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.