A pod of whales

The only point of interest is Stockwell bus garage described by Will Self as “a pod of whales, a concrete Leviathan, frozen in mid arch as they swim through the rather choppy brick sea of south London” . . . . . . . . . . .

Exclusively for Patrons, here is List 17: Run 265 the next ‘run’ from my travelogue Pootling around London: Manor House to Gibson Square, again I hope you find it both amusing and informative.

Thank You again for your support.

Moorfields Eye Hospital EC1 to Lansdowne Way SW8

Anyone who has attended Moorfields Eye Hospital would say the entrance is on City Road, in fact, the address is 162 City Road. That’s not good enough for the pedants at the Carriage Office. Because the doors are angled the Carriage Office’s official starting point is Cayton Street a virtual alley running down the side of the hospital. So in Knowledge parlance, our run today starts as: leave on right Cayton Street; right City Road; comply Old Street Roundabout; leave by Old Street.

With that small caveat I have rather an affection for Moorfields, on Monday 12th February 1996 I picked up my first fare at Barts Hospital, a nurse who needed to go to Moorfields.

There is a tradition among London’s Black Cabbies, as a ‘butterboy’, when you first qualify to ply London’s streets your first fare is given gratis. This certainly helped me as I had forgotten to turn on the meter!

Back to today’s run, after ‘complying’ Old Street Roundabout, soon to become famous for the influx of software engineers and given the moniker of ‘silicone triangle’, I travel down Old Street, this Roman road was the thoroughfare from Aldgate to the north-east part of England, before Bishopsgate was built.

Using my now time-honoured method of remembering a run by observing something at the point of changing direction, I note a primrose-coloured Victorian pub on the opposite corner of the Old Street/ Goswell Road junction. This distinctive hostelry would close in 1990, reopening for a brief spell in 2006 as an upmarket restaurant. Today it’s still there, seemingly empty, but well maintained, the exterior showing no sign of weathering. Rumour has it that this classic Victorian boozer earns its keep as a film location, whatever the truth it makes for an excellent aide-memoire when recalling the run.

I turn left into Goswell Road and ride down the aforementioned Aldersgate, through the one-way system by St. Paul’s and into New Change. Having been destroyed by bombing in 1941 Old Change was changed to New Change one wonders just how many committee meetings were necessary to rename this short thoroughfare.

Turning right into St. Paul’s Churchyard – the road, not the graveyard – I ride forward to Ludgate Hill and down to New Bridge Street. This leads me to the now not so new Blackfriars Bridge. Opened in 1869 by Queen Victoria to the accompaniment of hissing during her journey there, by now she had become a very unpopular Queen. A rather novel use of this bridge was employed by Robert Calvi (or his assassins), found hanged beneath the arches in June 1982.

Shortly after entering the realms of ‘South of The River’ I arrive at the junction with The Cut. The Ring public house is on the opposite corner, this sporting boozer takes its name from the Surrey Chapel, renamed ‘The Ring’ by former British Lightweight Champion, Dick Burge, the venue was one of the first in London to permanently stage boxing bouts, until a bomb in 1940 brought about its demise.

The location of the original Ring is now occupied by Transport for London’s Palestra House, and now the location where Knowledge students are subjected to their regular Appearances. The building is appropriately named since a ‘palestra’ was in ancient Greece and Rome a public place devoted to the training of wrestlers and other athletes, and you’d need plenty of training to undertake The Knowledge.

Turning right into The Cut, appropriately named as this little cut-through circumvents the busy Waterloo Station. Heading now through Kennington, this run has one last surprise.

Soon after joining Clapham Road I turn right into – Albert Square. The name made famous by the BBC East End soap, and here is its namesake in gentrified South London.

This elegant Victorian Garden Square was once where the famous Tradescants, the 17th-century pioneer collectors of plants from around the world, lived and gardened.

I would also later find out this square has another secret. Today one of its residents is a famous comedy actress, who used the rooms in her house to describe certain points in her eclectic life, from a beautiful 1960s model, a character in one of the best-loved comedies to a political activist.

This eponymous square is not the template for the BBC’s soap, nor is East London’s Albert Square, which is not far from Stratford. With its boxy terraced houses, grey brick and prominent windows arranged around a rectangular garden whose staunch black railings create an enclosed space of bushes, paths and benches, Fassett Square is said to be the inspiration for Eastenders.

After leaving Albert Square the destination of this run has one last secret. The only point of interest on Lansdowne Way is Stockwell bus garage which was described by author Will Self as “a pod of whales, a concrete Leviathan, frozen in mid arch as they swim through the rather choppy brick sea of south London”. So how is it that the overnight parking space for 200 buses is so admired and has been given Grade II* listing?

Opened in 1952, its 410-feet long roof structure formed of ten, extremely shallow ‘two-hinged’ arched ribs covering 73,350 square feet, was Europe’s largest unsupported roof span at the time of construction.

The Method of Loci
Another aide-memoire discussed in The Knowledge train your brain like a cabbie by Robert Lordan is the ‘Method of Loci’ (loci being Latin for ‘locations’). You might like to try it yourself, it involves envisioning objects as they appear along a set line. The most obvious would be recalling the order in which shops are located on your high street. Once satisfied with this method you can progress to the ‘Memory Palace’, made famous in recent years by the BBC adaption of Sherlock.

Here you devise a building within your mind and placing objects representing the aspects you wish to recall, be it furniture, a painting or person.

This memory method would work well with this run.

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