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.
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.
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.
Balcombe Street was a reminder of early terrorist activity in London
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.
We really did see a bendy made up to look like an accordion!