Friday, 14 May 2010

The Number 72 Route

West Acton to Roehampton (Bessborough Avenue)

Monday April 6th 2009

The Number 7 (see earlier) having left us in East Acton, we had only to remain at the same stop to get its close relative – the number 72. East Acton was a lot smarter and less scary than we had anticipated and even nearby Wormwood Scrubs looked attractive in the spring sunshine. We are clearly not alone in thinking this as the prison building built between 1875-1891 was recently awarded 'listed status'. We retraced some of the same ground back to Latymer (private) and Burlington Danes (C/E) schools and then turned right past some ? regenerated nurses’ homes (Nightingale and Pankhurst blocks) onto the Du Cane Road. This then took us under Westway past a shiny, as in aluminium covered, and secure looking building which turned out to be the new BBC. In fact it calls itself the new Media Village, was designed by Allies & Morrison and can be visited in detail in the News Release put out by the BBC on 11/5/2004. The bus swept onto the older BBC White City, familiar from aerial shots. This is of course now close to the large Westfield Shopping Centre, which seems to fill in a rather dead area between White City and Shepherds Bush.

The bus went right round the Green that is only enlivened by a small war memorial and the detritus of the101 fast food outlets which now surround the eponymous patch of grass. We veered off left towards Hammersmith, which has less green but more offices – we noted firemen busy washing their engines in the newer station and the older station just up the road a trendy restaurant. Hammersmith is a major transport hub, as we have learned to call them, with the tube interchanges rather neatly tucked under the road system and two tier bus garage – we went through the lower one and then headed south.

My more knowledgeable companion informed me that St. Paul’s School, with the pupils evacuated during the war, had served as a secret HQ and was the site where Monty told Churchill about the D-Day plans. To me this indicates that St. Paul’s has been out in Hammersmith for at least 60+ years…We were delighted to cross Hammersmith Bridge, which is most attractive (visit here for a 360ยบ view) and had been out of commission for so long. This led us then along the road to Barnes – Castelnau – graced with substantial villas and many a magnolia tree in bloom, followed by bosky Barnes Common.

No sooner had we crossed the South Circular by Rosslyn Park Rugby Ground than we passed several different parts of the University of Roehampton – formerly different teacher training establishments, but now selling itself as ‘open spaces – open minds’ We thought it was a good campus if you felt a bit timid about tackling central London universities. There also seemed to be a vestige of Queen Mary’s hospital, Roehampton perhaps still famous for its limb-fitting centre. At the end of Roehampton Lane the bus turns into the very large Alton Estate, known to me from my Wandsworth social worker days when this was indeed my ‘patch’. In the early seventies, when I worked here the blocks and houses were newish, the buses were few and far between and the tenants had mainly been re-housed from ‘older properties’ in Battersea and World’s End (Chelsea) and thought themselves, quite literally, to be at the end of the line out of London.

The blocks, built during late Fifties, do have extensive views over Richmond Park and rather than walk directly from one end to the other we (eventually via the A3 and a comfort break at ASDA) got ourselves into Richmond Park and back round to pick up our next bus.

This was a friendly and busy but not crowded single decker bus, often used by younger people doing short hops, especially round the key stations and university.
PS There is a very striking documentary series on life on the inside of Wormwood Scrubs, currently running on ITV.

PPS Only three photos are taken at the time and then batteries failed – I’ve added some spring colour to cheer us up – all familiar, reliable and popular garden plants visible on many bus rides….

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