Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Number 13 Route

Golders Green Bus garage to Aldwych Monday May 11th 2009

Glorious spring day with temperatures in the teens, again!

Our bus enthusiasm was slightly dulled by the slow ride at the end of the 12, but after a snack at John Lewis and a very fast Northern Line tube to Golders Green we did feel restored. We had a choice of three Number 13s. For Linda in particular this was something of a nostalgia trip, the 13 having been, since she was a little girl, the bus to the West End to do ‘shopping’ and then later her school bus.

The bus garage abuts the Golders Green Hippodrome, in its day a marvellous venue for pantos, theatre shows and even the ballet, later becoming BBC studios. Even from the top deck we could see the passengers came from a different demographic with many of East Asian origin. The bus kept a nifty speed along the Finchley Road through NW11, NW2, NW3 and NW8. ‘The Castle’ pub (could be nicer) sports a plaque saying it used to be a Tollgate – presumably for the roads in and out of London to the North, and indeed we passed the access to the M1 via the Hendon Way. There follows a stretch where there are several upmarket furniture and kitchen showrooms (Natuzzi and Poggenpohl); however, sign of the times – the Mercedes Benz showroom was empty…

South Hampstead High School was just about visible from the Finchley Road before we hit the wide stretch along past Swiss Cottage – Linda remembers the bombed out buildings that in the Sixties were finally replaced by rather bland blocks and what were two adjacent schools Quinton (Boys’ Grammar) and Kynaston (Boys Secondary Modern) They are both still ‘in situ’ and a long time ago were combined into a comprehensive, now trendily 'QK' on its website. Mary remembers the school as the venue for a conference where Tony Blair praised it as the future shape of education.

Past St John’s Wood are the two sites of the Wellington private Hospitals where Linda’s father had several admissions, a plaque to Oskar Kokoschka on the fine mansion blocks and onto Lords’, now boasting the rather strange pod.

The very handsome St John’s Church looked lovely in the sunshine, as did the glorious gardens of some huge mansions (surely no-one can own that much real estate in London?) astride the Regents canal, and then past the showpiece Regents Park Mosque. On to Baker Street where there is now a plaque at 22b (no such address) to placate tourists trying to locate the flat of Sherlock Holmes. Also looking somewhat spurious is the unofficial plaque to John Lennon – did he live there for 5 minutes?

The Lost Property Office still has a shop front on Baker Street – who knows we may need it yet by the time we get into higher numbers and poorer memories?? This stretch also has the headquarters of both the HG Wells and the Arnold Bennet societies. The bus sneaks up the side of Selfridges, which this year celebrates its centenary with fabulous colour coded windows displaying goods at the 1909, 1929 and 1931 prices…well worth a linger. Oxford Street will always be slow but we swept along Regent Street round Trafalgar Square and the Strand ( as we have already done on routes 10). The route said 35 minutes but probably 1.40 to 2.55 would be a better estimate.

1 comment:

  1. That would be 221b Baker Street - I must point out as an avid Sherlock Holmes fan. Jo sends greeting from hot and sunny tropical Darwin. 13 sounds positively chilly ;-)