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Camberwell Garage
Walworth (Camberwell) Garage

Date added to site
05/07/2020

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Details: You can now explore locations without leaving home, thanks to the amazing tools provided by Google. Using a combination of Streetview and Maps (including the brilliant 3D function, which was used to capture the image shown here), along with the 'Roll-back' feature in Google Earth (to view comparable historical images), you can see almost as much of a place as you could by actually going there. The image shown here includes both Camberwell and Walworth bus garages and, since there were quite a lot of points I wanted to cover, I have added lettered circles for certain aspects.

I grew up a few miles from this location, and I was familiar with the two garages. At the time, it never occurred to me that it was rather odd for London Transport to have two bus garages almost across the road from each other. Camberwell is one of the biggest garages in London, with a current allocation of about 250 buses. You would not realise this from passing it though, as the garage has only a small frontage on Camberwell New Road (point A), and just a small part of the interior can be seen from there. There are two slightly larger entrances at the bottom of Warner Road, but these have been out of use for many years, with the doors closed and cars parked in front of them. Further up Warner Road are the garage offices (head office of the London Central bus company until it was merged with London General), then a section of the garage that has large windows (point B). These are rather high up, and I have a recollection of standing on the crossbar of my dad's bicycle to try and see newly delivered Titan buses inside in about 1982. The area below the windows is now fenced off.

Continuing up Warner Road, you come to a large open yard (point C), although this is a relatively new feature. The garage had been extended in 1951 with the opening of a new 'dock unit' for bus maintenance, separated from the main garage by a wide roadway running between Warner Road and Camberwell Station Road. The dock unit was demolished in about 2009, having been replaced by a new engineering section (q.v.), and the space was given over to bus parking. Point D has been added to highlight a very small rectangular extension to the yard. Nestling in the corner of the adjoining new-build flats is a parking space too small for a bus. This seems to be home to one of the driver assessment minibuses.

The road from this point back down to Camberwell New Road is called Camberwell Station Road, which begs the question as to where Camberwell Station actually is! The railway lines visible are the ones between Loughborough Junction and Elephant and Castle, now busy with the intensive Thameslink service. A station here was built when the line opened in 1862, but it was closed as early as 1916. Its location can be discerned by the widened gap between the two pairs of tracks, this being where the island platform was. The station building is in fact still present, between the two trees just above point C, though it has been considerably adapted for subsequent uses. There have been calls in recent years for a new station to be provided to serve Camberwell, but nothing has come of this as yet.

The building marked F is not in fact part of the garage. This is a Royal Mail delivery office, with a vehicle yard on one side and a small car park on the other. Continuing back down Camberwell Station Road, you will come to Station Terrace, a stubby little road just 20 or so metres long. In the view above it is hidden by the tree in the gap in the houses opposite the diagonal railway overbridge. Station Terrace used to lead to a large triangular yard (at the location of point E), which was used for staff car parking and also sometimes for buses. When the dock unit was demolished in about 2009, it was replaced by a new extension to the main garage, this being the large building at point E. A small yard has been retained, which includes a narrow extension around the side of the new building. Three bus-sized doorways give access to the new engineering building (as seen in the background of this 2018 photo), although it is presumed there is also vehicle access from within the original garage building. By the way, there was an open day at Camberwell garage in 2015 but I seem to recall that much of the garage interior was out of bounds to visitors. Finally we come back to Camberwell New Road at point I, although that is an item on the next part of this itinerary!

The garage currently known as Walworth started out as Camberwell Tram Depot, and was of a curious layout, with two sheds (each with a traverser) set at about 30 degrees angle to each other, and with access to Camberwell New Road and Camberwell Road respectively, although a curiously snaking connecting track was built at some point, while a substation was situated between the two sheds. With the run-down of trams in London, a replacement bus garage was planned. The trams finished in October 1951, though construction of the new bus garage was not completed until 1954, buses having been parked on nearby spare land for a while.

The new garage featured a single main shed, retaining access from both sides. That from Camberwell Road was treated as the entrance, and still featured the dog-leg turn of the tram depot (point G). A small pits area was included (point H), most heavy maintenance being undertaken over the road at Camberwell Garage. The road on this side of the garage is Medlar Street, and there is in fact an access point into the garage just above point H. This appears to have originally had a bus-sized doorway, though it has more recently been reduced to just a pedestrian doorway. There is a tiny yard between the two angled buildings, and some vans have been seen parked here on Google Streetview. Signs on the fence of this yard suggest it is part of the garage property, but it is not known if the vans were service vehicles.

Vehicles leave Walworth garage by the roadway onto Camberwell New Road (point I), this originally having been flanked by two garage office blocks. The building adjacent to the railway viaduct was demolished some years ago and the space given over to bus parking (including use of the viaduct arches). Walworth garage was closed by London Transport in 1985, although it was soon returned to use by various other operators. This caption is getting too long to cover this aspect in detail so I will conclude by saying that Walworth is currently operated by Abellio and is now home to a batch of Caetano e.City Gold electric single-deck buses for use on routes C10 and P5.

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