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.

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