|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||1.4 miles (2.3 km)|
|Route outline (key)|
The B242 is a relatively short B-road in south London. The road was unclassified in 1922 but the exact date it came into being is unknown – this was before the mid-1940s but could have been as early as the late 1920s.
Beginning at the affluent and compact shopping district of Balham, the B242 heads south from a signalised crossroads on the A24 down what any local would call the side of Sainsbury's. The supermarket owns the enormous car park that sits incongruously on the west side of the road shortly afterwards, where surely there ought to be a twee market selling organic vegetables and tofu and sandals and some sort of Mongolian prayer beads. Instead this area, on a prime site opposite trendy cafés and next to the railway station, is a big open car park. How odd.
The road passes under the railway through an extremely narrow bridge – the footpaths go through separately on either side so it really is claustrophobic – and begins a gentle uphill climb on Bedford Hill. There are big Victorian houses up one side, now mainly converted to doctors' surgeries, care homes, blocks of a dozen flats, and so on. The other side has a mix of flats and council houses, but this is Balham and even the concrete-and-brick local authority blocks look rather attractive round here.
As the road begins to descend a little, the buildings on either side suddenly stop and we're among trees, turning to the left on Tooting Bec Common. The road rises over a hump-back railway bridge: "Welcome to Lambeth. CCTV in operation."
At the other side there are big houses to our left again, and to the right is a pleasant patch of the common long-since isolated from the rest by the London to Brighton railway. We hug the edge now, turning sharply to the right onto Garrad's Road to follow the east side of the common. This last section is ruler-straight and now a 20 mph zone, complete with speed bumps, despite being developed only on one side.