Friday, 30 September 2011

The Number 232 Route

Monday 14 September 2009

Two buses serve the Pitsfield Road bit of the St Raphael's estate, and so we combined the two, taking the 206 in and the 232 out.  Mary and I had the pleasure of Renee's company, standing in for her absent daughter. 

Again, we had barely finished one journey when our next bus arrived.  The 232 driver seemed uncertain, as he approached the stop, whether he was ‘out of service’ or actually going to Turnpike Lane Station (which has to be in quite small print to fit on the front of the bus), but happily we were off shortly after noon.

This was another single decker bus, not surprising, given the residential areas we were going through, and the three of us had only a few fellow passengers as we headed back the way we had come on the 206. To our surprise, we paused soon after setting off,  in Owen’s Way.  The driver announced that he had been told to go ‘out of service’ as far as Brent Cross and then pick up the route from there, but he would take us if we were going to or beyond Brent Cross.  A brief reference to the Project rules (you may recall that Linda said that they were whatever we said they were) brought the conclusion that as long as he followed the route, whether or not he stopped was immaterial, so we stayed on.  A very nippy journey therefore got us to Brent Cross, crossing the 32 route, in about 15 minutes, and we alighted to make use of the facilities at 12.20.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Renee, because the 142 is very convenient for her return journey (and Turnpike Lane isn’t) and climbed back on another 232 at 13.20.  We belted straight along the North Circular, from Brent into Barnet, the graffiti reminding us that we were in Tottenham Hotspur territory, and past signs for the New River Walk.  (which we again recommend warmly to anyone who likes to walk) 

I was getting quite excited at the thought of passing Eliza’s street, but of course we turned LEFT at the Bounds Green Road, where the splendid gas holders loom, for a little tour of parts of Enfield as far as Arnos Grove Station.  Returning to the denominational theme of our previous bus, the 206, we passed the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, before heading south and crossing back over the North Circular at a rather handsome Polish Pub.

All that was left was to complete the slow Green Lanes experience to reach Turnpike Lane Station, where we ended our journey at 14.10.

Three buses today and not a single blue plaque.  These buses were going through residential and shopping areas, which were interesting but not heart-stoppingly exciting.

The Number 231 Route

Enfield Chase Station to Turnpike Lane Station

Thursday September 8th 2011

We (Mary and Linda) had taken a slightly longer than necessary, but still short, walk from Little Park Gardens through bits of Church Street (bustling and with a beautiful fish shop) and then dithered about which side of the road to be on to catch the bus clearly lurking by the station. We crossed to admire the Magistrates Court, at which point the 231 (only four an hour) sailed past on the other side of the road. This would not have happened if Jo were here, they muttered, though worse was yet to come*.

We waited in what looked like autumn sunshine – very unsure of itself – and then boarded the next 231, at 10.51. It continues along the High Street and we were pleased to see a very traditional market with stripy stalls clustered round the Market Cross. We passed through Enfield as quickly as speed restrictions allow, passed our last sighting of the New River and very soon were out along the Great Cambridge Road – a dual carriageway aka the A10.

Once on this stretch the bus went fast, stopping only occasionally by request. The scenery flew past at a speed where it was hard to make detailed observations: the road seemed to be bordered by trading estates interspersed with several allotments and some-one is building a Travel Lodge. The only place of any interest seemed to be the Enfield Edmonton Community School based on large site along the A10 called the Cambridge Campus, though I have failed to find where the rest of the school hangs out. This route plus the rather more frequent 217 must suck up some of the travelling pupils. Further in towards the North Circular (not again you cry) there are houses set back a little from the road, most of which had retained their front gardens – the reason for this we thought was that it would be difficult to drive off the A10 into your front garden. Sunflowers were very evident both here and on the several allotments.

Inevitably we reached the substantial Great Cambridge Roundabout, with little hold-up today, and continued south on the A10 still continuing in its dual carriagewayed incarnation. There were signs to the ‘North Mid’ which is the name locals give to the North Middlesex Hospital: this is the local community hospital that we had seen on our travels last week but it is a way back from this major road. We also passed the now faded flowers attached to a fence along Roundway seeming to spell out RIPOKI – I had struggled with this already and eventually came it the conclusion it said,” RIP OKI” as a more likely memorial. However I have failed to find any local connections for a dead Mr/Ms Oki and feel it may well be a tribute to a  famous horse ?

Once off the dual carriageway that is Roundway we followed the Westbury Road, which seemed by contrast quite narrow and claustrophobic but is actually just a standard inner London road. Amongst the Victorian era homes was a huge Baptist church, and then we were into the back of Turnpike Lane Station to rest up with other waiting buses.

The whole trip was under 25 minutes and that’s about all there is to say!

* See the saga of our misadventures at the start of the 221…

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Number 230 Route

Thursday 29 September 2011

This was probably the closest to summery weather we have had since Easter, and Linda and I spent the morning visiting parts of North East London.  We met at Wood Green Station and, having visited the clean and attractive facilities of Wood Green's Shopping City (opened by the Queen in 1981, we noticed) were onto our bus by 10.30.  Surprisingly, this was a double decker, despite its route through many narrow residential streets.

We headed down the High Road and under the Shopping City's Bridge, to pass Turnpike Lane Station, before turing left towards Tottenham. We passed the Catholic Church of St John Vianney, a French priest  who avoided call-up into Bonaparte's armies, and instead served the rural poor of France.  This was by no means the only religious establishment we passed, as we soon came to the  House of Prayer, clearly enjoying its previous incarnation as a cinema.  We also passed the Wisdom School, a private school which boasts 'excellent GCSE results', presumably not unconnected to the fact that they select their entry and charge £2000 a term.

Heading down Philip Lane, we came into Tottenham, passing the Marcus Garvey Library, and then took a left and right, only glimpsing the Banksy because we knew it was there. You can see it here.

 Soon we came to Tottenham Hale Station, with plenty of new-build flats around it, and we were into a watery world, crossing Pymme's brook and the River Lea (or Lee, as it says in my A-Z) to reach the reservoirs.  These waterways are becoming well known as the Lee flows through and embellishes the Olympic Park, and I wonder if we should put in an EU application for that overused title, the 'Venice of the North'.

Black Horse Road Station gave us an opportunity to admire the long-lived geraniums of the borough's hanging baskets.  This has been a good year for plants, if not for suntans.

This brought us into Walthamstow, past the Market, and that car wash which claims to be 'legal and proud' before turning into and out of the bus station, with its attractive neighbouring gardens.

Continuing uphill towards Upper Walthamstow, we travelled through residential areas, with some substantial homes.  We came to Wood Street Station, which we knew would be part of our return journey, and travelled on into the streets behind.  Parked cars and the odd bit of road works meant that our driver needed to be patient as well as skilful, and he was.

We arrived at his terminating point in Fyfield Road after a loop around the houses (literally) at about 11.20, not much later than the timetable promises, and had a brief conversation about our project as we handed over our card.  We were offered a ride back to Wood Street Station, which we declined, arriving on foot just at the same time as 'our' bus.  The delays happened as we awaited the train that would take us to our next bus.....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Number 229 Route

Monday 20 December 2010

This, the third bus of the day, began less well than the other two.  The 286 had left Linda and me at QueenMary’s Hospital, Sidcup, and we were pleased to read on the stop that the 229 was an ‘every 8-12 minutes’ bus.  20 minutes later we were less pleased, and our mood was not lightened when the bus that did arrive was taken out of service because it was cold.  So were we, by that time, with temperatures not rising above zero all day.  However, a charming 229 driver who was on his break immediately said he would take over, and so we climbed in the warm bus at 11.40, bound for Thamesmead.

We admired the little lodge in the green area of Sidcup, especially picturesque in the winter wonderland of South London, and opposite it, Bexley Register Office, a fine building, clearly with good photo opportunities for weddings.

As we proceeded into Sidcup town centre, people getting on were complaining that they had been waiting 40 minutes, though one can hardly blame the driver who does turn up! 

 We came to Sidcup Station, passing the Metal Horse motorbike shop and Marlowe House.  Linda explained that this was now the HQ for the combined Child Abuse police team for Bromley, Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley: a brilliant piece of re-organisation which may explain why police seldom manage to appear at meetings in Deptford. 

A more cheerful note was struck by an excellent shop name – hello, Little Gooner! - and the pleasant church of Holy Trinity Lamorbey, where we picked up more chilly passengers.

Old Bexley also has a villagey feel, with two sets of almshouses, Styleman’s and  Victoria Homes, as well as the charming Library.  

We were delighted that there was lots of blue sky, though it was still very cold, as we went up and over the link to the Dartford Crossing and into Bexley itself, with its enormous Marriott Hotel, and the tight turn we had experienced before to get us into the little courtyard of the shopping centre where buses stop.  As we left, the bus was completely full, with every seat on the upper deck taken, and we headed into residential areas, with almost untouched white pavements and Christmassy front gardens.

Down the hill into Erith, the pavements outside the shops were briefly clear, but then we were back into the areas where people live and pedestrians were again deemed unimportant.  As so often when we pass a commuting station, we noted a lot of new build flats around Erith Station, and as we headed on towards Belvedere, the road became less clear and then we were through Belvedere and passing the stop for Lesnes Abbey, pronounced Les Knees for those of you who don’t know the area, whose woods are the reason for the name of Abbey Wood.  The bus was much emptier as we passed the Pet Aid Hospital, run by the PDSA

We knew we were in Thamesmead when we saw direction signs to the Crossness Sewage Treatment Works.  The website isn’t the trendiest you will ever click on but the place is fascinating (Jo and Andrew have visited the wonderful beam engines on an Open London weekend) so persevere with the website!  The street names are also rather telling:  a patch of political and economic writers, including Bentham, Tawney and Carlyle, followed by a number of Dickens characters, suggesting large areas of building all at the same time.  It was very attractive in the snow, though as we came to the centre, the buildings were more 60s and less pleasing.  

The bus terminated at 12.55, at a not-very-interesting place, unless you wanted the Library or Leisure Centre.  But we did not mind, as we were able to cross the road and hop straight onto our fourth and last bus of the day.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Number 228 Route

Central Middlesex Hospital to Maida Hill (The Chippenham)

Monday June 13th 2011

We had often passed through the forecourt to the central Middlesex Hospital as many routes call there but today was our first occasion for starting and finishing a route, both of which were easily achieved. The bus waiting area is nicely laid out with the beginnings of some planting and three clearly delineated bus stops.

We had no wait at all for a single decker which is very much part of the 28 Route family, overlapping as it does some of its route. We were pretty early in the day, just on 11AM so few passengers boarding here, as we presumed they were all still sitting in out-patients or pharmacy waiting to finish up their morning appointments.

If it’s the Central Middlesex can the Park Royal Trading Estate be far behind – no?

This was our umpteenth trip through here and by now we have noticed that even on the trading estate things are clustered according to type so there are care related services/food related areas, kitchen and bathroom outlets (last week on the 226 it was flooring) and just near the hospital you find removal firms – Anthony Ward Thomas – whose strapline is: ’When your work speaks for itself- don’t interrupt’ which did not seem the catchiest of adverts. Also nearby was Cadogan Gate a- a storage depot for prestigious auctioneers Christies amongst others.  Park Royal Salvage  always looks jolly as they have a very old red bus as one of their storage facilities, but we would say that.

We went on to Willesden Junction station and noticed the growing evidence of the Portuguese/Brazilian community mainly because their outlets – shop/cafĂ©/bakery general store generally sport the Brazilian flag colours and look quite bright in a drab area. The guestimate for Brazilians in the UK is for 200, 000 or so. We were a bit worried about two girls, who perhaps should have been at school hanging around by the upstairs window of the downstairs bakery, but of course we may have got their ages wrong.

The passengers had been few and far between and just as the drivers changed at Willesden a young man, disadvantaged by lack of teeth or lack of speech seemed to be asking, as far as we could tell for Shepherds Bush and the driver waved him onto the bus – surely not we thought, we’re heading in another direction.

Alone of the many 200 buses that run hereabouts the 226 takes a turn down Old Oak Lane and Common lane - how pretty and rural that sounds but the truth of the matter is that these are roads squeezed between railway lines going in all directions (Acton had seven stations at my last count) and this means more industrial units and workshops – along here we spotted  Hip Props and flash Film Transport – these lanes lead the bus to East Acton. There is an area of quite attractive small houses which nestle behind Wormwood Scrubs , both the park and the prison and I suspect they were originally built for prison officers – not sure what their current status is. Their names as in Wulfstan and Erconwald, conjure up some Tolkienesque idyll. 

Once we crossed Westway the size of the houses increased and there were several bus stops worth of Thirties and Forties semis, which line Old Oak Road.

There follows just a little sortie on the Uxbridge Road so we sat back smugly thinking this was our way to Shepherds Bush past the strangely secretive looking Telephone Exchange and the two Queens - Princess Victoria and Queen Adelaide (pubs) when the bus took a right hand turn up Bloemfontein Road and past both the side and the front of  QPR  a club who when I write this and when we rode the bus had finished top of the Championship League and hence earned promotion (though there was the possibility of some points deduction) it’s always good to have some more London clubs in the Premiership to counteract the Northern tendencies…

Then there we were both at White City Station and the BBC – getting a very good look at the familiar view and then we did a double tour, once on the road, once inside the bus station of the wonderful White City Bus garage – the cathedral to buses – today at mid-day very empty as all the routes were out working hard. By this time we had lost our passenger who wanted Shepherd’s Bush and taken on very few more – one elderly lady wearing socks and flip –flops – a more dangerous combination I cannot imagine – and a man with no socks inside his rather creaky black lace-ups.

Interestingly at no point does the bus announcement include the words ‘Westfield Shopping Centre’ though it speaks loudly of all the stations we pass. Anyway few passengers got on or off for the shops and we noted the car park had 2.500 empty spaces this morning. The bus has to brave the totally scary Shepherds Bush roundabout and then heads back along Holland Park Avenue (we agreed the only way from here was through Notting Hill). What had been Sylvia’s rather expensive but good local deli on the Holland Park avenue had become a Tesco Metro but the area has gained a branch of   Daunt Books.

Another fairly recent (1988) addition to Holland Park is a grand statue of St Voldomyr (Harry Potter anyone?) a patron saint much beloved of the Orthodox Ukrainians.

But this 228 was never going to play with the big boys and sure enough we were soon off the main road and heading up Ladbroke Grove towards the Grand Union canal and the big Sainsbury’s squeezed between the rail way and canal. Here also is the memorial to the train crash victims – already well over ten years ago since 31 people died and many others marked for life.

The last stretch of the route is along the Harrow Road – here firmly feeling like a combination of what it once was – local meeting up point for the Caribbean community ('Mo Better Cutz')  plus some outlets for newer overseas arrivals. The Harrow Road gets quite narrow here so our progress was comparatively slow but the round trip – as round it nearly was took just under an hour. Whether it is more popular at other times of day may well be the case but for today it was a quiet experience, albeit with some interesting passengers.

PS Similar route – similar photos – repetition rules!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Number 227 Route

Monday 8 November 2010

When I think how much praise we have lavished on the Overground, it makes me sad to report that my journey to Crystal Palace was affected by two delays, one on the North bit and the other at Dalston Junction.  Linda was chilled to the bone by the time I arrived on this horrible, wet, windy, cold day (Mary being on her way to New York).
We set off on the single decker at 10.30,  bound for Bromley North. 

We headed past College Road, its name a measure of how far Dulwich College, or at least its property portfolio, spreads,  and down Crystal Palace Park Road, with its large houses.  Linda tells me many were bought up by the GLC and turned into public housing flats, but we surmised that they are now back in private hands, though presumably still flats.  We also glimpsed a Blue Plaque, but the lashing rain and fugged up windows meant we could not read it, and the web has let me down. As we have mentioned often before, the EH website will tell you the location if you know the name, but it doesn’t seem to work the other way round.  Perhaps a local historian like Steve can fill us in: or we could go back on a nice day.

Under the high railway viaduct and past the handsome water works, we were into the shopping area, with the 99p shop which replaced Woolworths striking us as quite apt, though Woolworths was a ONE penny store when it began, which shows you what inflation does.  The St Christopher’s Hospice Shop seemed well stocked.

There are a number of stations along here, including Kent House and Clock House as well as a few tram stops.  Soon we were into Beckenham, with characterful buildings, including the Listed Odeon Cinema, and the attractive church of St George, with its attendant alms houses the winding road giving quite a villagey feel. Behind and above the shop fronts we could admire handsome houses with good plasterwork detail. 

There is also a lot of new building going on and as we headed up the hill we passed signs to the Churchill Theatre before coming to the Magistrates’ Court in its imposing building.  The bus stop is still called ‘The Greyhound’ though sadly the pub is defunct.  Bromley has put poppies in the trees for Remembrance Day, but we were unable to get a good picture of them.  Bromley Town Hall is pretty imposing too, and one of the doors had ‘Dum Cresco Spero’ engraved over it:  the motto of Bromley Borough and, judging by all the new building we had seen, an apt one. 

We reached Bromley North Station at 11.05, an easy run, familiar to Linda though not to me, and showing how the villages of this part of south London maintain their identities, however much they have grown together.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Number 226 Route

Golders Green Station to Ealing Broadway Station

Tuesday April 6th 2010

Rather a strange way of joining a Northern Line favourite to the end-of-the-line District and Central Line stations, but for us bus travellers in fact the first leg of a journey taking us on a beautiful spring day to the start of the 65 Route. This was also a friendly cross-town bus, avoiding for the most part the major roads and routes, and with a cheery driver who welcomed us on board. Off we set round Golders Green's familiar landmark.

Leaving Golders Green station, this is the bus that takes me closest to my childhood home, passing the end of The Ridgeway en route down the Vale (note they don’t have roads or streets in NW11 – they have names) where it nips across the Hendon Way, which divides the rather more affluent NW11 from its lesser cousin NW2. All of this area was built up as a deliberate ‘suburb’ to house families and gave them the Northern Line to commute on. On the far side of the Hendon Way the estates are laid out and named after English hill ranges (Pennine, Cleveland, Purbeck) though there are no hills in sight. This does not, however, seem to have stopped the local council adding a Jurassic Sculpture to a local park.

In its clever way, the bus serves Cricklewood Station, on what we now know to call the Overground, and then nips across the Edgware Road, whose length we have travelled more than once. Walm Lane carries a range of buses and hosts two mosques and Islamic Centres, one with some very decorative tile work. However, rather than serve the shopping centre of Willesden Green, the 226 passes behind the scenes along Anson and Kendal Roads, offering solid family homes – we guessed they had originally been built with diamond panes of leaded lights but most of course have needed replacement. Opposite is  Gladstone Park which once had a house where the Victorian Prime Minister 'rested',  now somewhat bisected by the railway, getting us eventually to Dollis Hill. Nearby  here was one of the wartime ‘deep shelters’ built against major bomb drops by the enemy but fortunately never used – and going rather strangely by the name of  Paddock.
This bus route serves the College of North West London but little evidence of students today as they were no doubt still on their Easter break.

The bus of course routes past the fairly substantial outdoor bus area that is Willesden Bus Garage (one of the older sorts where passengers and vehicles only meet at the next stop) and then with a host of other routes delivers us to Willesden County Court, in fact located in Harlesden. Our jolly driver finished his shift here wishing us a good onward journey. Cardinal Hinsley (who he? asked one of the bussing ladies – the answer is the last but several RC Archbishop of Westminster between 1935-43) has a school named after him and we spotted a hairdresser with a flag on the fascia we had to look up. With a navy background and red diagonal it looked like Trinidad and Tobago, but we are open to correction. Along with Goaties’ Barbers Shop and the Happy Hour launderette (can watching your underwear circulate in public ever be happy unless enlivened by a drink?) we passed through Harlesden and crossed all the railway lines in rapid succession and the  Grand Union Canal too.

We then dived into the very modern forecourt of the Central Middlesex Hospital, where not a few of the passengers we had picked up recently got off.

From there it was but a short hop to Park Royal and its famous (? infamous) trading estate, the range of trades is enormous but today we spotted Stone World and Stones 4U which had locally sourced flooring available as well as Travertine, which had come a bit further!

This next bit of the route took us round some very newly built roadways, access routes, blocks of flats and parkland which had all been laid out at the same time – it seems to create a new living environment. Consulting the ‘History of London Bus Routes’ we find our hunch is correct and the 226, sole route hereabouts, was only extended to take in Lakeside Drive and Bodiam Way in 2004, with the Ealing hail & ride extensions only added in 2007. Passing a few more mature gardens we enjoyed the vibrant displays of forsythia – a plant it is hard to keep down both physically and metaphorically as it is kind of ‘in your face’, but pleasing in the sunshine. We were therefore more than a little surprised when we emerged from a quiet-seeming road into the multi-lane maelstrom that is the Hanger Lane Gyratory, dubbed the UK’s most terrifying road junction and the plucky little 226 has to cross 6/7 lanes at this point,. Not daunted, it passes a Crowne Plaza (do you suppose people who cannot face the gyratory book in for the night?) and into a rather upmarket and quiet bit of Ealing, where only the most local of local buses penetrate.

Again a pleasant surprise as we emerged onto Haven Green, which is indeed still an open grassed space worthy of the name, but we were then dumped rather hastily in front of the not very cherished Ealing Broadway station.

This intriguing and pretty wriggly East-West route had effectively taken us from North West to West London in under an hour, serving High Streets, housing and industrial estates and crossing most of NW London’s major rail and road routes without batting an eyelid.

PS Since taking this route we have returned (too) many times to the Park Royal estates and feel considerably less bouncy about them.

Also the Central Middlesex has just recently been identified as one of those hospitals who now cannot afford to repay the PFI loan which enabled the rebuild…