From superhighway to mini-Holland to liveable neighbourhood

Councillor Richard Hudson is Chairman of the Development Control Committee at Kingston Council. His comment, “It is very good news that a site that has been derelict for decades can be regenerated, and two listed buildings on the “at risk” register will be reborn” appears on the Ashdown Road, Royal Exchange, Kingston page of the jtp website. One of the buildings is the Old Head Post Office; the other is the former Kingston Telephone Exchange.

Kingston Head Post Office was designed by Robert Richardson in what Historic England terms “good purpose-built Gothic” in 1875 for a prominent civic corner in Kingston. Richardson was also responsible for designing the Post Offices at Putney, Chester, and (it’s believed) Shrewsbury.

Shortly after it was opened it was extended to accommodate a large Parcel Post Sorting Office. In 1908 a large purpose built Telephone Exchange was built on an adjacent site, designed by John Rutherford in the Arts and Crafts style.

Historic England notes:

“…Grimsby Post Office, by John Rutherford of HM Office of Works, might equally have been at home in London as in the Lincolnshire town…Rutherford seems to have been especially active at this period, designing similarly sober designs for Twickenham (1908), Torquay (1909) and St Helier, Jersey (1910).”.

The MFA website tells us:

“In 1984, the former Telephone Exchange was closed and sold to private developers, followed by the main Post Office in 1995…

Following acquisition of the site by St George PLC in May 2014, Malcolm Fryer Architects were appointed through competitive interview to explore options for the adaptive re-use of both buildings as part of a wider mixed use master plan by John Thompson and Partners.”.

The last item to appear on jtp’s “Royal Exchange, Kingston” page, under Project Delivery, is “Sustainable transport strategy integrated with Kingston council’s proposed “Mini-Holland” cycling initiative.”.

And it’s true – although Peter Walker, author of Bike Nation: how cycling can save the world, wrote on 26/6/18 that:

“Dr Will Norman, who is in charge of cycling and walking under London’s current mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the mini-Hollands programme – now rebranded Liveable Neighbourhoods – had proved its worth,”

the Kingston Cycling Campaign still has a page headed Mini-Holland:

“Kingston Council have won funding of £30m from Transport for London to improve cycling infrastructure in the Borough. This is a once in a generation opportunity to provide safe cycling routes in our already pleasant Borough making it even better! The money must be spent wisely on truly protected space.”.

Will Norman joined local children to open the route on Saturday 13th July. Following a local campaign the route, from New Malden to Raynes Park, features separate walking and bike paths and has been given the designation Cycleway 31.

“Cycleway” is Transport for London’s new designation for cycle routes across London that meet their quality criteria. The branding replaces the previous Quietways and Cycle Superhighways names. This route is one of Kingston Council’s new Go Cycle or “MiniHolland” routes which are being funded by TfL and delivered by the Council.

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