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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
33 - Stockwell United's success, the Arsenal Co-op, but no Hop Back Summer Lightning
I leave the park along Priory Grove, a road lined with some, no-doubt desirable, properties: Georgian cottages with gables and porch stonework, and the elaborate building of the Victorian Priory Grove School, now residential flats. Also along here, though, are the Oasis Adventure Playground and a kart track in the old school playground. The track is laid out with barriers made of tyres painted blue and pink.
It's worth noting that, in June 2002, the Stockwell Urban II Community Initiative - or 'Stockwell United' as locals like to call it was launched here, at the Oasis Playground. This is a European Union initiative providing £12 million for regeneration schemes focusing largely on the Larkhall and Stockwell wards of Lambeth. The programme is run by a local board comprising Stockwell residents. It can approve projects valued at under £100,000 but needs a green light from the Government Office for London, which oversees the programme, for larger schemes. Projects in the pipeline include £134,000 to the Oasis venture itself; £900,000 towards the Wandsworth Road Safety scheme (including improvements to the entrance to Larkhall Park): and £29,000 towards the cost of developing a comprehensive and costed regeneration Action Plan for Larkhall Park.
South London real ale drinkers will be familiar with the Priory Arms, at the junction of Priory Grove and Lansdowne Way. It stocks 'a constantly changing selection of ales from microbreweries', and has won the Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) award for best pub in South West London every other year since 1992. I turn left past the Priory Arms (unfortunately it's too early in the day for a jar of Hop Back Summer Lightning) along Lansdowne Way. If I were to step eastward along Lansdowne Way, I could experience what Nikolaus Pevsner, in his well-known Buildings of England series of books, says is 'three competing essays in concrete': a bus garage, a community centre and a tower block. A Friends Reunited participant remembers a delightful story about her young days in Lansdowne Way. She lived in a big Victorian house (long since demolished) across from the back of the bus station. There were two concrete lions outside the front door, but her mother sold them to the window cleaner and told the landlord they had been stolen! What irony, she says, 'we were so poor but had to have clean windows. How things have changed.'
I turn right into Allan Edwards Drive, a road which, as a result of council building, has swung from pointing northwest less than half a century ago to north by northeast now. It takes me through the centre of the Lansdowne Green Estate with its pleasant looking blocks of flats - Cornwallis, Sudbury, and Summoner Courts for example - all with their ground floor external walls patterned or red brick and thus contrasted against the bulk of the buildings' elevations which are of light yellow brick. In 1998, Lambeth transferred the 681 homes on this estate (along with grants totalling over £20m) to the South London Family Housing Association. The association converted to SLFHA Ltd and became part of the Horizon Group which manages more than 10,000 homes in London and Surrey. There are strips of lawn around each building, but none big enough to swing a cricket bat.
Camellia Street brings me out to the Wandsworth Road right by a building
which once belonged to the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society Ltd (motto:
'Each for All and All for Each'). The Society transferred to the Co-operative
Wholesale Society in 1985. The building is now occupied by the Lambeth Housing
Neighbourhood Office; but I don't a believe a large sign that says 'Community
Hall' since no events past or future are advertised anywhere on the building
doors or walls.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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