Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Number 203 Route

Staines Bus Station to Hounslow Bus Station

Monday October 18th 2010

Staines bus station was something of a hybrid offering a few London buses, such as the 203 we boarded, but quite a range of Surrey and out of London buses too. The bus station is outside the Staines shopping centre and has been quite nicely landscaped with a range of predictable shrubbery, much appreciated by passengers who had been through Hounslow Bus Garage – unfriendly and unwelcoming as it is – twice today already.

We did in fact cross the borough boundary into Surrey somewhere along this route but failed to photograph this. Jo and I were somewhat puzzled as we remembered places like Ashford and Staines being in Middlesex , but they seem to have migrated into Surrey, making the latter one of the larger local authorities. Shows how out of date we are: it was apparently (thank you, Wikipedia) as long ago as 1965 that poor old Middlesex was carved up between London (loosely speaking) Hertfordshire for the north bits and Surrey for the Spelthorne area, which is what we were driving through today. So we were technically South of the River though west of the bend is more what it looks like. Middlesex remains as a postal tag and there are a few arcane sporting clubs that cling to it… As my Surrey ex social work friend reminds me Surrey reaches from Heathrow to Gatwick

I digress. We left the shopping centre behind and noted that as usual it has killed the High Street, leaving the usual collection of fast food eateries and specialist places – Pampurred Pets anyone?

Going back into Greater London this route has a few difficult right turns to negotiate but the delays these cause are easily compensated for by the significant stretches of dual carriageway, where no one chose to board the bus. Sadly not visible from a single-decker were the various reservoirs that are so very apparent when you come in to land at Heathrow – we passed along two sides of the Staines reservoir (built 1901) whilst across the road were fields with cows and horses in. Soon after comes the new looking Ashford Hospital not very easily distinguishable from the nearby Tescos, both seeming to be a bit in the middle of nowhere.

Then the bus goes into the significant amount of residential housing that seems to make up Bedfont – it was clearly once a village with a separate identity and village green but is now part of the urban sprawl. A more recent addition would seem to be the pub called ‘The Happy Landing’ complete with pub sign of Concorde on the tarmac. Given that it is now nearly seven years since the world’s loudest/fastest  plane was retired they are nearly as ‘out of the loop’ as Jo and I knowing about this bit of territory being in Surrey. Maybe the landlord is too busy keeping the peace in his pub to think about a name change – on the website most entries have been censored out??  I have included the Concorde link because I know this plane has a very wide fan base.

We emerged from the solid streets of solid houses onto wider roads built up with warehousing and cargo facilities, also spotting the ‘Animal Reception Centre’ previously and more accurately known as the animal  quarantine section. Rather strangely, this turns out to be run by the Corporation of London, the smallest, though far from poorest local authority in London.

We crossed over the River Crane, rather disciplined here, and came at Hatton Cross Underground /bus station from a different angle for once. As ever this heralded a major changeover of passengers with as many boarding as had got off. In fact it was standing room only, and a bit of a silent struggle ensued between a man trying to balance a huge suitcase and thus blocking what little there was in the way of an aisle while a young woman plus buggy was trying to pass through.

For once the bus stop indicators were significantly useless, offering such vague names as ‘Great West Road’ which runs all the way from Bedfont nearly into Hounslow. By now we were getting regular landing aircraft into our vision – undercarriage down for landing, airline affiliation legible but though Jo tried very hard with the camera the photos do not do justice as to how close these planes come to the rooftops of Bedfont and Hounslow.

By now we were on one of the familiar approaches to Hounslow town centre noting the newly built, recently opened GP Practice with a walk-in centre.

Today we were not walking anywhere except onto our last bus of the day, this longish in distance trip having taken about an hour. Unless you are a plane spotter this is not the most enthralling of routes and similar to some to come!

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