Kingston Road stretches from South Wimbledon tube stop all the way to Raynes Park station (about 1 1/2 miles). Its one of those funny roads that are horrible to find if you don’t know the area: you have to make a left turn at traffic lights in order to stay on it and then as you get towards the station at Raynes Park it turns into Approach Road. We live at the Raynes Park end. Further down, the street is mainly Edwardian terraces and Blay houses but after our row, the terraces are old Victorian buildings with shops below and flats perched above (many of the shops are now offices). On the opposite side from us are some low 1930’s factory buildings, one of which is just now being prepared for demolition. Now that we are leaving, I find myself feeling nostalgic as I walk along the road: I don’t think its just because we will not be here for much longer. I get the feeling that Kingston Road itself with its eclectic mix of shops, cafes, bizarre small businesses and ‘light industry’ will not survive. So, just for the record, here is my list of places to remember on Kingston Road:
Cunninghams – a builders’ merchant where you can buy any size or shape of screw or hook or nail as long as you ask for it in imperial measurements. Mr Cunningham does not do metric which he regards as something imposed on us by the French, around the time of Napoleon (at least, I think thats what he told me when I asked for 60cm of dowling rod). Every morning, he moves his display of goods out of the shop onto the pavement under a red striped awning and every evening he packs them away.
Wells Motors – the garage that we have used for all repairs to our car while we have lived here, housed in a low shed with a a folding glass and wooden front that opens right up. In winter, when the lights are on and you can see men in dungarees working on cars, it could be a scene from a Edward Hopper painting.
Mr Patel, the newsagent – he came here from Kenya and reuses, with a smile, any plastic bags you hand in
Cocum – winner of the best Indian restaurant in London, a little green place making authentic Keralan cuisine
Spink and Son – one of the factories on the other side of the road, with a name straight out of Dickens. No-one knows what they actually do
Terry Gregory, Metal Fabrications – love the name, so close to ‘mental fabrications’, you know, such stuff as dreams are made of
The Upholstery Shop – the whole shop is stacked with old chairs from floor to ceiling. It seems to open once a year.
The Stainless Steel Fasteners and Fixings Company – does what it says on the tin (presumably)
Spanair – a shop that looks like a front for some illegal operation but in reality is, I think, a air cargo shipping company
Enough already – and I haven’t even mentioned The Red Rose Takeaway, the House of Spice or The Cinnamon Tree; Jalapenos and Coriander, or the sushi place; Cafe Rossano or the Kings Cafe. I haven’t got time to write about Palladium Pictures or Universal Flooring; our Dentist, Results Health and Fitness or the little dogs that frequent Top Dog Grooming; I won’t say anything about Lighter Life, Zest Financial Consultants or Sunbed City. I’ll leave for later the the Apostles Bar (for the young and upwardly mobile) and the Junction Tavern (for the old and back-sliding) and the three churches (the Shofar Christian Church, Dundonald Church and the Kingston Episcopal Office for the Southwark Diocese).
I hope I’ve not given the impression that Kingston Road is fashionably unfashionable. Cool it is not and never will be. But, as we have discovered in the last three years, you can find pretty much everything you need for health and happiness here.