Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Number 176 Route

Thursday 26 May 2011

 The 176 starts right outside St Giles' Church, behind Centre Point, and right by those strange new blocks that look as if they are made of Lego bricks.  Linda and I met there, Mary being busy, and were able to hop straight onto a bus at 10.00, heading towards Penge

This is really a route of two parts:  lots of Central London landmarks, and then a great deal of South London residential neighbourhoods.

We began by heading down Denmark Street, famous in the old days as London's Tin Pan Alley, and then into Charing Cross Road, to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and on down to Leicester Square Tube Station, which is looking much improved after some years of 'works'.

The Charing Cross Road is not quite all book shops:  there are several music shops and, strangely, luggage shops, as well as the Charing Cross Library which serves the Chinese Community.

We came into Trafalgar Square, past St Martin in the Fields, which now has a small glass dome thing, a miniature version of the Louvre Pyramide, I suppose, to get down into the Crypt.  We could see that the Ship in the Bottle is still on the fourth plinth.  We also noted the Olympic clock, busy ticking down the days and hours, before turning left into Duncannon Road towards Charing Cross and the Eleanor Cross outside it.

You have to go all round the Aldwych if you want to go over Waterloo Bridge, so we passed the Indian High Commission and then saw that there are building works near to the statue of Gladstone in front of St Clement Danes.

This time, Linda was able to take pictures as we crossed the bridge, and we were also able to photograph the fox outside the Hayward Gallery.  This was to be a two fox day, as you will see later.

Past the Old Vic, we were down to St George's Circus and the obelisk there, as well as South Bank University.  Elephant and Castle is gradually adopting its new shape, with some of the subways closed, and the number of roundabouts reduced.  We discussed the difference between the modern and highly desirable new blocks of apartments (wind turbines not working despite high winds) and the old council blocks, presumably due for demolition or renovation.

On down into South London along the Camberwell Road, we saw the Blue Plaque for Charlie Chaplin, and then we came to King's College Hospital and the Maudsley. We then turned left to pass alongside the Salvation Army College, where we came to Denmark Hill Station.  You cannot expect us Overground people to pass without mentioning that this station will form part of the last part of the Overground loop round london.  This is where we spotted our second fox of the journey. At least we thought it was a fox, though it could be a wolf,  made out of iron.  I can't seem to find any information about it, though I suppose it could be work from the Camberwell College of Art.

 As we came through East Dulwich and down to the Horniman Museum, there were long views down towards Surrey.

We had had a mixture of sunshine and bitterly cold winds with, from time to time, sudden rain showers.  Who would have thought that yesterday was 'breakfast in the garden' weather?

Dulwich turns to Forest Hill without a break.  There is a new Art Centre in Forest Hill, with wall paintings of the musical instruments, history and nature of the Horniman. We also noted Havelock Walk which is where the Croydon Canal used to run. Then one is seamlessly into Sydenham, past St Christopher's Hospice, one of the first of the Hospices;  and thence into Penge.

Penge is in the Borough of Bromley, though you might not think it if you have visited more prosperous parts of the borough.  We did admire the Watermen's Alms Houses.  We passed the Crooked Billet before heading along the High Street, before turning into Pawleyne Road (the Pawleyne Arms being long gone) and the bus terminated.  It was 11.15, about the time the journey was supposed to take.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Number 175 Route

Tuesday 21 September 2010

After a sunny walk through the Hillfield Estate from the 103, we (Mary and I) boarded the 175 at 11.55, bound for the Ford Main Works at Dagenham.

We headed back along our previous route, through attractive suburban houses, to pass Romford Bus Garage and cross the A12 to enter Romford . We went ‘round the back’ as required by the pedestrianised bits, and then to the station, before heading out past the Universal Music building.
whose UK headquarters are in Romford. We also passed the Romford Ice Rink and then went between the derelict old Hospital and the new Queen’s Hospital. The old site is to become ‘Pulse’ a new Taylor Wimpey residential development.

The bus turned into and out of the hospital: as Rachel says, buses always go to hospitals. Mary and I had a brief discussion about the cost of hospital parking and the frequent non-attendance at clinics that results: has anyone done the analysis about whether the parking charges cover the cost of missed appointments?

After the large YMCA at the outskirts of Romford, we were back at the Civic Centre, so recently passed on the 103, and noted the Boating Lake nearby. We nipped into and out of Becontree Heath bus station and streets of well maintained suburban houses. We saw signs to Eastbury Manor House said to be where the Gunpowder Plot was first conceived, and Valence House, another 16th century property. The number of handsome manor houses in Barking and Dagenham Borough is a reminder of how closely wealth and the river were intertwined in the past.

 Into Dagenham Heath and past its station, we came to a Pie and Mash shop  as well as a shop raising funds for Richard House Hospice in Beckton.

We noted the war memorial, which says simply ‘Lest we forget’, and were on down to Dagenham Dock, with fine views of the wind turbines along the river.  It has always been a puzzle that people who ignore pylons, not to mention satellite dishes and cars parked along every road, get very upset about wind turbines.  And please do not say that it's because of the noise they make.  Try standing close to any road at any time of day... or rather try finding anywhere inside the M25 where there is no traffic noise.

We were coming to the end of our journey, as Dagenham is still dominated by the Ford works. and so into the Ford Main Works.  This was very lowering: huge carparks now occupied by birch and buddleia trees, and acres of derelict plant. It does still make engines and various other bits, and was very much in the news the day we were there, as the film Made in Dagenham about the Dagenham Women Workers had just opened in London.

Clearly the 175 was routed into the plant when there were thousands of workers going on and off shift. Now we were the only people on the bus at the end (a little bus station all of its own) and our charming driver told us what it had been like, as well as his days driving the much more funky 15 route, with hordes of foreign tourists. We suggested that he might get tourists on this route if the film is a success. 

We arrived at 12.50, but had to take the same bus out of the works, to get to our next bus, the 174.

Although we did not travel the 173 until some months later, we were interested to note that for once there is logic to the numbers, the 173, 4 and 5 all more or less in the same part of south Essex.

The Number 174 Route

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Our kind 175 driver having dropped us off at the 174 stop (I know you will be reading this in the ‘wrong’ order, but we need to keep the record complete!) we took a brief trip on the 174 to get to CEME, where the 174 Route actually begins. (I do hope you’re following this,  but these are the rules!)

 CEME is the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence.  Andrew once gave a lecture there, so had actually travelled the 174 before us. We noted an ancient mini in the car park  but were not sure if it was a project of merely someone’s transport.  There were several 174s waiting, so these was no delay before setting off to Harold Hill at 13.20.

Back along Marsh Way, we came to the decaying outworks of Ford, and then to the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Church, a Nigerian church with pentecostal messages.

We travelled the 175 route past the Lord Denman Pub, named for the Lord Chief Justice who retired here when worn out by public office, apparently.

Turning right into Robinson Road, we became the only bus for a little loop round Rush Green, past signs to Eastbrook Country Park and also Barking and Dagenham College, busy with students.  Rush Green Medical Centre  was advertising a Spiritualist Medium Evening, which seems to indicate a wide interpretation of the remit of the NHS, and soon we were back on the 103 route, heading into Romford and passing Universal Music.

 This time, our third visit to Romford today, we noticed the Police Station, confirming our view that everything in Romford tends to the HUGE.

Raphael Park and Lodge Farm Park,  on opposite sides of the road, meant that there was a very green outlook as we left Romford, and headed to Gidea Park., where we admired the fine plasterwork of Jarvis and Co, Accountants.  Clearly their building is a good deal older than their business.

 We also passed the Pompadours Pub, though whether it was named after a French courtesan or a hair style I have been unable to determine.  Then we headed uphill, for the first time today, up to Harold Hill.  We were surprised to see a ‘beware deer’ sign outside Pyrgo Priory School, though it is not that odd, considering that Pyrgo Park was once a royal hunting ground.  It was here that, in 1542, Henry VIII, met his two daughters and decided to restore them to the line of succession after his son Edward VI.

Along Dagnam Park Drive, we came to what appeared to be two story prefabs.  It seems, however, that they aren’t.  This was an area where many prefabs were built at the end of the Second World War, but most sources suggest that they have all been replaced.

 We reached the end of our route in the residential areas of Dagnam Park Square and 14.20, with little choice but to get onto one of the waiting 174s to return us to the railway at Romford and our journey home.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Number 173 Route

Wednesday 18 May 2011

This was the middle bus of a three bus day, and Mary and I had arrived without difficulty at King George Hospital Little Heath.  We hoped that Linda was having lovely weather in Croatia.  I have been unable to discover which King George it is named for and, given that it was opened in 1993 I suppose it might be for the next one:  except that Andrew Lansley is planning to close A and E and maternity here, apparently.  We were interested to read the notice that said that the hospital was working in partnership with the Met Police to stop crime: the people we saw entering and leaving did not look particularly criminal.

The bus, which was a single decker (in fact this was an all-single-decker day) left at 11.30, most of the passengers, obviously, being patients or other hospital attendees.  We headed back very much the way we had come on our previous bus (362, since you ask) along Chadwell Heath Lane and past the attractive green of Little Green.  This was a mainly residential area, though in Chadwell Heath there were assorted shops, including the charity shop for DEBRA.  I have to admit I thought it was to do with Rheumatoid Arthritis, since its strapline is 'working for a life free of pain', but it proves to be about a genetic and blistering skin disease.

We took a little loop around the Eva Hart pub.  Because it is a Wetherspoons, its website has a little explanation of the name, but this is a bit more detailed, about her survival at the age of seven when the  Titanic sank.

There were several other healthy looking pubs along this route, but the pre-eminent feature of the route was the many types of houses.  We noted a street of semis where in almost every case, one of the pair was pebble dashed and the other wasn't.  We could not tell if this was by agreement, or council orders, or just coincidence.

People were getting on and off as we came close to shops, or as returning shoppers reached their homes.  We liked a sign either side of the zigzag lines of a crossing: 'show you care, park elsewhere' and were pleased to notice also some houses with wooden cladding, which I have always thought of as typically Essex.

We passed a range of churches, including the Wisdom House Church and the Salvation of God Ministry with its 'Cherubim and Seraphim Church' which is a local and comparatively new church.  Chadwell Heath Baptist Church was also proclaiming its ideas.

At this stage we were tangling with the A13, and rather puzzled by the black pointed pyramids on the roundabouts each side of the interchange.  We don't know if they are Art, or if they have some function we couldn't determine.  Certainly there was plenty of traffic heading around them and towards the Blackwall Tunnel

Although, on the whole, these were big roads with industrial and retail units along them, we did pass a huge Vue cinema.  More interestingly, at Goresbrook Leisure Centre, we came to statues of local heroes of football, Sir Alf Ramsey and Bobby Moore as well as another sporting person who we could not identify as we passed.

We had a change of driver as we paused at the Arriva Barking Bus Garage and then headed on, parallel to the A13 and admiring the cycling superhighway number 3, which had a great deal more to recommend it than those we have seen in south west London, namely continuous blue marking, rather than blobs, and considerable length segregated from the scary traffic of this major road.  Traffic was moving slowly so we thought the slogan on the milkshake lorry at least partly appropriate.

As we approached Beckton, its history was reflected in the handsome iron gas holder.  Not that there would have been anything handsome at the height of the great gas works, with the pollutants spewing out as coal gas was made to light and heat London,  A surprising number of retail parks succeeded one another until we reached the substantial Asda alongside the Beckton bus station, where we disembarked at 12.20.

Our overriding impressions on this journey were of the many thousands of homes served by this and other buses in this area, and the way in which area to the East of London has exchanged industry for seemingly endless retail opportunities.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Number 172 Route

Thursday 12 May 2011

Two trips in one week may seem excessive, but Linda and I will be away next Monday, and Linda did not want to miss one of her most local buses.  Mary was busy with the grandchildren.

From Brockley Rise, we headed along the road, past Crofton Park Station, and the Passmore Edwards Library, due for closure 
The Cornish philanthropist, as well as being a temperance and Peace campaigner, believed that education and opportunities to read for ordinary people was the way forward.  Ho hum.

As we passed the cemetery, Linda pointed out that the shop on the corner had once been an undertaker’s, but was now a betting shop.  Brockley Station (yes, it’s the Overground Fan Club again) has all been attractively landscaped.  We hope that the same will be happening to Honor Oak Park soon, though the internet leaves one rather doubtful about how long the rescue works there will take.

Anyway, this is meant to be about buses, so on with the 172, now passing that interesting embankment wall embossed with the words ‘sow, grow, reap’ and currently supporting rampant and pretty campanula, which certainly needs no sowing to grow.  Thanks to help from Sarah after an earlier journey, we were confident in identifying the roadside trees as hornbeams.

Past Goldsmith’s College and we were at New Cross Gate station, still tracking the Overground, though I promise that this will be the last mention of it this time.  We liked the name ‘De Lord’s Canteen’ for a restaurant serving African cuisine.  Has anyone else noticed that the word ‘canteen’ has become rather a popular name for eateries?  I suppose that, as memory fades of school dinners, it sounds OK.

                                                      We also noted the Christfaith Tabernacle in its Bethesda Building, named for the pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem associated with one of the miracles of Jesus.  Then we came to Brimmington Park, and headed along the New Kent Road  The Wazobia Restaurant offered us the opportunity to ‘wine and dine in opulent surroundings, and we liked the Everlasting Arms Ministry with its mosaic mural apparently of the Canterbury Pilgrims, who would have headed along this way before the ministry’s inception. After the edge of Burgess Park and a view of the slow-growing Shard we passed the plaque to the late great Henry Cooper and came to Marcia Road, where people died in an air raid in 1917.  It was odd to pass the other end of East Street Market, having been along the Walworth Road more than this one in recent journeys.

Progress towards Elephant and Castle was faster for us than for non-bus lane traffic but we still had time to see that he Heygate Estate is indeed coming down.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that the  people who first moved in, and indeed several generations afterwards, rated the benefits of indoor lavatories, running water  and fresh air highly, compared to the grim housing of the pre-bombing streets around here.

After Elephant and Castle and the Faraday memorial progress was much faster, up to the Obelisk at St George’s Circus, the Old Vic and Waterloo Station.

Over the bridge, Linda was prevented from taking her normal river views by the camera battery dying and needing to be replaced.  Still she was back in action as we came round Aldwych, and admired the medallions on the Indian High Commission building, as well as the entrance to Bush House, with its fulsome statement about ‘the Friendship of English Speaking Peoples’.

We were taken aback when the bus terminated here.  Our driver had to come upstairs and pry us out of our seats: she said that she had changed destinations on the signage at Elephant, but we tend to listen rather than look, being occupied  with the passing scene, so had missed the change.  But there,  no harm was done, and we were able to catch another 172 after a ten minute wait outside Clement’s Inn with time to cross the road to check that the little tubby statue looking down Fleet Street behind St Clement Dane’s was indeed Samuel Johnson.  

There was also a notice about a former well, possibly one of the ones mentioned here 

So on we went, past the mouldings of chinese workers at Twinings, and the many pubs and taverns of Fleet Street, to sweep to the south of St Paul’s Cathedral, where the traffic was slowed by ‘works’ as well as tourist buses, and up along New Change, to terminate well beyond St Paul’s Station, This enabled us to catch some attractive gardens in the space left by a blitzed church, and also the statue of Rowland Hill, before disembarking at 10.50

PS If you (improbable I know) are wondering at the delay in blogging this journey, it is of course because of the collapse of Blogger over the end of last week, which also appears to have deleted comments made by readers on several of our routes.