Friday, 13 August 2010

The Number 92 Route

Ealing Hospital to St Raphael’s North

Monday July 5th 2010

Jo seemed happy to spend her birthday bussing round NW London, so we boarded our Number 92 in the sizeable bus area just between the somewhat tired-looking Ealing General Hospital (quite a long way outside Ealing town centre it has to be said) and the even older St Bernard’s Hospital, formerly the Hanwell Asylum. As we know from our other bus trips, the Victorians had a habit of locating the insane safely on the fringes of the growing metropolis and St Bernard's, formerly known as the Hanwell Asylum seems to have been the most westernmost of these institutions. We started by saying it looked imposing and then decided ‘forbidding’ was more apt. The ‘gate’ sketched in the attached is still very much in place as we bowled up the Uxbridge Road under the Iron Bridges (one rail and a bit further along one canal), apparently a lesser known work of Brunel. The 92 is then able to turn and head off in more northerly direction across the Brent Valley, its park and golf course on the one side and the aptly named Golf Links Estate on the other – an impressively tall tower block, which has almost burnt down in its day.
Not surprisingly, as we were not that far from Southall, Greenford – which the bus traverses – also reflects the fact that this whole area has the largest concentration of people from South Asia outside the Indian subcontinent. The Baba Wadbhag Singh Trust seems to be appealing for building funds though our photo indicates quite a smart looking building.

Further along the RC church (and there is of course a sizeable RC population in South India too) also gets a look in, with another Cardinal Wiseman secondary school and ‘Our Lady of the Visitation’ prompted us to wonder when exactly was it that the Pope was visiting?

The advantage of one of these Thirties-built suburbs is that the roads are quite nice and wide so our bus had plenty of room. As we passed no fewer than three ‘drivers under training instruction’ the bus companies obviously also think these are good routes for learners. With the Grand Union Canal, then the railways and then not so distant Heathrow we supposed that this area has long been used for storage/transit and depots of various kinds and sure enough we passed the HQs of a range of well known companies Hovis (I just couldn’t resist linking to this advert) complete with a fleet of jolly yellow vans, and interestingly TATA who clearly make more than cars. As these buses have a ‘station habit’ the 92 did a little wriggle to access Greenford Station which had us both groping for the tube map – it’s on the Central line to save you the trouble

The bus then arrives in Sudbury and passes the finishing point of the Route 18, where the fine weather seems to have made them think about breeding as there were no fewer than 4 lined up… hairdressers were plentiful too – ‘Wise Guys’, ‘All that Glitz’ ‘Thru the looking glass’ to name but three.

Wembley is a small hop from Sudbury and is it was by now lunch-time we had a fairly slow but not dull journey along Wembley High Road – time to admire both their railing boxes and hanging baskets, all in great colour, plus all the work going into 'Building a Better Borough'– Brent Council’s strap line. The police station has moved into more modern premises leaving we thought the old traditional station to be developed as a restaurant. There was certainly significant evidence of regeneration around here with lots of building, some of it quite imaginative and reflecting the shape and textures of the stadium, so we felt Brent were working hard to live up to their ‘vision’.

Though several routes and not a few trains serve our national stadium only 1 bus route offers a 360º tour, and that was us today so we were able to get an excellent view of Norman Foster's soaring arch. Strangely it is sometimes MORE visible from afar (we can see it from SE London) and the closer you get the more it vanishes (very Alice through the Looking Glass) but we got some good detailed shots. We know it came in late and over budget but it looks the part.
Anything after that was going to be something of anti-climax, so sure enough suddenly we were almost the only passengers as we went through yet another industrial estate/ business park – enterprises large and small: Norbert Dentresangle, what we used to call haulage and now seems to be Logistic and Transport, and Panacea, suppliers of health foods. On the NW London bus map this part of the route looks as convoluted as those biology lesson pictures of the intestines so it was then no surprise that without tangling with the North Circular the 92 manages to dump you between the Tesco and Ikea in what we used to know as Neasden but now seems reborn as Brent Park.

Something for everyone along this route – residential to business – Thirties to Millennium Buildings this route has it all and within a wholly reasonable 55 minutes (the 38 minute estimate seemed a bit optimistic) given the minor delays through Wembley.

1 comment:

  1. Useless piece of trivia: Greenford was the first Underground station to have escalators going UPWARDS from street level to the platform above.