Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Number 220 Route

Willesden Junction to Wandsworth

Friday August 26th 2011

An early start was planned to enable us to complete 4 bus routes and still do our thing for the Bank Holiday weekend – what was not planned was the dreich weather which accompanied us on most of our routes today.

Willesden Junction is a significant train/Underground and Overground hub so popular for changing but few people get out as there is little to see/do in an area dominated by railway lines and sidings and rail-linked workshops and outlets (Royal Mail for example) which support these. Although there is still a quite handsome Willesden Junction Hotel and Pub  it is sadly no longer open for all of the above reasons I imagine – little passing trade – though one site seemed to indicate it was a restaurant. Nearby there is a more strangely named pub ‘The Shawl’ looking much livelier.

The bus takes all the obligatory one-way tours through Harlesden, complete with clock, and a variety of interesting-looking eating places: Jam Dam Bakery, Corcovado and the Rose Garden offering both Afghan and Persian (sic) menus, with some appropriate decorations on the outside.

By the time the bus reaches Scrubs Lane it is the only route offering a service. Our view even from the top deck was severely hampered by weather and condensation so we probably missed the likely view of open greenery – the road again crosses many railway lines and the right hand side of the road is filled with industrial units and more rail-type workshops, scrap metal etc with few Thirties-era buildings. Along the left hand side are a series of cemeteries which segue into one another – the RC Cemetery, the West London crematorium and finally the Kensal Green Cemetery. Once over Mitre Bridge there is even some green space not surprisingly known as the Scrubs. (HMP Wormwood Scrubs is on the 7 family routes...) If you like steam trains here is a short film of one passing under the Mitre Bridge.But nothing so exciting today.

After passing Burlington Dane’s School, quite a historic school now in its 1936 buildings, considered state of the art  at the time.

The route along here is busy with passengers and serves many public buildings, most notably the newer bits of the BBC, followed quite swiftly by the Westfield Shopping centre which we now need to call Westfield West. Shepherds Bush Green, like everywhere else, was damp today – we wondered whether the Ginglitz café on the Green had taken over some former toilets?? Wiki tells me it is a small venue for comedy and bands. As well as the new library the facade of the old library remains.

There are some fine mansion blocks down the Shepherds Bush Road = the Grampians and the usual run of independent shops – Hair Apparent and Paws by the Green.

By now the 220 had delivered us to Hammersmith and today a trip to the upper level of the bus station (really a mezzanine we thought, but perhaps that’s a bit posh for a bus station). The numbers 9 & 10 bus routes seem a long way behind us. Today the exit onto Talgarth Road was blocked (repairs?) so we did the whole tour. Hammersmith Bus stations and adjacent undergrounds are wonderful for travellers but the one-way roundabout that the stations have become do little for the Hammersmith residents who must feel they are permanently trying to cross the road and surrounded by traffic? The Sacred Heart High School seems resilient with its red brick façade.

On down the Fulham Palace Road which very soon, having passed the Charing Cross Hospital and the Guinness Trust Buildings, gets very upmarket, but not able today to spot any yummy mummies as it was too wet. The 220 which was clearly getting a little ahead of its time-table, loitered close to Lillie Road and we spotted the Fulham Palace Garden Centre exhorting us to buy clematis, to which I would say, ’No thank-you,’ as I am not a fan.

At this point I realised we were NOT crossing Hammersmith Bridge but heading on down to the rather more serviceable, considerably less beautiful Putney Bridge. Just before the bridge approach we were amused to pass a ‘history lesson’ namely a series blocks called after a variety of 19th century politicians – Shaftesbury (good deeds) Salisbury (Prime Minister), (Churchill (father of, we think), Roseberry (Derby and PM) and Granville (long term Liberal Party leader but never actually PM, apparently).

While we were still puzzling on that we crossed Putney Bridge – given the by now even heavier rain visibility was poor but the river looked quite angry and swollen.

The first thing which caught our eye as we crossed the river was a banner slung across the corner building:
“Say NO to the Sewage vent outlet in Putney’. As the 4 inner London boroughs (K&C, Westminster, H&F and another) are already exporting their rubbish collections to East London and Crossness they are obviously hoping the sewers can empty there too – clearly their view of SE London is that it’s good enough for dumping but the SW Londoners don’t even want to sniff it as it passes?

By now we were on the last leg of our trip along the quite narrow Putney Bridge Road bordered by Wandsworth Park and smaller older properties interspersed with some pretty pubs – we are of course very much in both Fullers and Youngs’ territory though the Hop Pole belongs to Shepherd Neame. One more turn to cross over the Wandle and down Ram Street past the now deserted Young’s Brewery – their website covers their history from founding to selling.

The 220 hurries across the South Circular and finally tucks in behind the Southside Shopping centre (very much the dustbin end we thought) and not a very fitting finish for a stalwart route cutting a substantial swathe through inner north and south west London.

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