Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Number 25 Route

Ilford Town Centre to Oxford Circus Monday March 23rd 2009

Now here was a bus worthy of its low number high status – a frequent, popular, busy and efficient service that took us (in an hour and a half) from the centre of Ilford looking lively and purposeful if not affluent straight into the heart of the city. Even mid-afternoon on a bendy bus there were people standing as the varied diverse populations of Manor Park and Forest Gate and Stratford got on and off – going down to the Whitechapel markets? Going to visit or attend the Royal London Hospital? We also passed both the University of East London and the big site for Queen Mary’s, and the students, with their phones, populated the bus also.

Interestingly Queen Mary's London, which under that name was actually founded in 1885 now cites its origins as from 1123 when St. Bartholomew’s (Bart’s hospital & medical school) was founded – how to age over 700 years in one fell swoop! However, there are different bits of the campus dotted all along this route.

We saw some fine local civic architecture in the now replaced but listed Carnegie library and the not quite defunct St. Clement’s Hospital. Interesting that some of the street signs should say Poplar rather than London Borough of Tower Hamlets or Hackney, harking back to London County Council days before 1965 (for an interesting website on London history see here) – not sure whether that was a reflection of local pride or not having enough money to re-do the street signs?

[You may wonder why I have failed to mention the Whitechapel Gallery founded 1901 in the spirit of bringing ART to the East End – well, although the spanking new extension has been well and truly opened by the time this journey is blogged. we actually travelled past it just a couple of weeks before the ceremony – but here is a link about the extension to show willing.]

As we crossed over the Lea we noticed the amount of buildings demolished from years back and the cranes in place – signs of the coming Olympics no doubt. Interestingly down towards Aldgate the wealth of the city has started to encroach outwards and east and the contrasts were then stark between what the early part of the trip had indicated (small, mainly Asian owned businesses) and then the Gherkin, which is very photogenic – not that we managed anything so good from a crowded bus – the Bank of England etc. The less said about banking the better. Cornhill, Cheapside and Holborn are much more accessible by bus than any other vehicle and though it was raining by now the Number 25 thoughtfully deposited us by the side entrance of John Lewis after an hour and a half of excellent entertainment.
P.S. To be perfectly honest, the Route 25, which is a single-decker articulated or bendy bus is not very photo-friendly, especially when it is raining and crowded, so these pictures relate to stages on the trip but have been 'borrowed' from other routes within our ever-growing archive.

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