Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Number 22 Route

27 July 2009 Slight (or, as we seasoned bus travellers like to say, refreshing) rain today when Linda and I met just a step along Piccadilly at the Number 22 start. It was all very posh, as we passed Fortnums, de Beers and the Ritz. We were held up for some minutes by an Addison Lee minicab (LT57HNX so you can all avoid him) in the junction box that crosses the bus lane. Where are the police? The cameras?

Around Hyde Park Corner, and I assured Linda I would not mention the war memorials, and then past the ugly Park Tower Hotel and Casino and onto Sloane Street, enjoying a glimpse of attractive, if private, Cadogan Square with its David Wynne sculpture, ‘Dancer with Birds’ This was the first of many private square gardens glimpsed on this journey through posh London. And we do mean posh: Sloane Square has Tiffany and Cartier next door to each other; Linda thought that the streets were not busy because customers arrive by appointment and in taxis!

The Chelsea Potter was one of the few pubs we passed, but we were impressed by the Methodist Church’s mosaics, and the frontage of Chelsea Old Town Hall, where Andrew and I once heard Matt Hunt play.
After last week’s dearth, we saw a Blue Plaque for Sir Carol Reed in Argyll Street, but it’s not an English Heritage Plaque
The winding New King’s Road showed clear evidence of its former ‘country lane’ status, and we were glad we were not on a bendy bus. Then it was on down the Fulham Palace Road, and over Putney Bridge, to turn right along the Embankment past what we thought was a rather ill-judged Thai Square Restaurant. Passing Will’s Art Warehouse we reached Putney Common at just after 11.00, having again taken the time specified on the timetable

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Number 21 Route

Tuesday 21 July 2009 A slightly shaky start, as Jo only woke at 08.30, having contracted to meet Linda at Lewisham at 10.00. But the marvels of London transport meant there was time for a quick cup of coffee at London Bridge before catching the first free train and arriving before 10.00 to meet Linda.

We are not particularly used to rain, but it was light and intermittent, and makes a change.
The 21 was a bit less punctual than us, but we were off before 10 past 10. We passed the great building site where the parents of Lewisham Bridge School have been mounting their rooftop protest against demolition and two years of pupils being bussed to New Cross. There are many websites about this, all deeply political!
The Deptford Memorial Gardens were more pleasing and we were soon passing Goldsmiths as well as Deptford Town Hall with its impressive statues. Southwark has detailed air monitoring and had put up a big notice to tell us so.

We passed the Everlasting Arms Mission, ‘setting the captives free’ and the Dun Cow Doctors’ Surgery, up the newly resurfaced Great Dover Road and up Borough High Street, where there were strange blue men climbing the wall of Costa Coffee
The route goes over London Bridge, alongside James’ office and into the City of London, passing the Bank of England, and adding ‘Rush Hair’ to our collection of coiffeur names, and the Barbican, with some very good flowers in Finsbury Square. We turned right off the City Road just before Moorfield’s Eye Hospital heading up the New North Road and over the Regent’s Canal twice before reaching Newington Green.

We don’t usually approve of places where only one bus starts or stops, but this was a pleasant patch of grass with some information boards and seats for people consulting their A to Z about how to reach the 393 bus stop. (There was also a loo)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Number 20 Route

Walthamstow Bus Station to Debden Monday June 13th 2009

Though technically our next bus, this journey was actually the second stage of a mammoth 6½ hour 5 bus marathon, which in fact only took us round a small area of North East London!

It was pleasant and warm and Walthamstow Bus and Tube station seemed modern, salubrious looking but with somewhat smelly conveniences. . The Number 20 was a bit of a puzzle as it is a very low number that frequents the very fringes of London, usually known as Essex. My research thus far indicates the Number 20 has been ploughing slightly different furrows out here since at least 1950, but I have yet to discover where it first started. [STOP PRESS! a historian at http://www.busesatwork.co.uk/ informs me it previously went from Kingston to Guildford!!] Our first two stages having taken a while we only boarded at 12.25 and wondered whether this double decker had been cleaned after the weekend as there were three Red Bull cans rolling around and the windows were very smeary, as you will see from some of the photos.

Walthamstow is in East 17 and there was a lot of it today – old high streets with the usual mixture of eating places and beauty parlours and charity shops – one for the Kashmir International Relief Fund set up following the earthquakes. This was a variant on the usual charities. This bit of London seems to like punning shop fronts; especially for its hair salons but we also noted Fu-nicha. It was also not a particularly busy bus at this point as there were up to eight alternatives along the main roads, that is Lea Bridge Road. Just before we hit a dual carriageway we noted the Lamb’s CafĂ© doing a brisk trade in all day outdoor breakfasts.
Close to crossing the North Circular you enter Epping Forest, which like several other large open spaces is in fact maintained by the Corporation of London – Jo tells me prior to the open spaces and countryside acts MPs only trusted the City to guard the green areas and clearly its wealth over the years has helped maintain open land and several ponds, if not very thick forest in and around Epping. St. Peter’s in the Forest church, though in fact only a Victorian era building, seemed charming with toppled tombstones in its graveyard, and shortly afterwards we crossed the North Circular Road, by the large and intimidating junction that is Waterworks corner.

Over a cattle grid and into the London Borough of Redbridge, along a route rich in schools and other social resources such as Haven House Children’s Hospice. That one of the schools should be private was not entirely surprising as we travelled through both Buckhurst Hill and Loughton, both keen to retain their villagy feel. Certainly there were old-fashioned ‘finger’ signposts, a row of little cottages though most building (as is usual outside the North Circular) was well post-war. There was even a village cricket ground and the ‘Gunmakers’ Arms’ indicates that this area would have been considered distant enough from dense habitation to permit arms manufacture.

En route we seemed to meet several Hackney dustcarts that must dump their contents somewhere in Essex and a random traffic warden wandering around in a field?

Uphill out of Loughton gave us some good views and we had a very thorough tour of Debden – an impressive range of housing: flats few, houses many and some bungalows all interspersed with large areas of green open space and a little river. However passing through may not be the same as living there – for a jaundiced local view see here. Debden is almost certainly the most uniquely undiverse (i.e. whites only) neighbourhood we had been through since starting the Project. There were schools too including the Davenant Foundation, which had moved out here from Whitechapel in 1965 because of falling numbers, and Thomas Willingale, named after someone who apparently wielded an axe in 1860 order to establish his right to lop/cut down trees in the Forest.

The bus brought us to the back of the very neat, if significantly less affluent than Loughton, Debden Broadway so that we could make our eventual 12-mile way back to London. The journey was closer to 50 minutes than the 40 promised but interesting nevertheless.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Number 19 Route

Monday 29 June 2009

And what a splendid route the 19 is. We met in warm sunshine at Battersea Bridge (South Side) and travelled enthralled all the way to Finsbury Park. Firstly we went over the bridge and through Chelsea, admiring the shops along the King’s Road and around Sloane Square. The designer of Catherine's wedding dress has a posh shop here.

Right at Knightsbridge Tube and along to Hyde Park Corner, Apsley House and the Wellington Arch
. Then along Piccadilly, passing the Ritz and a blue plaque for Palmerston and into Piccadilly Circus. None of us has yet visited Ripley's though we have all been to the Trocadero. Linda, especially, was pleased not to be going up Regent Street or Oxford Street, and we made rapid progress up the Charing Cross Road, and along Holborn, passing the Conway Hall. A brown LCC plaque to show that Benjamin Disraeli was born in Theobald’s Road seemed rather odd, especially since the Blue Plaque (English Heritage) website says it has one.

On northwards, as we passed Mount Pleasant sorting office, Sadlers Wells and over the Pentonville Road to enjoy Upper Street, Mary remembered her student past, and Jo remembered Kate’s wedding in Islington Town Hall. Highbury Grove School (‘building a better future for Islington’s young people’) is having major building works. When we think of the number of school building developments we have passed since we began this project, we can really appreciate where the government is putting our money.

The Finsbury Park Mosque did not look at all like the controversial place it has become, and then we were at the Arsenal shop, with glimpses of The Emirates. At least one of our followers won’t need the link to find the website. We reached Finsbury Park in 70 minutes, faster than the timetable says, and evidence of the benefits of avoiding the Strand and Oxford Street.