|From:||Denmark Hill (TQ325760)|
|Distance:||4 miles (6.4 km)|
|Meets:||A215, A2214, A205, A212|
|Old route now:||A205|
|Route outline (key)|
The A2216 is a winding A-road in south London.
It starts on the A215 by Denmark Hill station, one of several busy roads (the A2217 being the other main culprit) that disperses its traffic onto the busy A215 approaching Camberwell. This is a simple signalised T-junction a little way south of Camberwell itself, from which the A2216 runs east on a street named Champion Park, parallel to the railway line, for a short distance before turning smartly to the south along Grove Lane.
The road rises for a while until, at the crest of the hill, it widens to a dual carriageway. This is another of those strange, isolated sections of dual carriageway that turn up on hills in the London Borough of Southwark - there's another just to the west on the A215 and others dotted about nearby too. It looks rather like, at one time, perhaps in the 1950s and 1960s, the then-Camberwell Borough had the aspiration to provide dual carriageways on all its busy hills, or perhaps all its A-roads. It clearly didn't get far with the plan.
The dual carriageway is called Dog Kennel Hill, and rattles quickly down a steepish slope, with fairly handsome 1930s-era council flats of the type built by the former London County Council and found now all over London. On the west side is a big Sainsbury's, with a large signalised junction providing access to the car park.
At the bottom of the hill, the road narrows to single carriageway rather suddenly, diving under a very low railway bridge, which feels incredibly claustrophobic after the wide dual carriageway that brought us here. On the other side of the bridge, we're on a street amid Victorian suburbia and we enter East Dulwich. A couple of curves through the terraces bring us to a roundabout at Goose Green, a sliver of parkland that stretches away to the east. East Dulwich is a pleasant and affluent town centre arranged along the next length of the A2216, and for a little while to come we'll be passing any number of independent shops, gastropubs and cosy restaurants.
The roundabout marks the start of a short section where the A2214 runs concurrently with us. Away to the east of the roundabout, it heads for Peckham Rye and Nunhead, and then follows our route to the south before branching off west up one of a series of anonymous side-streets. From here, we are on Lordship Lane, a long street in South London's never-ending suburbia that carries us through a substantial length of Victorian suburbia. Eventually a set of traffic lights at The Grove (named after a pub on the corner, now closed down and boarded up) marks the arrival of the A205 South Circular Road. This enters from the right, having crossed Dulwich Common, and assumes the course of Lordship Lane by turning the corner. The A2216 number runs concurrently with the A205, unsigned, from here to Forest Hill.
The A2216 was, for a short while in the 1920s, the original number of this route, as the A205 was largely created using sections of existing roads. We follow it for nearly three-quarters of a mile (crossing from Southwark to the borough of Lewisham as we do), arriving at the main junction in the middle of Forest Hill, a set of traffic lights outside the station forecourt, where the A205 turns left and we turn right.
We head south once more, now roughly parallel to the mainline railway from London Bridge to East Croydon. This section of the route is tracing two sides of a triangle - from the A205 a side turning up the unclassified Sydenham Hill leads to Kirkdale, running in a straight line where the route of the A2216 takes a longer route. The reason for this is obscure but is likely to be either because, at classification in the early 1920s, the route via Forest Hill was busier because it passed through a town centre, or because Sydenham Hill is (as its name suggests) a significant and steep hill, while the route via Forest Hill is much gentler.
This section, named Dartmouth Road, comes to an end at a mini-roundabout on Kirkdale. The third side of the triangle turns right and we turn left, with the A2216 assuming the line of Kirkdale through the untidy outskirts of Sydenham. The road ends shortly afterwards when it arrives at a roundabout on the western end of Sydenham's main shopping street, where we meet the A212 and our work is done.