Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Stanstead Road Walk

It is taking me too much time to write these walks up, so even if I'm only going on short walks (which I am not) they are accumulating faster than they are getting published. Thankfully I am taking pictures as my memory would have failed me ages ago.

On March 7th I had another doctor's appointment, so it was off down to Woolstone Road again with me. This time I thought I would get some more fresh air - it is what my lungs lack after all.

So, I decided to follow Stanstead Road to the border with Catford, then cut back to Woolstone Road. Most major roads in London are main thoroughfares not through design but accident, which means that they have probably been routes for centuries. Stanstead Road and the South Circular are no exception as I believe they follow the path of whatever routes existed through Forest Hill several hundred years ago.

The first part is well documented, although I did get an interesting photo of the Balm of Gilead Church (which I think was a Baptist Church in a former life). There are also some interesting little backstreet workshops and stores opposite the Fire Station. The builders next door have been here since my house was built, so the company must have done OK. The Fire Station itself is a paragon of modern minimalism, stripping itself of any architectural merit for the sake of practicality. It is a shame when you compare it to the old fire station on Perry Vale that something more interesting could not have been done with this.

Even before we pass Brockley Rise there are several interesting features. Victorian front porches, unusual characters above doorways on otherwise unremarkable houses, and, to top it all, London's second highest grossing traffic camera. This little 8%$£&^% has cost me money in the past, but it carefully monitors traffic on the bus lane here, so watch out!

When you finally make it across the junction, there are still some interesting private buildings, including the "Center for Photographic Conservation". Most of the road is as expected, but as you get near the final border of SE23 I noticed that some old style advertising had survived, right under the modern billboard. I wonder which was more effective? Shame more details have not survived.

The side road to the surgery (Carholme Road) is attractive, but unremarkable, as are most of the side roads around this part of Forest Hill. These are nice, but high density, terraced and semi-detached houses built by the developers in the late Victorian period. Not much to take a picture of.

On my return I thought I would take a little detour across Stanstead Road, checking out the construction on Hurstbourne Road on the way, to the middle of St. German's Road. If you come up Park Rise Rd you find a building called Embassy Court. I had noticed this before but have wondered for some time why "Embassy"? Any thoughts?

I headed back down the road, then across Stanstead again, up Colfe Road and Vestris Road to the new developments on Normanton St. I had mainly wanted to see what this part of the world was like (nice, well built houses as far as I can see), but the photogenic part was the new Methodist Church building. It has only recently been completed (3 or so years behind schedule I believe), but it is open now. It is a modern building, but it seems reasonably in keeping with the area as it has nice clean lines, and some weathered materials like rusted steel and wood. I am not a church-goer, but it would be interesting to see inside here at some stage.

The final leg was past Christ Church (watching men hang off the roof installing some roof windows), past Tudor Hall, down to Westbourne Drive and along to the shops. This takes you past the stunningly hideous BT Exchange Building on Waldram Park Road, and to the parade of shops on Perry Vale. These include a "gentlemen's hairdresser" that has been going continuously for almost 100 years. Not bad, and they're pretty good at cutting your hair too.

Enough for one more walk. Time to get shorn of the golden locks ("number 3 all over, please") and consider a nice lunch next door in the Westbourne Cafe (highly recommended).

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