnel opens which is expected to be 'spring 2025'. The Rotherhithe Tunnel and Woolwich Ferry will remain free. TfL first proposed tolling the two tunnels in a consultation in 2012 under the previous Mayor, so you've had a very long time to get used to all this.

The lowest charge will be £1.50 for motorbikes and cars.
Large vans pay more than small vans.
HGVs are paying well over the odds.

But it's quite complicated, and you might well end up paying more.

Firstly there'll be higher charges at peak times.
Peak times are northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening.
The morning peak is four hours long (6-10am), the evening peak is three (4-7pm).
Cars will pay more than twice as much at peak times - £4 instead of £1.50.

Also the lower fares apply only to those who've registered for an 'Auto Pay' account.
Everyone else pays peak fares even if it's not peak time.
You'll be able to pay the charge via a website, an app or a phoneline but the financial penalty will be severe.
You'll have three days to pay.

In good news the tunnels will be free to use...
a) between 10pm and 6am
b) on Christmas Day

Using the tunnels will also be free for Blue Badge holders, vehicles with 9 or more seats, taxis, the emergency services and 'Zero-Emission Capable and Wheelchair Accessible private hire vehicles'.

There'll also be short term local discounts.
• £1 off for small businesses registered in Tower Hamlets, Newham or Greenwich, but only off-peak and only for 12 months.
• 50% off for low-income residents in 13 east and southeast London boroughs, this for at least 3 years.

Cars will pay less than on the Dartford Crossing (which is £2 for Auto Pay).
Motorbikes will pay more than on the Dartford Crossing (which is free).

Cyclists will not be allowed to ride through the Silvertown Tunnel but they can use a new cycle bus shuttle which'll be free for at least 12 months. The results of this consultation are promised 'soon'. (see previous lengthy blogpost)

Pedestrians will not be allowed to walk through the tunnels but they can catch a bus.
There'll be three bus routes (see previous lengthy blogpost)
» the existing 108 through the Blackwall Tunnel
» an extended 129 to the backside of Beckton
» the still-frankly-baffling Superloop route SL4

I note that catching a bus through the tunnels (£1.75) will be more expensive than driving (£1.50).

Local residents will get two further concessions for a duration of 12 months.
• Free trips on the new cross-river bus services (108, 129 and SL4).
• Free trips (refunded) for those making DLR journeys from King George V - Woolwich Arsenal or Island Gardens - Cutty Sark.

If you'd like more background detail the consultation website has a lengthy set of FAQs.
If you'd like even more background detail try this 51 page pdf of Supplementary Information.

Dangleway News

This advert has been all over the place lately, including on tube posters and popping up in Instagram.

It say 'Book now to save up to 30%* on the IFS Cloud Cable Car'.

The asterisked smallprint says 'Peak and off-peak discounts vary. Maximum 30% discount only available for off-peak round trips when you book seven days in advance'.

I couldn't find any further details of how the discount works. However I have tried finding fares using online ticketing and I can confirm that the 30% discount is not a widespread offer.

Price of a round trip booked in advance
Today: £12 (full price)
This weekend: £12 (full price)
Monday: £10 (17% off)
Tuesday: £9.50 (20% off)
Wednesday: £9 (25% off)
Thursday: £9 (25% off)
Friday: £8.40 (30% off)
Saturday and every day more than 7 days in the future: £10.20 (15% off)

i.e. the 30% offer only applies 7 days in the future, and never at weekends.

You get no discount for a single trip.
You used to get 17% off simply for using Oyster or contactless but they scrapped that.

So if you want to risk paying in advance and possibly turning up during dull or wet weather you could save a few quid. But probably not as much as the 30% in the adverts.

 Thursday, July 11, 2024

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It's the Gibbins Road entrance and for most passengers it's of no use whatsoever.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It opened late. It was meant to open by the end of March but it didn't. It was due to open in May but it didn't. It's looked finished for ages but it clearly wasn't otherwise they'd have opened it earlier. It finally opened yesterday. [8 photos]

Stratford station has a new entrance.
Originally you could only exit to the east - that's to the bus station and town centre. In 2011 they added an exit to the northwest - that's to Westfield and the Olympic Park. Now they've added an exit to the south - that's to the Carpenters Estate. Given that the Carpenters Estate opened in 1967, you could argue this entrance is over 50 years late.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
They opened it quietly at noon - no fanfare. A few senior staff were hovering to check everything went smoothly, one even grinned out loud at being the first person through, but it was a very soft launch. Maybe the Mayors of Newham and/or London will turn up later and applaud properly.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
In an act of seeming generosity, the new entrance benefits several hundred residents in most-low-rise mostly low-quality council housing on the Carpenters Estate. They live in a wedge between the mainline railway and the Jubilee line so previously the most direct route to the station has been via a skanky footbridge at the end of Jupp Road. Now they can walk straight in via a new entrance at the tip of Gibbins Road, and if they want the Jubilee line it's right there, no steps, no escalators, dead easy.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It used to be a staff entrance leading to a small car park and a rubbish collection point. Now it's a proper exit with ticket gates and ticket machines accessed from a small piazza with cycle parking and benches. They're very nice benches, proper wooden beauties, but seemingly far too many of them for the dribble of footfall this entrance is going to get.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It's really really convenient for the Jubilee line. You walk off the trains and there it is, just before Pret. If you arrive on the elevated DLR platforms via Pudding Mill Lane you can see the new entrance down below on your right.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It's labelled 'Way Out Gibbins Road' above the gateline. If you're not sure where Gibbins Road is, there's no map to help you. If you simply fixate on the words 'Way out' you may be tempted to leave the station in a highly suboptimal location.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
I worry that a lot of people exiting the station will use it by mistake and find themselves the wrong side of a barrier a long way from where they want to be. The new exit ejects you abruptly into a semi-industrial backwater at the tip of a maze-like housing estate with minimal facilities. As yet there are no signs or maps to suggest where to go next which seems a serious lack of forethought. To reach the front of the station is a walk of 500m via the aforementioned skanky footbridge, and that's assuming you know it exists and can work out which way to go. To reach Westfield without retapping at the barriers is a full half mile, that's how out of the way this exit is.

Stratford station has a new exit.
I'm not sure I'd want to use it after dark. Indeed I was considering using it at 10pm last night but I thought "this goes nowhere terribly populated and it's a long way to Stratford High Street where I'd feel safe, I don't think I'll risk it", so I didn't.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
Revenue-wise it's a real weakspot in the station's perimeter because it'll require full-time staffing to ensure nobody sneaks in and out without paying. I was particularly surprised yesterday afternoon to see they'd already left the gates open, although four revenue protection officers were hovering out front just in case. It didn't make for great Day One vibes.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It cost a few million pounds, but because it's part of a wider package including the installation of new lifts and the extension of a disused subway it's not possible to say precisely how many millions it cost. Peanuts in the grand scheme of things, I'd have thought, given it's level access throughout.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It's been put forward as a new way to reach the Olympic Park, but it's not really much quicker than the existing route via Westfield. On the plus side you don't need to exit via Westfield. One thing I reckon it'll be extremely useful for is crowds heading to and from the Olympic Stadium. The wooden fencing feels very much like it was deliberately designed to funnel rowdy West Ham supporters into a side-entrance.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It's so unusual to gift fresh infrastructure to a 50 year-old council estate that there must be a catch, and indeed there is. It's because the Carpenters Estate is due to undergo almost-total regeneration upping the number of homes from 700 to over 2000, as befits a prime slice of land adjacent to Britain's 6th busiest station. It's been a very long time coming - Newham council were intent on decanting everyone long before the Olympics - but a ten year masterplan was finally agreed earlier this year with the tower blocks getting their spruce-up first. The station improvements aren't for the long-suffering residents of the existing Carpenters community, they're for the incomers who'll pay to live in shiny boxes to the south of Stratford station over the next decade.

Stratford station has a new entrance.
It may look like a few ticket barriers but in reality it's the starting gun for an explosion of highrise gentrification. One day there'll be a coffee stall outside, however unlikely that looks on opening day.

Stratford station has a new exit.
It's the Gibbins Road exit and if you use it by mistake you will kick yourself.

 Wednesday, July 10, 2024



London's Monopoly Streets


Colour group: red
Purchase price: £220
Rent: £18
Length: 1200m
Borough: Westminster
Postcode: WC2

And so to the reds, a linear trio connecting the West End to the City. For this first property I have the opposite problem to the last of the oranges. Vine Street was ridiculously short and dull whereas this is long, historic and so packed with points of interest I could easily blog about it for an entire week. I am therefore going to have to omit a lot of stuff so please don't chirp up and tell me "You forgot to mention..." because in fact there just wasn't room.

Let's all go down the Strand...

...and let's start with the name. It references the street's location along the outside of a bend in the Thames (from the Old English word 'strond' meaning the edge of a river). Officially it's Strand, not The Strand, as its street signs make clear. That said not all the businesses along the street are in full agreement. Tesco is 100% convinced it's The Strand, using the name twice on its frontage, whereas the street's other supermarket has plumped for Welcome to Strand's Co-op instead. The most confused business is Pizza Express which gives the address of one of its restaurants as 147 Strand and the other as 450 The Strand, as if hedging its bets.

n.b. In what follows I'm going to follow established practice, which is that "when writing about this street you say the Strand (note lower case article), but when using its name formally, as in an address, you drop the article". That's an administrator on Wikipedia speaking, where an exasperating decade of tedious grammatical arguments has recently been shunted off into an archive in an attempt to get the angriest pedants to calm down.

The Strand has long been an important street, as you'd expect when one end is at Charing Cross and the other at Temple Bar, a ceremonial entrance to the City. For many centuries the south side of the street was lined by very large houses, even palaces, where London's wealthiest enjoyed a premium location with their own river gates and landings backing directly on the Thames. If you were playing Monopoly 500 years ago your four houses on the Strand might have been Essex House, Arundel House, York House and Durham House, each home to either an earl or an archbishop. However all of these grand homes were sequentially demolished as the wealthy found nicer places to live and a more commercial district emerged instead. Somerset House is one of the last mansions standing, and even this is a 1770s replacement for what was originally a Tudor courtier's Renaissance home.

If you think the Strand's busy today, imagine how much worse it was before the Victoria Embankment siphoned off the worst of the traffic. A lot of what now rumbles up and down is taxis and a lot of the rest is buses, feeding off Trafalgar Square and inching along the street beneath the London Heritage Quarter banners. I like how this end of the Strand has a convenient cobbled central reservation, ideal for nipping halfway across, although few pedestrians choose to use it instead waiting patiently for a green man. No that's not the original Eleanor Cross outside Charing Cross station. No there isn't a cashpoint outside Coutts Bank. Yes there are depressingly high numbers of homeless people sleeping in the street, at least if you turn up early enough in the morning.

A lot of those thronging the pavements are tourists, this being but a short walk from multiple places on their itinerary, so they're well catered for in terms of brash souvenir shops and places to eat. The best known restaurant hereabouts is probably Simpsons-in-the-Strand which started out in 1828 as a chess club (although it's currently closed for a refresh) and the best known pub must be Edwardian quirkfest The Coal Hole (although its facade is currently behind a heck of a lot of scaffolding). As for the most famous shop that's got to be Stanley Gibbons, the esteemed stamp emporium, which has occupied three different addresses on the Strand since 1891. This is also very much Theatreland, as the red-branded streetsigns suggest, the current choices being Back to the Future at the Adelphi, Six at the Vaudeville and Mean Girls at the Savoy.

The Savoy was a theatre before it was a hotel and many other things before that. It started out as the Savoy Palace in the 13th century, became the most magnificent nobleman's house in London, was burnt down by marauding peasants, became a hospital for the poor, decayed inexorably and was substantially demolished to make way for the approach to Waterloo Bridge. After another fire only the Tudor chapel remained, and Richard D'Oyly Carte then stepped in to open a theatre exclusively for Gilbert and Sullivan operas. When this faltered economically he built a hotel alongside in an attempt to attract a wealthier audience and this pivot to hospitality proved enormously successful. Today you can spaff £1000 a night on cocktails, bathrobes and a sense of superiority, enjoying the rarity of driving on the right-hand side of the road as your taxi deposits you out front, or sneak across the street to the Strand Palace which is the slightly less exclusive Monopoly choice.

The eastern half of the Strand has a very different feel - much more open, less busy and with more nods to history. It's also been radically transformed of late with through traffic diverted off round Aldwych allowing for 300m of imaginative pedestrianisation. This space is already much-loved, not least by students spilling out of King's College who can now loiter in the street with friends or protest for Palestine without being knocked down by a passing bus. Tucked into the corner of the university is an entrance to one of the most famous ghost stations on the tube network, seemingly called Strand, although this was of course only its name between 1907 and 1915 when it was renamed Aldwych. I won't go into the full Strand/Charing Cross renaming malarkey because I first did that over 20 years ago and I assume everyone's over-familiar by now, but I will say TfL now charge £45 for an Aldwych visit.

Two of the oldest buildings on the Strand can be found here in the middle of the road, essentially on traffic islands, hence the pair are sometimes referred to as the Island Churches. St Mary le Strand is one of the twelve Queen Anne Churches built after the Great Fire to support a rapidly increasing population. It's not in a good state at the moment with an exclusion zone around the perimeter in case of falling masonry, a risk which ought to be taken seriously given that a stone urn fell and killed a passer-by in 1802. St Clement Danes is much older, reputedly founded in the 9th century, although the current building is a Wren concoction topped by a subsequent steeple. It may or may not be the church referenced in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons but it absolutely is the Central Church of the Royal Air Force which explains the cluster of statues to bombdroppers and other military paraphernalia out front.

The Strand continues a tad further, past a statue of Samuel Johnson, past a well 191 feet deep, past a magnificent four-headed lampstand and past a sadly-closed set of underground public conveniences. Twinings have had a tea shop here since 1717, selling dry leaves rather than hot cups, its sparse shelves leading to a very small 'museum' at the back. The really big building here belongs to the Royal Courts of Justice, a Gothic landmark resembling a cross between a cathedral and a German castle, which has been despatching offenders to their fate since 1882. The Strand terminates at the precise point where the borough of Westminster morphs into the City, once marked by Temple Bar and now by a less obstructive dragon-topped column in the middle of the road. Beyond here it's all Fleet Street... but that's the next property on the Monopoly board so we'll be back soon enough to pick up where we left off.

 Tuesday, July 09, 2024

20 years ago this week TfL published a map of what their transport network might look like in 2016.
(technically it was 20 years ago last week, but the actual anniversary was election day and we were all otherwise occupied)

They hoped it might look like this.

The map has obviously disappeared from the TfL website because two decades is a digital lifetime. Thankfully London Reconnections wrote about it in 2011 and uploaded a large jpg which, thanks to blogspot longevity, still exists. Also way back in 2004 the Wayback Machine captured and stored the original pdf, which I only found because I blogged about the map at the time and my post included the correct link. Hurrah for planned non-obsolescence. [jpg] [pdf]

The original press release also still exists, 2004 being the earliest year TfL's archive keeps. I can reproduce it here in full because back in 2004 press releases were generally straight-forward statements of fact rather than pumped full of verbose backslapping brand froth.
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today revealed his map of how London's transport system could look in 2016. The new map includes all the major transport projects planned for the next ten years including Crossrail, the East London Line Extension, Thameslink 2000 and DLR extensions.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: "Improved transport infrastructure is vital for London to maintain the international competitiveness upon which our prosperity depends. This map shows how London's transport system will look in 2016 if we make the essential investments in the city's transport infrastructure. These investments are necessary to sustain London's growth and prosperity and will enhance the economic growth prospects and productivity of the entire United Kingdom. This map represents the future of London's transport system. It shows what we need to do to ensure our city's future success."
2004 was a completely different world - lots of projects in the pot, potential money from government and all partially spurred on by London being one of the candidate cities for the 2012 Olympics. But which of the potential projects made it into transport reality and which fell by the wayside (or were comprehensively binned by a subsequent Mayor)? How much of this future 2016 actually happened, and how much of it happened late?

East London Line
The Overground was already being planned in 2004, the former East London tube line closing in 2006 so it could be transformed and extended north and south. This section, which is about to be dubbed the Windrush line, opened through the Thames Tunnel in 2010 with the connection to Clapham Junction added in 2012. It's interesting to see that the original intention at the northern end was for trains to terminate one stop further on at Caledonian Road & Barnsbury, not Highbury & Islington. The other anomaly is the perennially-deferred station at Surrey Canal Road whose funding somehow remains in limbo to this day.

Metropolitan Line
The map includes the long lost Metropolitan line extension to Watford Junction, including the original intermediate station names of Ascot Road and Watford West. Planners took it terribly seriously for years and Boris later waved a magic wand regarding funding, but Sadiq silently scuppered it almost as soon as he came to power. Our first 2016 map failure.

Piccadilly Line
This is the extension to Heathrow Terminal 5 which opened successfully in 2008. By July 2004 the British Airports Association had already agreed to fund it so it was always going to happen.

This arrived a lot lot later than 2016 but was already on the drawing board in July 2004 (and finally got government funding a fortnight after this map was published). The route across central London was already set with stations in all the now-familiar locations, plus an understanding that it'd branch east to Shenfield and Abbey Wood. Out west however the termini were Heathrow and Kingston (the latter via Richmond and an intriguing interchange at Turnham Green), with Maidenhead/Reading added later. Stations at Acton Main Line, West Ealing, Hanwell and Southall were not proposed at this time, ditto Maryland out east, ditto Woolwich (a very last minute addition). The other big difference between then and now is that the line was due to extend past Abbey Wood to Dartford and Ebbsfleet - still an aspiration but a not a very likely one.

Thameslink already existed in 2004, indeed trains had been crossing the City since 1988. What this map was referencing was Thameslink 2000 and the (massively-delayed) connection between Finsbury Park and King's Cross Thameslink which finally linked up in 2018. Additional tentacles to Horsham, Orpington, Sevenoaks and Rainham were not envisaged at this time.

Croydon Tramlink ❌❌❌
Croydon's trams were only four years old at this point and there was vast optimism regarding potential extensions. The map shows three of these including a wildly aspirational Streatham-Purley link which never properly advanced. Elsewhere a short branch to Crystal Palace was progressing nicely until 2008 when Boris abruptly pulled the plug, and a slimmed-down connection to Sutton was vaguely on the drawing board until the pandemic scuppered it.

Docklands Light Railway ✅✅❌
Three extensions were shown and two were built well before 2016. A new branch to Woolwich Arsenal opened in 2009 and to Stratford International in 2011. The extension that never came to pass was to Dagenham Dock, since reimagined as a shorter cross-river connection to Thamesmead. The Overground got to Barking Riverside instead in 2022. Closer scrutiny of the map shows the presence of a still-unachieved DLR halt at Thames Wharf and no extra station at Langdon Park (opened 2007).

West London Transit/Cross River Transit ❌❌
Ken Livingstone was a big fan of trams and had two new projects on the go. West London Transit was the most advanced, except local people kicked up such a stink about laying tram tracks along the Uxbridge Road that the only politically sensible action was to ditch it. Today Superloop route SL8 has to suffice. Cross River Transit would have linked Camden Town to Peckham and Brixton via Waterloo Bridge, a considerable imposition on roads in central London but also an opportunity to plug a tube/rail void beyond Elephant & Castle. Boris killed that off six months after taking office, as he did with the next two...

East London Transit/Greenwich Waterfront Transit ❌❌
These weren't trams, they were "segregated high-quality bus schemes", but Boris extinguished both anyway. ELT was subsequently trimmed to a couple of routes between Barking and Barking Riverside (with branded vehicles and bus shelters), rather than the intended web of routes to Barkingside, Rainham, Romford and beyond. GWT has only come back on the radar recently as a possible new Superloop route linking Greenwich to Thamesmead. Boris also binned the Thames Gateway Bridge which would have linked the Transits across the Thames (although completion of the alternative Silvertown Tunnel is now only a year away).

(you can discover more about all these projects as they stood mid-2000s on an archived version of Dave Arquati's much lamented website alwaystouchout.com)

Also on the 2004 map...
✅ Silverlink (which became the core of the first tranche of the Overground in 2007)
✅ Eurostar switching to St Pancras (but also shown at Stratford International which never happened)

We don't often step back and take stock of forward-looking snapshots taken many years ago. How much was delivered, how much proved impractical and how much was dropped... and what does that teach us about future plans?

The 2016 map may not have happened in full but a goodly proportion of it eventually did, delivering better transport links for all. This feels especially relevant as a new government takes control and pledges to focus on growth rather than NIMBY complaints. Sometimes you really have to focus on the long game, however expensive and/or unpopular delivering it might be, because 20 years later all that really matters is what got built.

 Monday, July 08, 2024

geezr/london 6h

Why are hire bikes dumped everywhere? it makes me so mad

Everywhere I go hire bikes are dumped on the pavement, just abandoned. People leave them in the most awkward places, often the worst possible location, like sideways-on or right beside a lamppost or across a doorway or just blocking everything. Can people not see how awkward this is? What is up with their blinkered sense of self-entitlement?

423   💬25

penryjan 6h
I would fine all cyclists £100, that's everyone who's ever ridden a bike in public, even me.

obmit 5h
These are Lime bikes. They are green and electric so they go faster than you can pedal yourself. They cost £1 to hire and then 27p a minute. You have to have the Lime app (or Uber app) on your phone to be able to use them. They can only be used within a certain zone across most of inner London.
monkeytennis 4h
Hang on, 27p a minute, that's outrageous! A mere five minute ride costs £2.35 and that's more expensive than a bus! A 20 minute ride is £6.40 and that's like two coffees! Why do people use these bikes?!?

Bimbles 3h
Because it's cheaper than buying a bike, particularly if it keeps being stolen.

McSpatula 42m
I used to own a bike but I had three stolen so these hire bikes are a godsend. I wouldn't leave my own bike in the street, even locked up, but these are chunky and self-locking so you can leave them anywhere and if they get nicked it's not your problem. Absolute gamechanger, it's transformed getting around London for me.
zxcvbnm12 5h
It's blind people I feel sorry for. They have a hard enough job getting around anyway and now there are all these additional obstructions everywhere and imagine the injuries they could cause. Society makes all kinds of efforts to boost accessibility in all other forms of transport and then we let people scatter dangerous metal obstacles all over the pavement. Madness!

Greggers 4h
I drive a car so I don't understand why people need bikes.

wingnutz 4h
My mates are always hopping on a Lime bike, it's like second nature to us. So convenient and saves getting on the bus with the grandads. And yeah they cost but everything costs these days, we don't care, we're quite used to apps taking our money without us noticing.

Ecosoldier 4h
Cycling is the best way to travel, it's green and clean and simple and fast! And OK so e-bikes aren't entirely green, and someone's forever driving round topping all the batteries up, but they're so much better than cars! Cut cyclists some slack, people, we're doing right by the planet.
clarxon 2h
Cyclists are awful people, they ride dangerously and go too fast and jump red lights and ride on the pavement, no wonder they dump their hire bikes wherever they bloody like. Delivery riders are the worst, zipping in front of you all the time because someone can't be arsed to leave the house to get a pizza. Adding hire bikes into the mix has been disastrous, our streets have become a wild lawless zone, and the Mayor does what exactly?

ProudMick 1h
I blame the fascist Mayor because I assume he introduced these, and even if he didn't I hate him anyway. Bloody ULEZ! Labour really hates motorists, you wait til the next election they'll be turfed out because the people will rise up, it's just common sense.
trantella 4h
On my neighbourhood Facebook group we're always sharing photos of badly-parked hire bikes. We compete to see which photo gets the most hate. The best one we ever had was a bike blocking the ramp up to A&E at our local hospital. One of our group says he can't sleep at night because he's worried someone'll leave an e-bike outside his house and it'll catch fire.

diamondgeezer 3h
I live near the edge of a hire bike zone so we have far more than our fair share of bikes dumped on the pavement because you literally cannot ride them any further. Useful if you want to use one though - there's always one available!

DerekM 3h
The big problem is that these bikes are dockless. You don't get dumping problems with Santander bikes - well not often anyway - but once bikes don't have to be left in a particular place people just leave them anywhere.
1992tilidie 53m
The issue is that different boroughs have different rules for parking. Some insist you park in Mandatory Zones, some have Preferred Parking, and some have no zones and just ask you to Park Responsibly. Fat chance.
frizzoid 3h
You know you can hack these bikes don't you? You just snap the pedals or something and then you ride round for free all day, that's what today's youth do, and then it's no surprise they leave their hacked bike where the rest of us will trip over it.

obmit 2h
I believe there are three bike hire schemes in London.
Lime: £1 to unlock, then 27p per minute
Human Forest: 10 minutes free daily, then 29p per minute + 50p parking fee
Santander: £1.65 for 30 minutes plus £1.65 for every extra 30 minutes.
Bimbles 2h
Human Forest?! What kind of name is that?

penryjan 12m
Don't forget some of these companies also do a 'pass' for regular riders, for example a 200 minute pass for £18.99, and then a hire bike can be cheaper than the tube.
RPeggio 2h
I'm a cafe owner and I can't even put a table on the pavement without a permit, and yet cycling yobs can leave their metal monsters anywhere they like! I've bent Nick Ferrari's ear about this issue on multiple occasions.

BigYoda 1h
The problem is you can't move the bloody things if someone parks them badly. I'd move them out of the way myself but they're often very heavy. I know they're designed not to move after they're parked, but that doesn't help if they're parked somewhere stupid!

LucidTopiary 1h
These bikes cost a lot and people block pavements/drop kerbs with them all the time. I've had to knock them over before to get my wheelchair out of the road and onto the pavement. I feel awful about it as they are then a danger for visually impaired people, but I also need to get out of traffic and don't have that many options.

Kevsays 47m
It's the same people who push through ticket barriers, they're the ones parking their hire bikes irresponsibly. I'm only sorry the Tories lost the election so they won't be bringing in National Service! I'd like to see young people suffer more for their misdemeanours.
ambertopaz 7m
Some people are thoughtless - it's the same in all areas of life - get over it.
nutmegger179 30m
It is possible to think hire bikes are a good thing and also condemn those who dump them thoughtlessly. Why is social media obsessed with amplifying artificial arguments pretending everything's black and white? The world would be a better place without furious morons over-simplifying things.

 Sunday, July 07, 2024

The General Election has seen Labour strengthen its hold over the capital with 59 MPs, while the Liberal Democrats have doubled their total to 6 and the Conservatives slumped to just 9. The electoral map of London is thus almost all red, with a yellow bloc to the southwest and a few blue holdouts in the far corners.

But there is one place in London - just one - where constituencies of all three colours meet. I have of course been, and this is what that electoral triple point looks like.

It looks like a mess.

In the foreground are five traffic cones, a locked gate, two portaloos and a skip piled high with wooden benches, surplus netting and a wheelbarrow. This is the constituency of Croydon West and it's held by Labour.
The hedge to the left conceals a private gated development called Redstacks Court. The boundary bends round to include the pavement where I was standing. This is the constituency of Croydon South and it's held by the Conservatives.
The trees in the background are part of the back garden of Pixie Cottage, the first house on a gravelly private road called Overhill Road. This is the constituency of Carshalton and Wallington and it's held by the Liberal Democrats.

We're in Purley, just to the north of the town centre, close to the junction of Highfield Road and Purley Way. The precise triple point (where playing field meets hedge meets back garden) is back left in my photo, pretty much exactly behind the upturned wheelbarrow. It's also sadly off-limits, the gates to the playing field being firmly locked, but that didn't stop me from exploring the three disparate constituencies to compare and contrast.
Croydon West
Sarah Jones [Lab] 20,612 (54%)
Simon Fox [Con] 6,386 (17%)
Ria Patel [Green] 3,851 (10%)
This new constituency includes Croydon town centre and stretches as far north as Thornton Heath. This however is the very southern tip, a long green tail hanging down towards Purley consisting entirely of recreational space. The skip at the tip is part of Thomas More Catholic School's playing field and at weekends is home to Shelton Athletic FC, a somewhat nomadic youth team originally based in Surrey. I assume they still play here anyway, because their website went very quiet last year which may explain the pile of soccer detritus in that skip. Thankfully most of the 100 acres of grass alongside Purley Way is fully accessible, and at this time of year the unmown part brims with brightly-coloured wildflowers and is absolutely glorious.

I weaved my way in through a patch of woodland at the end of Overhill Road where the edge of the constituency is marked by a 19th century Croydon Parish boundary post and a 21st century anti-motorbike barrier. In this remotest corner of Croydon West I found a carpet of buzzy clover, a pile of unwanted fence panels and my first two constituents... although they were two shaggy ponies and they didn't have a vote. From up here the horizon is expansive and dominated by the skyscrapers of central Croydon, but also visible is the distant upthrust of Nine Elms and the City cluster of silver spires. Only two of the dozens of public pitches were occupied during my visit, however, and the general ambience from the changing rooms and pavilions reeked of municipal abandonment.

You have to walk half a mile to find the constituency's first substantial building and that's a derelict warehouse. Next comes Costco (where non-skint constituents were queueing out of the door for bargains), then a TGI Fridays (which is probably what Sir Keir was thinking after the election). This being a Labour constituency there's culture in the form of the museum at the former Croydon airport terminal (open today, but all sold out) and also a bustling leisure park where these days the 'entertainment' is mostly food. Only when you reach Waddon Way do the suburban streets with actual electors begin, their first flank noticeably less prosperous than in the other two constituencies surrounding the triple point, which by now is a full mile distant.
Croydon South
Chris Philp [Con] 19,757 (40%)
Ben Taylor [Lab] 17,444 (35%)
Richard Howard [Lib Dem] 4,384 (9%)
This constituency is well named, stretching south from South Croydon to Old Coulsdon at the southern tip of the borough. It includes the entire town of Purley and all its hilly fingers, a switchback of leafy avenues lightly lined by spacious detached houses. In the 1980s it was supposedly the home of Terry & June, the perfectly-pitched suburban sitcom couple (although all the exterior filming took place a few miles away in the constituency I'm writing about next). Up by the triple-point the avenues are particularly broad, especially out towards Woodcote, and the parish church has the dosh to display its name in neon. This is such quintessentially Tory territory that one £2m pile has both a Landrover Discovery and a Conservative election poster out front, one displayed less shamelessly than the other.

Education round here is dominated by private schools - so much so that all the little roadside adverts planted on roundabouts and verges feature smiling prep school pupils in impeccably smart uniforms. Even the nearest faith schools look private, locked away in a huge woody enclave at the top of Russell Hill. This is a street which undergoes a wild transformation from top to bottom, first big villas then an increasing number of building sites on their former footprints cramming in hundreds of highrise vernacular flats. The final crescent was massively upgraded when Purley Way was built, feeding Brighton-bound traffic past a Mock Tudor parade which even now caters for important right-wing needs by including a fireplace showroom, an Argentinian steakhouse and a Wetherspoons.

To see Conservative policies in action we need go no further than the gyratory island at Purley Cross. The local Baptist church worked out it could it make a tidy sum by shifting slightly and getting itself replaced by 220 flats (first phase affordable, second phase not), a scheme which will peak with a 17 storey 'landmark' tower. Meanwhile the library nextdoor limps on in a Grade II listed building that's seen better days and, amazingly for a town the size of Purley, now only opens two days a week. Ostensibly this is the fault of Croydon's multiply-bankrupt council and the Labour administration's budget mismanagement, but the ultimately source of the problem was a relentless funding squeeze by central government. Croydon South's constituents got what they voted for.
Carshalton and Wallington
Bobby Dean [Lib Dem] 20,126 (43%)
Elliot Colburn [Con] 12,221 (26%)
Hersh Thaker [Lab] 6,108 (13%)
We switch boroughs for this third constituency, this being the eastern half of Sutton. It seems amazing that you can cross a hedge and suddenly find yourself in a safe Lib Dem constituency, but it only looks safe this weekend after three decades as a blue/orange marginal. At its eastern tip it's just as stockbroker belt as the adjacent Croydon avenues, kicking off by the triple point with the aforementioned private Overhill Road. This short road starts with a chain and a warning not to park here, and ends with a gauche mini-fortress with a veranda and space to park six cars, which its owner has self-consciously decided to name Dream Villa. You can tell cars are important round here because even the adverts for Purley Dental Practice don't mention how good they are with teeth, only that We Have Excellent Parking Facilities.

Find your way out past the school playing fields and you'll reach Roundshaw Downs, 90 acres of chalk grassland which again are currently a riot of long grasses and wild flowers. That's because they form a contiguous greenspace with the recreation ground in my first constituency with the Croydon/Sutton boundary running semi-imperceptibly between the two. And the sprawling similarity is because all this used to be the site of Croydon Aerodrome, later the first London Airport, which since the shift to Heath Row has been almost entirely erased apart from a few patches of apron. How typical of a Lib Dem stronghold that the heart of a carbon-belching planet killer should have been replaced by a wildlife haven ideal for walking the dog, several decades before anyone realised there was a problem.

On the far side is the Roundshaw Estate, a salutary reminder that not everyone round here lives comfortably. It was built in the late 1960s across the western tips of the two ex-runways and comprised well over 1000 council houses along streets and cul-de-sacs given suitably aeronautic names. Unfortunately the layout wasn't great and concrete cancer proved intractable so most of the flats and maisonettes have been substantially upgraded or entirely replaced. It must be better now because I spotted an Audi TT Coupé parked outside a fairly lowly end terrace on Brabazon Avenue and a few semi-smart dads cheering on their footballing offspring from Lindbergh Avenue. But this likely isn't the most Lib Dem patch of Carshalton and Wallington, indeed no constituency is a uniform stereotypical easily-generalised district, it all depends which way you look... as this lone triple point in south London confirms.

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my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

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diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards