Monday June 29th 2009
This was a glorious summer’s day with temperatures in the high twenties: definitely the hottest day of the year so far.
This route was in fact the return leg of a very enjoyable trip on the Number 19 but certainly offered some contrast to that route. The bus is a single decker, and for the fist time we had a female driver, a relative newcomer still receiving support or advice from a more senior colleague but doing very well along what proved to be quite a testing route starting with cutting through some narrow back streets and across major roads and ending with pedestrians jaywalking through the City…
Finsbury Park Bus garage is dominated by the official Arsenal shop, not yet displaying the new kit. In keeping with being so close to a major sporting venue, the just out-of-sight Emirates, the local area was lively with a range of fast food outlets.
As we sped off towards the Caledonian Road, then branching off it, we passed both a smart GP Practice ‘The village’ and the Medical Foundation (for the Victims of Torture) originally set up by Helen Bamber, who now works as a consultant therapist for the Centre – the London branch of which is now housed in this rather splendid new building in Isledon Road. Further on we came to the Sobell Leisure Centre, now part of a chain, but still offering indoor sporting activities for the local community. Michael Sobell himself was a business man philanthropist rather on the traditional Victorian model, though he was a twentieth century man. Even this far from Emirates we noticed the parking costs reflect different rates dependent on whether there is a home match or not.
Throughout this trip, the majority of which was in the London Borough of Islington, we were impressed by the amount and often the quality of the social housing often very adjacent to some of the most expensive and desirable property in London, and sometimes the two coincided. We continued along Tollington Road and across the Holloway Road where Morrisons and Waitrose do head-to-head consumer battle. Along here are several buildings for the London Metropolitan University North Campus, not to be confused with the London City University which came later in the trip!
We bore right along Liverpool Road and passed another little oasis in the shape of Paradise Park, and then skirted the back of Pentonville Prison arriving somehow at the side of the Islington Sainsbury’s – a popular disembarking point for many of the passengers. On the corner of a building we noted a sign commemorating three churchwardens who, our historian reminded us, were responsible for the drains, and other things such as Poor Law relief within their parish back in the day and this corner of Upper Street seemingly denoted the bounds of their responsibilities.
We were back on St John Street EC1, this time going its entire length past the Queen Boadicea Pub, complete with ship’s prow, and the City University. The bus skirted two sides of Charterhouse Square, so we just glimpsed some of the Bart’s hospital buildings including one where Mary had been a resident – she also remembered a rather traumatic trip to a local hairdresser as she nipped out from her medical studies and like her local butcher glimpsed earlier on the 19 route there still seemed to be a hairdresser doing business on the same spot.
Soon thereafter we found ourselves going under the Barbican complex and round the side through some very narrow streets – on one side The Brewery was having loads delivered while opposite an unidentified skyscraper just towered into the sky. Silk Street, Moorgate and all the adjacent streets were all incredibly busy as this was lunch-time, and all the workers were out there enjoying the sunshine and their break.
Mary and Linda were a little concerned, eavesdropping a conversation behind us, where a young woman was giving way too much information about her personal history to a stranger fellow traveller – fortunately he seemed to take the information in his stride and did not take advantage of the situation.
We joined the lunch people and ate our sandwiches perched on the Kindertransport memorial (see the start of the Number 11) at Liverpool Street, complete with accompanying pianist, having experienced a very satisfying trip which took us through some areas Linda, more than her companions, had never seen, and all in just under an hour.