Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Number 114 Route

Ruislip Station to Mill Hill Broadway Stations

Tuesday October 26th 2010

Typical half-term weather – what started as a grey and chilly day soon turned into a ‘rainfest’ so our appreciation of the features on this lengthy cross-country trip were pretty restricted.

For once I beat Jo to the rendezvous and thus had time to admire the now Grade 2 listed frontage of Ruislip station which welcomes both Piccadilly and Metropolitan line trains - the latter of course were originally proper steam trains and this 1905-built station would have brought public transport to the Edwardian middle classes. We were then both able to admire it as the next 114 took over half an hour to arrive – he was clearly late as he did not have time to rest and turned round immediately. By now the queues had built up both at the beginning, and, we noted, right along the route.

Much of Ruislip retains undamaged Broadway facades with flats on top and High Street shops below which eventually followed the houses and commuters out here.

Gymophobics caught our eye; it seemed to offer ladies-only classes and a rather random inflatable lady footballer dressed in the England kit waving from an upstairs balcony?

The bus heads down the very straight and potentially very fast Victoria Road, which is generously dotted with ‘Curb Your Speed’ signs from Harrow Council, announcing they had cut the annual casualty rate from 65 to 50 this year, so worth doing. Apart from the odd roundabout (these roundabouts are very much a feature of this period North West London) the road was lined with furniture outlets in amongst the schools and libraries.

Just through Eastcote we passed a small cemetery looking really uncrowded: lots of spaces between the graves, which reflected the houses really – nicely spaced out and not overcrowded – but both very different from their inner London equivalents/counterparts.

We had been nipping along quite happily but, as we turned into South Harrow and made our way up the hill towards Harrow on the Hill, we ground to a halt due to road works restricting the traffic to single side only. Perhaps this accounted for why the route had been delayed? The driver became ever more impatient with other traffic hereafter. Not surprising really.

Harrow seems to have 2 shopping centres – St George’s which we passed and St Ann’s which is marked on the bus map so not sure which saint won the contest to sell us more goods? The bus does a wriggle into the bus station which seemed to be full of H buses (a bit like E-numbers they are purely local additives) with the 114 the lowest number calling round here. Many passengers descended at this point including a young woman who had conducted her fairly intimate call in 2 languages without taking breath even as she descended the stairs.

From Harrow we were heading further east again towards and through Northwick Park, expecting to pass its large local hospital, which tended to get itself in the news for the wrong reasons, but not offered on this route. Kenton Lane had something of a police presence hovering but not enough to impede our progress so perhaps the excitement had already blown over.

Talking of blowing over the rain was pretty steady by now and the breathing passengers had misted up the windows so visibility as ever was much reduced – a further blur of suburbia.

More lanes and roundabouts brought us through Queensbury where the Jubilee Line station has a very clear Underground sign at the roundabout and on, just crossing the Edgware Road which is Burnt Oak Broadway at this point. The local market my mother favours was looking rather sad in the rain though someone has completed some cheerful looking murals towards the end of Stag Lane.

Its other claim to fame, there no longer being a Burnt Oak, it was the site of Mr Cohen’s first shop which he soon named Tescos – the rest you know.

We moved on, passing the Northern Line (4 if not 5 tube lines in one trip – can’t be bad) station then through the fairly extensive Watling Estate and its hidden riversThis is immediately recognizable as one of the London County Council’s ‘cottage estates’ of which South East London has quite a few. With the trees in autumn colours and the grass very green it all looked quite scenic through the misted up windows, so it was quite a shock to emerge suddenly at Mill Hill Broadway Station (trains only), which lurks, forever in the gloom under the M1 Motorway. An unlovely end for a challenging drive with stretches of fast straight but significant amount of manoeuvring along meandering lanes – if I list them you will get an idea of how countrified this area was:

Eastcote Lane, Sheepcote Lane, Bunns Lane, Stag Lane, Kenton Lane .... all convey a bucolic country idyll now firmly settled and well established suburbia, which suddenly ends in the third circle of hell...


  1. I live in the Colindale area and I love your dicriptions of the local area
    Are you going to put all of your stories into a book and publish it


  2. Victoria Road is in the London Borough of Hillingdon - not Harrow