Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Number 212 Route

Chingford Train Station to Walthamstow (St. James’ Station)

Tuesday August 30th 2011

We (Jo and Linda on this occasion) had barely got off our 444 when we saw the driver switch on her engine for the next double-decker 212, so little time to linger at the Chingford end of this route. Station Road is covered by no fewer than 8 bus routes which might account for the survival of so many independent shops along there. We liked the old-fashioned fascia for the Wool shop – in itself an old -fashioned skill, though with some more modern supporters.

Chingford, in its quiet way, has as many sub-divisions as the Barnets of this world. This route for example passes through Chingford Green, Chingford Mount and is one of the few routes to serve Chingford Hatch, so for the first part was a pleasant leafy laney sort of trip going south alongside the railway route on one side (not really visible) and glimpses of Epping Forest outcrops on the other. Little to report in this gently and considerately driven bus ( rather than hooting at her, the driver stopped for a woman who was crossing quite unsafely by a roundabout, ) but we noted a large green waste collection van churning the garden rubbish as it went and a local tennis club where members were taking advantage of a dry day.

Wood Street seems the transition between outer London Chingford and inner London Walthamstow, where we were headed. Once past (over this time not under) the North Circular the whole nature of housing changed – much older properties or council estates along Prospect Hill interspersed with modern flats. Prospect Hill has a wonderful Victorian ring about it and certainly this corner of Walthamstow has many of the more historic buildings. The trees overhead kept banging, somewhat to the consternation of some of our fellow passengers who, in their keenness to get off, forgot their umbrella but I never did think children and umbrellas were a good combination.

When we spotted Church Hill Road we thought this was named also for the war-time Prime Minister and MP for Chingford whose memory is remembered in estate Agents and cafes at the start of our route. However this is really Church Hill.

Walthamstow, or more precisely Waltham Forest runs a very good heritage plaque service and various buildings sport the green plaques the council has introduced and they maintain a website to support this.

We had time to admire some of these as we slowed in the traffic towards Walthamstow town centre which today was buzzing – partly with post-Bank Holiday and pre-new school year shoppers but more than anything with families out and about celebrating Eid in new smart clothes with children clutching toys.

The last thing we spotted was a car-wash proclaiming proudly ‘Totally legal’ which led to a spirited discussion of what illegalities could be committed running a car-wash.

This route in fact passes by the bus station (though this is where the drivers changed) and moves on along the railway to stop at the somewhat insalubrious back of St James’ station – it looked like a row of lock-ups and ripe for fly-tipping.

Rather than walk back along the Selborne Road (I am at a loss to explain why an inner London shopping centre is named after a famous Hampshire naturalist) we went through the High Street, now a largely pedestrianised market area, where Jo nearly bought a toy battery-powered ‘Tour de France’ cyclist. There we spotted the rather lovely Manze’s Pie and Eel shop, which hitherto I had thought to be a one-off down in SE London, but proves to have a carefully preserved /restored branch here. However not all the locals are  in favour.

I just boggle at the thought of any family abandoning sunny Ravello for smoky London and the privilege of cooking eels for the locals.

Walthamstow Bus Station has always been one of our favourites so we were happy to wait for the much more infrequent 215. Our 212 had taken under an hour but slowed in its descent down to the town centre offering a combination of Chingford charm and Walthamstow walkabout.


  1. Spoiler Alert:

    We have ridden rather more buses than we have blogged so there will be frequent postings from 213 for a while.

  2. The comment about Walthamstow bus station makes me wonder if there are any bus stations in London you've not yet visited?

  3. I live really close to J&J Wool and have never properly looked at the sign - popping out now to have a look. I wanted to email you rather than post but you have a typo at the top - Ilford seems to have crept in rather than Chingford!

  4. Joanna:
    Thanks for pointing out the error, now corrected, and apologies to all citizens of Ilford and Chingford for the confusion.

    The short answer on unvisited bus stations is that we don't really know, but we suspect there may be some outliers that we have yet to reach.