Group News
Freedom Pass Explorers • Leaders Christine Withams & Joy
In January, we took the number 91 bus from Charing Cross to the British
Library where we stopped for coffee. We passed through St Pancras
Station, which was a first visit for some of the group since it was renovated
some years back. Our visit was to explore the development of the King’s
Cross area. All the old train sheds, goods sheds and coal yards have
been incorporated into a residential, office and shopping area by this
section of the Regent’s Canal. Two gas holders have been converted into
luxury apartments at a selling price of £8 million each! It is an excellent
development of the old and new.

Not venturing far in February because of possible bad weather, we were
pleased it was relatively mild. Hampstead was our destination using the
number 24 bus from Trafalgar Square. It was a very slow journey due to
traffic and road works. The bus goes through Camden, of which you get a
very good view if you travel on the top deck. We were a large group so
had to split into two for our coffee stop. We passed beautiful houses as we
walked up Keats Grove, passing the poet Keats’s house. It was uphill all
the way so we only spent a little time around the shops as some of the
group were flagging. After lunch, we returned home via Hampstead

Christine Withams

Book ReadingLeader June Reid
As our group leader, June Reid, is unfortunately out of action at present
due to an injury to her back, I am writing the book group’s contribution to
the newsletter. This month, we read Small Island by Andrea Levy chosen
by myself. This is a charming book about a West Indian couple who were
part of the Windrush generation of immigrants to England. It is told
individually by the four main characters, and we felt that we were able to
empathise with all the characters, despite their different points of view.
There was some shocking content but also plenty of laughs, and it led to
some lively discussion regarding racism. We all agreed that we had
enjoyed it very much.

Best wishes go to June for a speedy recovery.

Linda Carrington

Local History 3 • Leader Christine Withams
Our February visit was to St Stephen’s Walbrook and the Mithras Temple.
St Stephen’s was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and Christopher
Wren was chosen for the rebuilding. By 1679, this lovely church was ready
for use.

We then visited the Roman Temple to the god Mithras under the
Bloomberg Building almost opposite Cannon Street Station. The ruins
were first discovered in 1954 and further excavations were made in 2010-
14 when over 600 objects were found.

Jean Duhig & Rosalie Woods

Ramblers 2 • Leader Helen Salmon
Our February ramble from London Bridge to Greenwich was chosen
assuming the weather would be cold and wet underfoot. How wrong we
were! Instead, we enjoyed beautiful blue skies and the hottest February
day in London since records began. We enjoyed our walk along the
Thames Path, stopping many times to admire the views and noting
building work still taking place along the riverside. The path goes ‘in and
out’ quite a bit so we also did some road walking and viewed some of the
old warehouses tastefully converted into housing. We walked through
Surrey Docks Farm and ‘talked’ to the animals and then past the parade
of bronze animals on Barnard’s Wharf. Our route was diverted inland at
Pepys Park in Deptford, and, as by then our energy was flagging, we
boarded a bus for the last mile and a half. It conveniently stopped outside
Wetherspoons so we were able to refresh and refuel ourselves before
catching the 286 back to Sidcup after a very pleasant walk.

Mary Webb

Pictures taken during this walk are available to view on the Gallery page.


Ramblers 3 • Leader Trevor Ford
Walk from Bethnal Green to Hackney Wick
The group met at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, which gave the
opportunity for some to partake of a coffee and others to mingle with the
screaming hordes (we luv them!) of primary school children who were
enjoying the delights of this wonderful outpost of the V&A. Setting off, we
skipped the memorial of the BG Tube disaster which we had seen
previously. Going through the museum gardens, we stopped at the Alice
Denman Fountain, our first link with early public water supply. Later, we
encountered the Burdett-Coutts fountain in Victoria Park East. With the
current hoo-ha about plastic bottles, there is a drive to reinstate water
fountains. In the west part of the park, we admired the huge cascade of a
non-drinking fountain which was lit up rainbow-fashion by the brilliant
sunshine hitting it at just the right angle. The “lungs” of East London, as
Vicky Park has been designated, are always a wonder and had some
great sights with everyone enjoying the sunshine. We waved to the Inn on
the Park, a previous lunch venue, and left the west park at Cadogan
Terrace by the stone alcoves (from London Bridge) and walked past some
excellent houses, including one owned by fashion designer, Alexander
McQueen. (No blue plaque yet?) At the end of the terrace is a plaque
which commemorates the first murder on a train. From there, we crossed
under the A12 into new territory and walked a short way along the
“Greenway” towards the Olympic Park walking on top of Bazalgette’s
sewers which are now being supplemented and upgraded by the Thames
Tideway. Some of us, including myself, were flagging a bit by then and
getting desperate for lunch so we turned back and went down steps into
Fish Island (Dace Road, Bream Street, Smeed Road, etc: you get the
idea). A brief detour took us to the lock keeper’s cottage on the River Lea
Navigation. We went back past the Stour Café and up over White Post
Lane to the White Building containing the Crate Brewery and Pizzeria
(lunch at last!) Hackney Wick Station was only just around the corner to
take us home.

Trevor Ford
Sidcup and District U3A