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.


  1. I love your blog - its a very interesting project.

    The roundabouts in Dagenham, known locally as the "witches hats" are art works. Apparently they are meant to symbolise the road going up towards heaven. Its a shame, as I don't think it quite does it for me.

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