Today was to be a windmills ride but this was changed and so we all gathered for a Blue Plaque Ride instead.
In the late spring we identified 4 rides visiting some of the boroughs Blue Plaque sites. We were able to do 2 of them but the other 2 were not used but remained in the library for a future occasion and today we had the opportunity to try out one of the rides.
Nine riders gathered at Norman Park we were pleased to welcome first timer Catherine and some of our regulars too. It’s always very pleasing to welcome Jenny, Julie and Graham on our rides; they are great supporters.
After some introductions Spencer, our leader today, informed us that the first blue plaque we would be visiting was at for Richmal Crompton. We were all eager to display our local knowledge and we were agreed that Richmal was the author of the ‘William’ books which some of us had read as children. They are wonderful books and if you haven’t read them then I thoroughly recommend them, even for adults. They were recently turned into a BBC TV series which was very good too. We set off on the A21; initially on the shared pavement towards Bromley town centre. We crossed at the zebra crossing and turned back towards Bromley Common, once again sticking to the shared path.
Spencer soon pointed out the difference between the northbound journey and that to the south. Southbound the route is constantly interrupted by junctions joining the main road. It is for cyclists to give way at each of these junctions – 8 in total; bad enough checking to the left for traffic expecting to give way, but far more problematic is the constant checking back over the right shoulder for southbound vehicles trying to turn left off the main road. Not very satisfactory.
Once past the Crown we joined a newer segregated cycling track which was much better. It is still under construction so I think it will be much better still when it is finished.
We threaded our way through the paths around the playing fields at Princess Plain and then crossed over into Oakley Road where we found the first of our Blue Plaques on a house called the Glebe. We paused long enough for a photo call and for Spencer to tell us the remaining historical facts about Mrs Crompton and her literary hero William, and then we were off again.
We were now heading to Hayes Street and the home of William Wilberforce an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. On arrival at No 25 we were unable to locate the plaque, indeed the house next door looked a much more likely setting for the home of this famous borough resident, but there was no plaque there either; we moved on.
We followed a most intriguing route to Westmoreland Road and backing onto the small park we located No 1 South Hill Road home to Sir Thomas Dewey a philanthropist, a supporter of a wide range of local initiatives, groups and sports teams; he established pensions for nurses. Once again Spencer gave us an informative introduction.
Off again in back streets to the Chinese roundabout where we visited the very popular Sponge Kitchen for a well-earned cup of tea and a snack. We sat outside chatting and it was here we learned that our rider Catherine had found us through her friend in CALIFORNIA – well I knew we were international but not that global.
After the break we headed to No 35 Stanley Avenue, Beckenham once home to Ewan MacColl an English folk singer, songwriter, communist, labour activist, actor, poet, playwright, and record producer (and still home to his widow Peggy Seeger). Once more spencer had the interesting facts to hand and we learned about Ewan and his daughter Kirsy McColl.
What local blue plaque ride in this area could not visit the home of local celebrity (of her day) Enid Blyton. We made our way to the cottage opposite Shortlands Station and huddled on the pavement as traffic roared past us peering through the bushes to espy the blue plaque here. It was either so well concealed as to be invisible or missing.
And so it was time to return to Norman Park along the quietways; we arrived at 1 o’clock said our good-byes and all headed off to our homes for a well-deserved Sunday lunch.
Thanks to Spencer for a most informative and interesting tour of our borough.
Time out: 3:00:00
Av speed: 8.4
Unfortunately no pictures today as the website is misbehaving and won’t let me upload them 🙁