Monday, 29 August 2011

The Number 211 Route

Tuesday 22 September 2009

This was the bus to get us to the 33.  Mary and I (Linda still enjoying Berlin) met at Waterloo, after difficulties finding the head stop, which proved to be right outside the main entrance, up that street that we thought only taxis use.  We were off by 10.07.  Along York Road and past the Shell Centre, we wondered what was to happen to the old Eurostar platforms, but the answer appears to be 'nothing much' though I know Linda and Roger enjoyed the 'Railway Children'.
We spotted the Duck Tour as we headed past St Thomas's and over Westminster Bridge (it being a beautiful sunny day, we thought earth had 'not anything to show more fair' but realised that had been said before).

We managed a glimpse of the fairly recent statue of Nelson Mandela as we nipped around Parliament Square.

 Victoria Street was, as usual, quite slow, and then we passed the station and the coach station and came to the junction with Ebury Bridge Street, where the remains of a Second World War plane were dug up while I was at the Churchill War Rooms.

 On along the Pimlico Road, we came to the hole in the ground where the intervention of the heir to the throne has prevented building on the Chelsea Hospital site.  Then we were into Chelsea proper, and heading along the King's Road and then the Fulham Road.  we passed the Royal Brompton and Royal Marsden Hospitals.

Since we would pass the Charing Cross Hospital later, this was a four-hospital bus.
The attractive houses, little square gardens and posh shops made this a pleasant route.  We passed Daunt books, famous because our friend Rachel shops there, and he (Daunt) writes for 'Slightly Foxed'. (Of course since this journey he has become lord of the Universe, or at least head of Waterstone's) The Servite Shop was one of several charity shops  which indicated we were getting beyond the rich bit. 

This was a much loopier way to get to Hammersmith than the 9 or 10, but none the less enjoyable for that, and we arrived at 11.20, in perfect time to head to the lower Bus garage and hop onto the departing 33. 

The Number 210 Route

Brent Cross to Finsbury Park Station

Monday June 28th 2010

This route came at the tail end of a trip that started with Route 82 over a year ago so there is some chance the 210 may no longer exist in this form by the time we get to post it. For me this was a nostalgia route as I remember this so clearly as a ‘little bus’, one of the early ones so chosen to manage the steep and narrow climbs into and out of Hampstead.

But back to 2010 and Brent Cross bus melĂ©e – it’s not well arranged and ladies who shop tend to crowd round the stops making it difficult to get to the right one but appropriately enough at 2.10 we boarded the 210. I can remember the excitement at our (very local) school when the first plans for Brent Cross were published – all those shops on our doorstep obviating the need to ride the 13 into Oxford Street and it did live up to its promise – now a ‘veteran’ mall at the age of 35 it retains its popularity still.

The 210’s first and quite complex task it to work its way through the complexities required to get over the North Circular (3 lanes each way at this point) and then immediately under the A41 – believe me don’t try this in a car. Anyway soon enough we were bowling through the quiet back streets of Brent and along the Golders Green Road, as it feeds and nurtures its ethnic locals, and past the station and the poor old Hippodrome – such a wonderful theatre, its most recent incarnation is as a place of worship; all I can say is that they must have a very large congregation to fill its 1500 seats.

The bus then progresses very carefully up North End Road – a road so narrow and sunken the pavement is elevated amongst the trees, which bang furiously onto the bus. Our progress was hindered today by some completely thoughtless car parking in a BUS LANE (that’s car crime said Jo). To both sides there is greenery galore – to the right the lovely Golders Hill Park, the most formal part of the Heath. Not surprisingly some of the grand houses on this side have blue plaques: Ivy House, now the Jewish Cultural Centre, was once home of Anna Pavlova the Russian-born ballerina and Heath End House for Dame Henrietta Barnett whose influence was so great and legacy still very evident in NW11. To the left, behind the houses (ask not the price) and the old Bull & Bush pub, is the lesser known Heath Extension until you emerge back into the sunlight at the top of the hill and Whitestone Pond – currently undergoing an extensive and expensive renovation so that enthusiasts of all ages can sail their model boats. **

There is so much to do and see on the Heath I leave this link for you to do your own research.

At this point the 210 leaves Hampstead proper to other routes and heads firmly round a tight corner (house now derelict and for sale) along swathes of the Heath to Kenwood – the views are terrific straight over the Heath and Parliament Hill Fields across the panorama of London in all its slightly polluted glory. If ever there was a bus to get off and explore this is the one, however trips to Kenwood Park and House need to wait for another day.

Once past Kenwood the properties prices rise again as the bus goes along the Spaniards Road , crosses the Bishops Avenue and then Highgate Village – in some ways less showy and more accessible than Hampstead village – both wealthy neighbourhoods where the description village is valid, apart from the toiling peasants of course. Again the views as the double decker descends Highgate Hill are terrific – what does it matter if it’s just pantomime lore but the thought that Whittington & his cat were on their way home when the call came to turn again makes a good story and here is its marvellous location (“It’s behind you!”). The bottom of the hill finds the 210 usefully passing several bits of the Whittington Hospital – some buildings saying more about Victorian grandeur then useful places to cure people…Highgate has its own more modest Waterlow Park just visible from the bus.

Not quite in the queue to board (which in our case was rather small, as we had caught up the 210 ahead, which took up the crowds) was a familiar figure on the corner – another Banksy for our collection.

No shortage of useful routes at Archway. Most of this trip had been nostalgic for me but Jo still has vivid memories of cycling here to Breast Screening Units, which always seem to be in the most obscure corners of large hospital complexes. The 210 avoids the mistake of its running mate here, the 41, by not heading for Crouch End but instead turns through the rather lively Stroud Green. Here we were impressed by the range of Mr Pak’s outlets – hairdressing on one side of the road and wigs on the other, was there a link perhaps, and just to make sure you were really beautiful his/her cosmetics store. The 210 completes the last of its nifty manoeuvres before arriving at the very useful Finsbury Park Station.

Truly a route with something for everyone from Mall shopping to nearby Emirates stadium at the ends with Heath, hair, hospitals, highwaymen and hills in between.

** I m happy to report that Whitestone Pond is finished complete with reed beds and newly installed ducks looking very clean – the water I mean – I cannot speak for the ducks.

The Number 209 Route

Mortlake Bus Station to Hammersmith Bus Station

Friday August 26th 2011

Well this route came at the tail end of a 4 bus trip, which is just as well as in its own right we were not sure it was worth getting out of bed for! We had taken a train from Richmond – a journey long enough to unwrap our sandwiches but too short to eat them – and walked the long way round to Mortlake bus station, which as far as we could see was home to the 209 and possibly a school route 600. While I finished my sandwich and the driver had his break Jo looked at the bus stand route information and announced the bus was supposed to take 12 minutes ! 12 minutes – call that a route? We thought 25 would be nearer the mark as these estimates are usually wildly optimistic (TfL being much more accurate). We did note that other passengers joined us by crossing the railway footbridge- presumably from ‘the other side of the tracks’. The tell-tale airplanes low overhead told us we were in West London in case we had forgotten.

There were copious signs for Mortlake Hall which turns out to be not a stately home or gracious dwelling but a venue hall mainly used by mothers and toddlers. Mortlake also seems to have or have had in its time a large (2 less large?) breweries: one gate announces the Stag Brewery and the other the Mortlake Brewery. One or two, it/they no longer brew anything, being currently up for re-development. The amount of housing proposed would certainly increase both the population and impact on bus usage locally.

Back to the bus – shortly and with more passengers than you might think for a frequent service we continued along Mortlake High Street and just as the bus turns off down Church street for Barnes village you pass two blue plaques (one unofficial to Gustav Holst musician, the other more officially for Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet , which of course has its school in nearby Richmond Park). The Terrace, Barnes, which s the location of these plaques is a very pretty stretch of housing facing the Thames.

As you might expect, Barnes village is equally pretty complete with pond and a series of tweely named shops – ‘Two Peas in a Pod’ actually a greengrocers (I never saw the point of this simile as applied to identical twins as peas in a pod are usually all different) ‘Shoenique’ (repairs as well as sales) – as well as bakery and cheesemonger and Persian carpet outlet!  There were 2 Red Lions in close proximity, which shows lack of imagination at some point.

By now we had joined the traffic along Castelnau but due to the wonders of the BUS LANE we sped past a solid queue of stationary cars the length of this gracious road. We had passed through once in spring when all the magnolias were out but today it was grey and autumnal. The reason for the queue was resurfacing work on Hammersmith Bridge – fairly recently re-opened after strengthening but now needing the road surface attended to. 'Of course if they had restricted use to pedestrians and cyclists that would not be necessary.' said Jo. Hammersmith Bridge  is at its glorious best from the riverbank of course but we did capture the fine ironwork. Having recently admired Marlow Bridge (which William Tierney Clarke designed, having impressed the powers that be with Hammersmith) we enjoyed seeing his earlier effort.

After arriving in Hammersmith we passed the extensive site that is St Paul’s School , and the unlovely Hammersmith roundabout before sweeping into the lower bus station – 15 minutes was closer to the mark but those extra minutes doubtless due to the bridge works.

Short and sweet.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Number 208 Route

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Cold, cold day, though the snow was finally melting except on suburban pavements.  Linda and I (Mary was back at the dentist, poor her) met at Lewisham bus station around 10.00 (Lewisham is a real hub for public transport, and so a good place to start)
The 208 declared itself to be going only to Catford, rather than Orpington as we had thought, and needed.  later checking of the on line timetable offered the clue 'splits at Catford' so we got on around 10.05 and subsequently waited for another one in Bromley to complete the route.

We knew the first part of the route from the 47, down the Lewisham 'by pass', past the shopping centre, the Ladywell Leisure Centre and Lewisham Hospital: much bigger than when Linda originally worked there, and with the former Lewisham Library as a lecture Hall for its university status.  Then we were at Catford Theatre,  past the Goose Pub with its handsome iron work, and Catford Bus station, effectively a straight line since our departure point.
The Christmassy effect of the Homebase pond, still partly frozen, was echoed by the fact that the street decorations were still up.  We wondered if they were still up in Bromley's twin twin town, Neuwied

We crossed the London Loop (so that's why this look slightly familiar to the North London member of the team) and noted that the Bromley Snooker Club building has been 'sold for redevelopment'.  By the time you read this, it may be 50 apartments.  

The grounds of Bromley and Sheppard's Colleges, which prove to be old people's accommodation rather than educational places, were snow-covered and picturesque.  

We chose Bromley to change buses, and waited about 10 minutes before the next 208 rolled up.  We added 'Headmasters' to our collection of punning hairdresser names. ('Headmasters' is now - 08/11 - a substantial chain, with branches almost everywhere we go) At this stage a number of students joined us, for the short ride to Bromley FE and HE College, and we were off down the hill towards Biggin Hill, along Crown Lane.  The 208 is the only bus which serves this long road, so we were pleased that the driver waited for people struggling on the slippery pavements.  Just past Petts Wood Station we saw an ambulance with its attendant fast response car, and speculated that it might be a fracture.

 The 'suburbs' of Orpington had a number of handsome houses, some older than others, since Crofton Roman Villa is here, and we admired them as we hurried through. We were soon nipping round the roundabout that has the War Memorial on it (Pro Patria) past the station and on to Perry Hall Road, where the bus terminated, at about 11.20.

We'd had an interesting trip, with some remains of the village high streets that existed when these were separate places rather than a continuous run of London Boroughs.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Number 207 Route

Hayes By-Pass to White City Bus Station

Monday August 15th 2011

During the planning of today’s outing, which at one point looked as though I might have to do alone, I did contemplate CHEATING (When the cat’s away the mice play…) . Given that we have covered great chunks of this route on other numbers I felt I could sit at my desk and piece it together from our earlier travels. BUT after some soul searching and a good breakfast Mary & I set out at 8.45 in order finally to board a bus at 10.35. The 207 waits near the Ossie Garvin (a former mayor of Hayes & Harlington) roundabout on the Hayes bypass which does what it says on the tin and is a wide dual carriageway bordered by faceless blocks and retail parks. The 207 is a bendy bus as it has nothing to do but go in a straight line, for us today West to East. We noted that the bus’s suspension leaves much to be desired and had to wait for stops before we could make notes or take photos as it was so bumpy.

We (Linda plus Mary in charge of the camera) started close to the Sunrise Plaza – now empty, but basking in sunshine today. The road seemed to be full of white vans and delivery lorries that obscured our already limited view but Mary persisted till she got her best shots. The first landmarks are the Yeading Brook - a mere trickle and then the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal, which is altogether more business like.

Talking of businesses, as we neared Southall the predominant businesses were of course Asian, with enterprises representing the whole South Asian sub-continent. Trade was quiet for some as still being in Ramadan I suspect people were leaving their shopping till later in the day. This route very much skirts to the north of Southall and before very long we were out the other side and passing under Brunel’s iron bridges built for his Great Western Railway. Ealing Hospital (not really that close to Ealing I always think) and its psychiatric wing St Bernard’s are quite a presence on the Uxbridge Road. Quite rightly the psychiatric facilities have been contracted and updated and some land sold off for housing, though the long wall that kept the patients away from the public remains as a reminder of how we used to treat the mentally ill. Fortunately the Superintendent at Hanwell Asylum, as St Bernard’s was originally called, seems to have been more enlightened than many

From this approach, as you cross the River Brent, it is easier to see that Hanwell must once have been a small village of which there is still evidence but of course later absorbed into London. A measure of how far out it was thought to be was that both Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea have their cemeteries on each side of the road. Sir John Connolly, the Superintendent from St Bernard’s ended up buried here. Both cemeteries are Victorian Gothic built to deal with the overflow (literally) from these inner London boroughs. The most interesting feature of the RC Church of our Lady and St Joseph was a banner slung across the railing saying ‘We are still waiting for a Green Man’ from which I take it they would like a crossing for this very busy road rather than a pre-Christian wicker man?

Once in Ealing it became obvious there had been looting and breakages and as we knew from countless bulletins a man had lost his life in Ealing trying to stop an arsonist. Blockbuster was boarded up, as were 2 branches of Barclays bank, Panasonic, a Pharmacy and inexplicably a branch of the PDSA? Further along, the Sir Michael Balcon Pub had boards where the windows should be. The film producer of so many famous Ealing Comedies (all filmed nearby) would not have been amused and nor were we.

Ealing Town Hall is a strange edifice looking like a clad castle  but is in fact Grade 2 listed and currently having a facelift.

Inevitably our progress had slowed through Ealing centre but the driver did hang on for a woman passenger running to catch the 207 and the bus was busier still from here on. Close by the Common there is a fine old furniture store, which fortunately had not suffered the same fate as Reeves in Croydon. The Ashby’s Staines Brewery, though it still has quite a bright sign, exists no more along with nearly all London Breweries – Fullers being the exception and one that clearly continues to take pride in its many pubs on our two routes today (the other being the 237, which will appear in the not too distant future).

We were rather taken with the gracious (and of course large and expensive) houses along Twyford Crescent, where essentially there was some well-tended greenery between the houses and the Uxbridge Road (yes it goes on and on). Interestingly both Ealing and Acton ‘claim’ them so they must be sought after! We had some time to contemplate Acton as the bus stopped for a while close to the ‘Red Lion & Pineapple’, which seems to have run two pub names together. Close by was a hideous painted brick ‘venue’ with the sign saying: “Admission will be refused to those who drink in the queue”. They must have enforcers, but it is next to the police station! Acton has a string of fine civic buildings – the Passmore Edwards Library, the less fine town hall and also the swimming pool.

From the old Ealing Studios through to the BBC at White City there is a clear thread for film related industries and along here are the places for prop hire also, and smaller studios such as Townhouse Studios in nearby Goldhawk Road (Really on the 237).

In fact Shepherd’s Bush market which runs between the Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road parallels Lime Grove, the original BBC studios so evocatively re-created in the BBC’s current period serial 'The Hour'
and this was from where much early TV was broadcast. There was some debate as to which club played at Loftus Road but in fact it is newly promoted QPR. The large and well displayed Kabul Gate greengrocers was doubtless named in a fit of nostalgia by its owners but unfortunately the name has rather les peaceful connotations for the average UK punter. As what exactly ‘The Defector’s Weld’ is supposed to mean I have no idea??

By now the remaining passengers, who had not got off at the market, left at the new entrance to Shepherds Bush station, in other words the main entrance to Westfield Shopping centre also – very soon we shall have to call it Westfield West as the Stratford one will open in a few weeks.

If you behave you can stay on the 207 while it takes that lovely tour round the White City Bus garage and into the bus station which is where we did get off – the last (and only) twirl in this route, adding the five minutes to the hour for a tour that took us from Brunel’s canal and bridge to West London’s film and TV land.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Number 206 Route

 Monday 14 September 2009

With barely time to cross the road after alighting from the 32 at Kilburn Park Station, we were aboard the 206 at 11.15.  ‘We’ were Mary, Renee and me, Renee standing in for her absent daughter.

It wasn't particularly sunny, but at least it wasn't raining, as British people tend to say at almost any time of the year.

We were bound for St Raphael’s Estate (or ‘where’s that?’) to those of us who don’t know the Wembley area too well. Our single decker bus made its way through parts of Kilburn, including the massive and rather intimidating bulk of Kilburn police station, and along Brondesbury Road into Queen’s Park.  We passed the Islamia School  as well as Brondesbury College  so we could be sure that both boys and girls from the Muslim community had private education available to them on their doorsteps.

Smart looking 1930s semis were interspersed with homes of the Brenthousing Partnership, and we remarked on how much of our two journeys had been in the borough of Brent.  

After passing several Roman Catholic Schools and the Church of the Five Precious Wounds, which told us we were in the RC diocese of Westminster, we came to the Swaminarayan School and Temple.  This is a good bus route if you want to talk about concept of Faith Schools, though of course only the Catholic Schools are actually state schools.

The 206 went round the huge Ikea, and wriggled into and out of the nearly-as-large Brent Park Tesco, and then we were allowed a few quick glimpses of Wembley Stadium before entering the St Raphael Estate, where our journey ended at 12.05.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Number 205 Route

Bow Church to Paddington Station

Tuesday April 27th 2010

Well this route came at the tail end of a trip that started with Route 69, so there is every chance the 205 may no longer exist in this form by the time we get to it. It is, it must be said, a route to make a train fan come over all weak at the knees as it passes at least 30 stations on its way, but I shall not be naming most of them, partly because trains don’t do much for me and partly because if I do I shall start sounding like the bus voice-over lady, with whom we have to live on a daily basis. Except for a wriggle north round about the Angel this is essentially a straight East to West (as we did it) or West to East route across London linking the ‘East End’ with nearly the ‘West End’ though in fact we did not quite penetrate Theatreland or the big shops.

Our last bus (and Mary who returned to water her allotment) having left us at Mile End Station, we walked back down the Mile End Road till we reached the start of the 205 and this allowed us a closer look at some of the civic buildings along here. The 205 is also related to the Route 25 which we travelled about a year ago but is a double decker affording much better views than its smaller cousin. * This being the most glorious of spring days, I had feared there would be little chance to ogle the blossom as we were traversing pretty built up areas but in fact was glad to be proved wrong – every little estate or corner or college seemed to have a tree in full glory.

This being a broad road we started off quite fast and zoomed past many of the key buildings we had passed on foot – which included both Registry offices, magistrates court and police station – the local police did not seem to travel far from their base and we spotted them both on foot at a bus stop and on horseback.

St Clement’s Hospital has long moved out leaving behind some rather fine but now desolate buildings. However the Girls' Foundation School  seems to be soldiering on in rather less than adequate premises for the 21st century.

Off behind the main road there look to be some fine old squares – College Square and Tredegar Road. Where Mile End crosses Burdett Road is a major junction and in order to help pedestrians and cyclists cross there is rather funky ‘green bridge’ covered as it appears to be with grass and plantings. We carried straight on across the Regent’s Branch of the Grand Union canal, which offers something of an oasis hereabouts. Queen Mary University is well established here with its main buildings and campus, so no shortage of passengers as it was still term time. Also the local pubs, unlike many sadly closed on our routes, were still thriving and included both the Old and New Globe plus the larger Half Moon: does this say something about students’ spending habits? In case sobriety is needed there is the nearby Salvation Army, celebrated with a statue of William Booth, plus also one of Edward VII – not quite sure why as he was no shrinking violet in social situations. We admired the entrance to the Anchor Retail Park, which evidently stems from an earlier building, and also noted the restoration apparent in the (Water Lily Block – perhaps once a local department store now being transformed – all indications that the proximity of this part of London to city wealth (Canary Wharf and the Gherkin looming on the horizon throughout) is beginning to spill over a little bit into the less wealthy neighbourhoods. Nearby Sidney Street is reminder of the area’s more turbulent history.

Interspersed with the newer bars were numerous small legal firms, with their supporting structures of stationery and IT facilities and sandwich bars alongside. The very impressive and newish East London Mosque also dominates and the little park next door was full of locals and workers enjoying the spring sunshine. St Clements may have been absorbed elsewhere but  (the Royal London continues to serve its population and community as it has for over 100 years.

On to Whitechapel and the refurbished and extended Art Gallery – by now with the roads narrowing and the traffic building up we had slowed down and by Aldgate East had caught the 205 in front – it had either broken down or been asked to terminate as all its passengers joined our bus and filled it to capacity upstairs and down. It was through the City that this route turned north, wending its way along some quite narrow streets past Bevis Marks Synagogue, along Wormwood Street and London Wall and both Broad Street and Liverpool Street stations.  Office workers were out in force and there was virtually no grass visible on either Finsbury Circus or Square for the lunchtime picnickers.

Moorgate gives way to City Road and eventually the Pentonville Road as you approach Angel from the South – it boasts two civic clocks, and also the Co-Operative Bank with its plaque to honour (though not all people see it quite that way) the Monopoly Board Game. Since our last trip along here Islington have completed their eco garden, which turns out to be a low maintenance sandy space with appropriate drought loving plants (Making Islington Greener) – let’s just hope the local dogs can be kept clear.

The traffic lanes around King’s Cross always clog and today was no exception, though we escaped faster than some along our bus lane. We still had time to note that King’s Cross beautification has not quite finished whereas the scaffolding is all but gone from (St. Pancras and the neighbouring hotel/apartment complex – such a striking memorial to Sir George Gilbert Scott it looks more like a cathedral (did he recycle an earlier building design?) and so typical of the wealth of late 19th century civic architecture rounds the UK.

Alongside us on the front top deck a German father and son combo had boarded at Mile End with quite a lot of luggage and finally disembarked at Euston – their next journey point presumably. Quite brave to choose a cross London bus when most tourists opt for the swifter if stuffier tube.

As we did our wriggle round the back of UCH (so much more modern than the Royal London) we spotted our old friend the bendy 29 heading north decorated with some interesting additions. Just by Great Portland Street we had an inspector – unusual on a single entry bus but perhaps he knows that from here on there are significant numbers of younger tourists heading for the Marylebone Road and Madame Tussauds [sic – the official website eschews the apostrophe to which the original Mme Tussaud would have been entitled]. The parish churches – St Pancras and Christ Church. Albany Street – are imposing also and have withstood the years of traffic quite well all things considered. Perhaps the wonderful ‘lungs’ that are Regents Park help keep the air moderately clean. Passing Balcombe Street was a reminder of early terrorist activity in London

For me the novelty of this route came right at the end where it does a loop and dive one road back to pass Marylebone Station, which I have never had occasion to use – very modest by the standards of the other mainlines we had passed but none the less attractive for that and interestingly it now has opposite it the back entrance to the Landmark Hotel.

Most of the passengers had of course got off well back by Baker Street and to be honest if you were in a hurry you would not use an overland service along here but we stayed with it and so I hour and 35 minutes after starting got off ourselves – the only remaining passengers – at Paddington Station after a road trip which felt in parts like a real life game of Monopoly – you pass all 4 stations (just about Fenchurch Street) and the entire ‘Blue Set ‘also.

PS Lots of updates since then – St Pancras Hotel has opened and can be toured as Jo already has done. Also, Route 25 has reverted to being a double-decker as another bendy hits the dust.

We really did see a bendy made up to look like an accordion!