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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
30 - Lumpy custard, a Baker, a weathercock, an eagle and more of Charlie
I carry on north along King's Avenue, past modern flats, called King's Quarters, on the west and another section of the King's Avenue school, with a two-storey building that looks distinctly Scandinavian. This is a centre of excellence for visually-impaired children. The new and refurbished buildings now benefit from rooflights, low-level box windows which special child-height glimpses of the garden, and a special colour coding system to help children find their way. One playground is marked out for sports such as basketball, and another is covered in coloured squares and shapes for more informal games. The kids playing outside today are dressed in sweaters of sharp purple, a colour also used for the school's external signage. The playground is edged with well-maintained flower beds - forsythia and mahonia are about to bloom. A mobile library is parked within the school grounds. Ex-pupils from King's Acre (one of the two previous schools), decades ago, remember lumpy chocolate custard, a man who used to stand outside in the morning selling slabs of sticky treacle toffee for 2d, and a head who banned sweets to discourage the buying and bribing of those who couldn't afford them. They also remember 'Doctor Who' actor Tom Baker opening at least one fete.
Towards its north end, King's Avenue narrows and meets with Lyham Road at the Ellerslie Square Industrial Estate (modern yellow brick buildings) before a junction with Clapham Park Road, Acre Lane and Bedford Road. Right on the busy noisy corner of King's Avenue and Clapham Park Road (opposite a derelict factory building) is the late-Georgian Bedford Buildings, on which is carved the date 1822.
Crossing over Acre Lane and continuing north, still very close to the 300 easting, my route takes me along narrow Bedford Road. On my left I pass Ascot Court, a series of modern dark-red brick town houses hidden by a high wall (Bowlands Road Estate), and Haselrigge Road. There's a pretty row of three-storey terraced houses in Haselrigge Road, with mansard slate rooves and dormers. The end house, nearest Bedford Road, is particularly cute, with a weathercock-topped spire and square-shaped glass tower to the side. Further along this road is one of the schools that has now become conjoined with the new school on King's Avenue, and some of its playgrounds and buildings are being turned over for residential use. It's main building though, dates from 1893 and is grade II listed.
On my right are parades of Georgian-style and then Victorian terraces, and the Solon Estate with its 16-storey pentagonal Bedford House. Those with good vision or binoculars living on the west side of Bedford House high rise have an excellent view of three giant billboards lining Bedford Road, not in the most obvious of positions for pedestrians or drivers to notice. One tells me that Lockets would help clear my nose and soothe my throat, another shows a giant eagle flying above a much smaller Landrover, as though about to grab it with its fangs (a Discovery Pursuit costs only £24,995), and the third asks 'What's your game' and tells me that www.888.com is the world's no 1 online casino and poker room.
Further north, still on the east side of Bedford Road, is a Victorian
house built in 1882 with unusual details, a stone plaque stating '2 Ferndale',
an oriel above the front door in Ferndale Road, and, above that, a bas-relief
in the pediment. Ferndale Road may have been one of the many places that
Charlie Chaplin lived when young. His parents, both music hall performers,
had divorced when he was only five. Thereafter, while his mother was becoming
increasingly mentally unstable, his father succeeded as a pub landlord (and
alcoholic), so Charlie seems to have spent a lot of time on the streets
of Lambeth. While still very young, seven or so, and possibly while living
with his mother in Ferndale Road, he appeared as one of the urchins billed
as The Eight Lancashire Lads. Thereafter, he spent time in Fred Karno's
Fun Factory, in Brixton, where he worked with Stan Laurel.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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