Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Number 192 Route

Monday 2 November 2009

Although this bus serves much the same area as the 191, we travelled it a long time ago, when we were in the forties (bus 40s not our 40s, obviously)  and it was the end of a rather lengthy journey:

Linda and I stepped off the 41 at Tottenham Hale Station, and within a couple of minutes, at 13.35, were aboard the 192, headed for Enfield.  We were pleased to see that a young mother with a charming baby who had been on the 143 and the whole of the 41 was also boarding the 192.  Could it be, we wondered, that she too had a plan for the buses?  But we did not ask, and she did not travel the whole way with us.

We skirted the Lea Valley (or Lee Valley) Technopark, and then looped into the enormous Edmonton Ikea, where many people got off.

This was my first experience of a 'hail and ride' bus, though Linda had encountered them before.  Clearly people know where the bus will stop, because we never picked up single people, but always groups.

We travelled past the huge agglomeration of cemeteries, including the Federation of Synagogues burial area

Our route took us past industrial streets mixed with residential area, lots of new flats, and into Edmonton Green with its tall housing blocks. 

There was a wide choice of religious venues, big Anglican Churches as well as the ICC House of Prayer  and the Bush Hill Primitive Methodists 
As we came to Edmonton Green's Bus Station, we admired the fine row of terrace housing along the main road, and then turned left to cross the A10 and reach Bush Hill Park Station.  A further Hail and Ride section took us north and west.

We had been in Haringey, but now we entered EN1 and left the London Post Code area. Passing Enfield Town Station, we encountered the New River before sweeping round the Palace Gardens Shopping Centre to reach Little Park Gardens at 14.25. 

The Number 191 Route

Wednesday 29 June 2011

This, the third bus of our day, was our first double decker, and we hopped on board at 11.35 after pausing to use the facilities of the Edmonton Green shopping centre.  We were headed to Brimsdown, which did not appear to be far away.  But that is as the crow flies, rather than as the 191 wanders (check it here), and on a couple of occasions we seemed to be heading back towards Edmonton Green rather than pushing eastwards.

Mary was on holiday, so it was Linda and me who were enjoying the excellent weather after yesterday's exciting and refreshing thunder storms.

We have always approved of the wording on Edmonton Green War Memorial: it says that it was erected by the people of Edmonton 'in loving and grateful memory of her sons who fell', rather than any reference to glory.  Turning right to skirt the bus station, we headed past the handsome terraced houses, before turing right down Bounces Road to pass St Edmund's Roman Catholic Primary School, which seems to have been faced with stone, as you will see if you glance at their website.

After being told off (very rightly) by Solar Penguin a few buses ago for carping at ungrammatical shop signs, I hesitate to mention 'Anything Goe's', but can't resist, and attach a photograph to show how odd it looks. I believe that Bernard Shaw operated without apostrophes as he said they were pointless.

We were interested in the pub name of 'The Cart Overthrown', but as usual the name of the pub is not explained on most pub websites.  This one, however, does say that it dates from at least 1752, when  it was known as the Overturned Cart (presumably a not uncommon occurrence as carters headed into and out of London and stopped for a pint or two).
We saw two advertisements for advertising hoarding space  today:  like this one.  I don't believe I have ever seen any before and wonder if it is a side effect of the recession.  But mostly we were in residential areas, with front gardens converted to car space.  The Harvesters Bible Church advertised itself with a quotation from the prophet Joel ('Thrust in the sickle') but its website is not very informative about what they are hoping to harvest.

As we came towards Ponders End, we could see the four large block of flats, each with its stripe of colour.  Then, passing Ponders End station, we turned left, away from our destination and towards Enfield.  Traffic was slow along Nag's Head Road (no relation to the one in Holloway), because of the traffic lights to get us across the A 1010 Hertford Road, so we had plenty of time to notice (though not to step off and retrieve) the duvet which someone had left at a bus stop.

Past Southbury station and heading towards Enfield Town station, we crossed the even more major A10.  George Spicer Primary School does not explain the origin of its name, so I feel free to wonder if it is named for the man who 'saw the Loch Ness Monster in 1933'  and started press interest.

There was a small and very duck-weed-y stream to our right, which proves to be part of the New River loop, confirmed as we passed New River House and later crossed the main stream of the New River.  A number of journeys have passed since we last reminded you of Sir Hugh Myddleton's great work, so here's the reference.

 Up Chase Side, we turned right at Lavender Hill (a surprisingly South London reference, we thought) to head eastwards along Carterhatch Lane, noting a rather grey and simple cemetery behind the houses, followed by substantial allotments.  Back over the A 10, we reached Eastfield Road where Albany School (as the bus refers to it) has now become an Oasis Academy.

Now we finally turned into Brimsdown Avenue, passing through former public housing, now developing variety in the hands of its new owners or landlords, and reaching The Izaak Walton Pub.  The great fisherman never seems to have got closer to here than Clerkenwell, but there are fishing opportunities in the reservoirs around Brimsdown, so it seems a reasonable name.

We were off our bus and onto Brimsdown Station platform by 12.50, the 75 minutes a testimony to the loopy nature of this route.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Number 190 Route

Thursday 23 June 2011

 Richmond bus station is merely a parking space, behind the shopping area, with few distractions for the waiting passengers, so Linda and I were glad to see a 190 resting as we arrived.  Helpful people told us that the 'temporary bus stop' at the entry was the right place to board, and we had about four minutes to absorb this information before it was proved true, and our single decker set off at 11.05.

We turned into the smart streets of Richmond centre,  where we noted a number of specialist underwear shops, and where even Ted Baker has  a 'heritage' looking building.  A few more people got on here, including a lady who asked whether West Brompton - our bus's destination - was close to Fulham.  We hissed 'no' to each other, but the driver said yes, Fulham Palace Road was part of the route.  And so indeed it proved, with the passenger in question travelling all the way to West Brompton with us.

We found the tiled name of the Don Fernando Tapas Bar more attractive than the dull exterior of Richmond Station:  their menus look pretty attractive, too.

 Along here there were many H-for-Hounslow buses, indicating, like the planes overhead, that we were in West London.  They are, however, some way away as far as the project is concerned.  We were travelling through a real London mix of housing, some handsome mid victorian and possibly earlier properties, as well as lines of red brick terraces.

 But there was also a considerable amount of new building going on, including The Glassworks, which proves to be a development for the Notting Hill Housing Trust, aimed at people who would not normally be able to afford North Sheen.  We also saw signs to the London Wetland Centre.  It would have been fun to get off the bus and go and see the avocets, breeding here in fresh water, a world first over the past few years, but we'll leave that until we are on the bus that serves the Centre.

On our left was North Sheen Cemetery, a huge expanse (three bus stops long, as Linda pointed out) behind neatly trimmed hedges which is followed immediately by Mortlake Cemetery where, among others, Sir Arthur Bliss is buried.  That brought is to Chiswick Bridge,  an unusual river crossing for us, and to Duke's Meadows.  This looks as if it has been a green open space since the dawn of time, or at least a time when Dukes were prominent, but in fact it used to be the site of industries from shoe polish to gravel and ship building, before becoming the attractive green space it now is.                  

We were the only bus along past Chiswick House, and again were tempted to hop off and   see how the gardens have developed since our visit last summer.  English Heritage have restored the gardens to something like their original splendour, though last year it was still looking a bit new and raw.  Still, another time...  The same applies to Hogarth's House, which is just around the corner.

Hogarth has given his name to the unattractive roundabout, with the tinny flyover taking cars towards the A4.  The scenery is slightly improved by the Fuller's Pub (the George and Devonshire) and former brewery.  We turned left into Chiswick Lane, rather than following the A4 directly into Hammersmith, which meant that we passed the headquarters of the Rambert Dance Company as well as a lowering number of boarded up shops, unexpected in this apparently prosperous area.

We were into and out of Hammersmith Bus Station in less time than it takes to say 'upper level', and heading southwards along Fulham Palace Road.  On our left were buildings of the Guinness Trust, and on our right, properties of the Peabody Trust, as though housing philanthropists had shared a brainstorm and decided that Hammersmith and Fulham was the borough to build in.

Next came the Charing Cross Hospital, where a few people got off and several got on.  Melcombe Primary School, still in its large 19th century buildings, has its original name in the stonework.  A newer development is a substantial block of student accommodation, going up along Fulham Palace Road.

We passed Bishop Creighton House, founded to serve the community on 1907 in memory of the Bishop of London by his wife.  Issues like the abnormally high infant mortality rate in the area were among the reasons for its foundation, and in 1918 they began classes for former munitions workers ('the girls were of an incredibly uncivilised type - brutalised by their rough and dangerous work'

 Wriggling along the lane-like Lillie Road, we again wondered why we have been unable to find a website telling us which Sir John Lillie is commemorated here:  but there was little time to worry as we came up to the back of Earls Court, to West Brompton Bus Station, where the bus terminated.

It was only 11.50, and we are used to finishing our journeys much later than this, so we stepped into 'the Met Collection', a little display of the history of the Metropolitan Police. It has uniforms, and medals, as well as some interesting items like the special lightweight truncheons (kept in a shoulder bag) issued to Women Police Officers when they were originally recruited in 1918.  There were also many photographs and if you are ever at West Brompton Bus Station, you may feel it worth popping in for fifteen minutes.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Number 189 Route

Monday November 2nd 2009

Oxford Circus to Brent Cross

This route was in fact the start of an epic 5 bus marathon centring on and allowing us access to the Route 41: however it started very badly with Linda waiting in vain for her local bus then circumnavigating John Lewis in an effort to locate the head stop, which is in fact hard by Oxford Circus beside H &M. Oxford Circus itself was full of bells and whistles as the new (as in November 2009) ‘diagonal road crossing system’ was being launched with a brass marching band – what else? The weather was clear and bright so good for photos from top decks. Also what more could any shopper desire than a bus route joining North London’s two major shopping outlet venues?

Oxford Street had set up its lights – a Mary Poppins theme with umbrellas – and Selfridges was in the process of decorating their windows. The traffic was flowing freely as we passed Portman Square with its rich history and rich architecture - in fact plain RICH and its private garden. Gloucester Place seems to have survived the bombing (by which I mean the Second World War Blitz) virtually unscathed, as the terraces are remarkably complete on both sides, and planted with little trees which should mature nicely. A blue plaque indicated ‘Sir Gerald Kelly, portrait painter’ lived in one of them, and another houses the fairly modest embassy for San Salvador.

Two very contrasting schools are almost opposite each other – the very posh Francis Holland school for girls and the Sylvia Young theatre school. Another blue plaque in Lisson Grove where you cross the Regents Canal told us that Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846) and John Charles Rossi (1762 –1839) both lived here – not exactly household names. And further down this surprisingly curvy road we found a statue to Edward Onslow, who had a surprisingly interesting life.

The bus, only one of two as it happens, swings down Abbey Road with its single villas and Mansion blocks. We noted the Marlborough Place Synagogue and then a very handsome Italianate/Orthodox church, which is being turned into apartments. Though we also noted 'The Salt House ' ( in fact too busy noting) a pub with an interesting name so we managed to miss THE zebra crossing which features on the cover of the famous Beatles album which showed them leaving the studios and prompted all those rumours about Paul being dead… So we need to capture it on our next trip along here. [Loyal readers will already know that we failed AGAIN on the 139, so here is another link to the live webcam to make up for our shortcomings.]

Abbey Road has far more public housing as it reaches its end towards West Hampstead and eventually turns into Kilburn High Road, which today was mercifully not too busy. Pawnbrokers, with and without their 3 balls, are quite in evidence but the Tricycle Theatre and cinemas soldier on. Brondes Age echoes nearby Brondesbury I suppose? Up Shoot Up hill to, what else, Summit Court at the top and there we were in Cricklewood, not that far from Willesden Green, where live family. The Irish Community has long roots in this area but signs of newcomers too, as in the Bosnia and Hercogovina Community Store.

We left the High Road behind, to travel another day we know, and headed right into the heartland of Cricklewood through the estates now newly built along the River Brent and the more longstanding schools of Claremont and Clitterhouse playing fields – not that primary schools were much into rivalry in the Fifties but if they were these were the local ‘opposition’ to Linda’s Middlesex primary school Wessex Gardens, across the Hendon Way. Having negotiated some quite narrow roads the bus then encircles the Holiday Inn on the North Circular which is the only road approach from this direction to the Brent Cross Shopping centre, its terminating point. Brent Cross is the hub for a surprising number of buses, including our next one, yet to take us to our KEY route for today. It took under the hour predicted and gained us some time lost earlier.

The Number 188 Route

Monday 15 March 2010

This was our return bus after the pleasures of the 61 and 161, so Linda, Mary and Jo boarded at 12.55, right outside the Dome, having visited the clean, but stark and freezing public loos of North Greenwich Station, where Mary was able to get the 2010 bus maps, so essential to planning.

Our journey began past the Millennium Village and Primary School but we were soon into 'historic' Greenwich, past the National Maritime Museum  and the Old Royal Naval College, spotting the hoarding that hides the Cutty Sark  as well as the entrance to the foot tunnel.

As we headed into Deptford, we noted lots of new build (one and two bedroom flats, of course, to the despair of people with families) as well as the Creekside Centre 'inspired by dance'. 

There is a large Vietnamese community here, with restaurants and shops to mark their presence, as we passed from Lewisham into Southwark, which has chosen Yellow for its Rotherhithe signs.  We looped into and out of Surrey Quays shopping centre, where we said hello to Linda's pet bus, the P12,  and on round the Leisure Park. 'The Home of Quality Newspapers' proclaimed the building which houses the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.  I make no comment, as we were swiftly on to Canada Water Station, where this whole adventure began, with the Number 1 bus to Tottenham Court Road, in Mach 2009.

We saw the plaque that marks the Surrey Docks fire and, with Bermondsey Station, were in the middle of the Dickens estate.  The names of its blocks serve as a test for Dickens lovers:  Carton and Darnay quite easy, and Rudge positively obvious, but Lupin and Wade requiring knowledge of Martin Chuzzlewit and Little Dorrit.  Druid Street Arch has a plaque to commemorate the 77 people killed by a bomb while sheltering on 25 October 1940.  

Tower Bridge Road begins a long way south of the bridge, and took us past Bermondsey Square, once the cloister garth of Bermondsey Abbey but now very regenerated.  Soon we turned right at the Bricklayers Arms and headed towards Elephant and Castle.  Driscoll House, formerly Ada Lewis House, began its life in 1913 as a hostel for working women  and has more recently been a hotel.  

 There is new building all around Elephant and Castle, including the Oakmayne Tower.  We went on, past Southbank University, the HQ of the London Ambulance Service and the Old Vic before heading over the river and around Aldwych, around the back of the Indian High Commission with its wall medallions.

Then it was up Southampton Row to reach Russell Square at 13.55, exactly an hour from North Greenwich.  We noted the plaque for TS Eliot as we prepared to disembark.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Number 187 Route

Monday 13 June 2011

Mary being busy, Linda and I met at Finchley Road Tube Station and we were onto our single decker 187 promptly at 10.00, bound for the Central Middlesex Hospital.

It was a murky morning, with little sign of the promised sunshine and 24 degrees, and the bus had rather dirty windows as well.  But we were able to see the large Waitrose which had once been John Barnes, as well as the Octavia Charity Shop, which supports a housing charity, though the websites I have found are rather vague about any link with Octavia Hill.  We came rapidly to Swiss Cottage and to the Basil Spence Public Library, which has had a complicated history with changes of function and refurbishments as well as part demolitions.  We also noted that the nearby Japanese Restaurant, Benihana,  appears to have stopped trading.

Our next landmark was Quintin Kynaston School, which was in the news a few weeks ago with its plans to provide accommodation for homeless students.

It was around here that we spotted a bus advertising the "Indian Property Show'.  We do, as it happens, know some people with a second home in India, but were surprised to realise that it was such a big market.  It is rather dependent on affordable air travel, and not exactly a 'weekend retreat' option.

Passing St John's Wood Station, we turned right at the Wellington Hospital, in an area of many mansion flats as well as large houses, mostly divided. We liked the Art Deco-ish detail on the former National Provincial Bank, and showed our age by tracing back the former names of current high street banks. We agreed that inertia tends to rule: both of us are still with the banks we started with.

The shops in this affluent area are interesting:  the Sheepdrove Organic Farm Shop is one of two, the other being in Bristol, which makes sense, since they are about half way between the two cities.

Meanwhile the Baker and Spice Cafe had a piper on its balcony (a statue, that is, not a living one).  Soon we came to another Bar, this one called Idlewild.  Linda knew it was an airport in New York, but I, being older, remembered it from the theme tune of an American TV series called 'Car 54, where are you'.  Not many readers will remember it, as it was back in the early 1960s:  but the lyrics did say  'Khruschev's due at Idlewild'.

We haven't been collecting hair cutters' names recently, but enjoyed the look of Hair D'zign.

The area began to look a little more familiar as we came past the Chippenham Hotel and turned into Kilburn Lane, coming to Queen's Park Station.  The houses along here, both before and after the Linen House are attractive terraces, many of them with Arts and Crafts detail in their plaster work, and a number with a pattern in green bricks on their gable ends.  The small front gardens were pretty colourful, too.

On the other side of the road are a number of modern blocks of flats, with more going up.  The area is already densely populated, and our bus was slowed by the fact that the roads are not really designed for the amount of traffic they carry.

We paused briefly in the forecourt of Kensal Rise Station, where we admired Just Barking, with its claim of providing 'Doggie Day Care' as well as, apparently, a dating service for single dog lovers:  but our bus swept us on before we could note the details.

Now we swung off the main roads, to serve some residential areas of Neasden,  very different from the busy routes we had travelled before; but then we came back into Park Parade, to find slow traffic as a result of major 'water' works.  It was a bit of a surprise:  two years ago, it seemed that every street was having its Victorian watermains sorted, but we had grown out of the habit recently.

The road turns into Harlesden High Street and then Acton Lane where we came to Our Lady of Willesden.  The church is 1930s and not particularly beautiful (though the roses around the gateway were) but it is interesting to note that they offer preparation for baptism (for parents presumably) in Portuguese, under a Brazilian flag;  and it has a long history as a shrine, according to a number of websites which refer to its Black Madonna.

We next needed to cross the enormous number of railway lines.  Linda had calculated that there are seven stations called 'Acton something' or 'something Acton', and certainly the railway bridges were extensive.

This part of North Acton turns into Park Royal, and we nipped around the industrial and business estate, remarking that the McVitie's Factory clearly also makes McCoy Crisps, before coming to the enormous Asda, where many people got off our bus.  Opposite is a bench with a mother and child sculpture sitting on it.  Last time we came this way a rather drunken person was sharing it with them, but this time they were alone.

A further few minutes brought us to the Central Middlesex Hospital, less than an hour after leaving Finchley Road:  not bad, considering the extensive tour of West London areas which this little bus takes you on.