Monday, 31 October 2011

The Number 246 Route

Thursday 29 October 2009

For reasons I won't bother you with I had to get to a meeting at Chartwell, and so seized the opportunity to take the bus that plies between Bromley North Station and Westerham (only on Sundays in the high tourist season does it go on to Chartwell itself, so I was kindly met at Westerham)  I was on my own, obviously.

I noticed that the blue upholstery of the 246 had ELBC written all over it, though I did not feel particularly in East London and the bus itself was called 'Selkent'. This is a twice an hour bus, and rolled up bang on time at the attractive but underused Bromley North Station.  

We went down Kentish Way, the 'by-pass' for the pedestrianised High Street, though we turned back in to call at busy Bromley South Station (where I might have boarded had I not been a purist)

The single decker bus was busy with families of shoppers (it was half term).  There were fine views down the hill of the Kent countryside, a feature of this trip but not alas of this report, since single decker buses and no other members of the team add together to equal poor photographs) We passed an enormous RBS building.  By the time this is posted, we may all have forgotten what happened to Banks in 2009, but I wondered how much of the building I, as a tax payer, owned.

We slid through handsome suburbs, disgorging passengers along the way, but picking up very few till we came to Hayes Station Approach, with its planting of winter pansies.  A number of young people boarded, and we swept on, with long gaps between stops.  West Wickham Common is part of the empire of the Corporation of the City of London.  Keston is a widely stretched village with an ironing shop (called Top Notch) which tells you something about the wealth (and/or busyness and personal appearance concerns) of the residents.  Outside the main part of the village was the handsome War Memorial, and Keston Church, which must have been a good Sunday trudge in pre-car days.  We passed very close to Down House (any excuse for a Darwin mention in 2009) and then were at London Biggin Hill Airport Passenger Terminal (not very busy...) with its flying school and lots of small aircraft which would have been photogenic from a double decker.  Actually, with no-one getting on and off, the rate of travel would have led to blurring.  Biggin Hill War memorial exemplified Paul Fussell's high language concept with its reference to the 'fallen' of this parish who 'died that we might live'.  The other thing I longed to photograph, but missed, was a hairdressers called Fringe Benefits, which would have been a worthy addition to our collection, which we shall publish some day.

We got into Westerham several minute behind the time announced on  the timetables.  The statue of James Wolfe reminds us that it is not only Chartwell that is worth a visit.  Quebec House also belongs to the National Trust. 

Given the very small number of stops for passengers after Bromley, and the impressive rate of travel, I can't see how a driver could ever achieve his required rate:  but 10 minutes in a trip supposed to last 40 minutes is probably acceptable.  It makes one (well, me) even more impressed at the reliability of inner London buses

The Number 245 Route

Golders Green Station to Alperton (Sainsbury’s)
Monday June 7th 2010

We met at Golders Green station to do a very neat little NW London triangle which barely took us out of the two London boroughs of Brent and Barnet. The single decker 245 was the first leg and we could settle while the driver enjoyed his break – he proved to be both friendly and courteous throughout with several occasions where he let passengers off closer to the shops than the stops and certainly waited for anyone who looked as though they might want to board.

More of Alperton anon, but I had been to a party over the weekend trying to explain the Project to people giving the Route 79 as an example of the routes completed so far – naming Alperton as the ultimate destination. ‘Where’s Alperton?’they all cried (South Londoners all) ‘somewhere past Wembley’ I replied ... ‘Towards Heathrow,’ I flannelled – well now I know: read on.

Just to get the boring bit out of the way: this is essentially an East-West route which cuts across several major North-South Routes such as the Finchley Road, the A41 and the A5 at Cricklewood, the North Circular at Neasden, and even more of the North-South Rail and Tube lines – First Capital Connect, the Metropolitan, the Chiltern line, the Jubilee and the Bakerloo, the LMS (London, Midland & Scottish) and last but not least the Piccadilly, so think more minor roads, most of which must have been lanes and tracks linking villages.
Once we left the Finchley Road, noting the site of the former Tollgate by the Castle pub, traffic became quite heavy and slow for no apparent reason so we had time to count five care homes before we got to Child’s Hill, and a driver struggling with large balloons spelling out 50, which I suppose is better then 50 balloons in a moderate wind? There was also a fair amount of religion, with St Agnes RC Church (coincidentally Jo had just returned from walking through a village of that name in France and she would appear to be the patron saint variously of chastity, gardeners,  girls, engaged couples, rape victims, and virgins – take your pick) Close by is the Sadhu Vaswaniuk Mission, which is the UK headquarters, looking quite spruce and calm. 

Our little purple bus (the inside that is) started picking up more passengers round about Cricklewood as we passed the Bus Garage – a modern build one with a bright canteen on the first floor. In fact only 2 routes actually start/end here, but a lot more drivers drop by from the many passing routes, of which we were one. Most of the houses hereabouts are modest semis built between the wars with the gaps filled by Brent partnership homes. The passenger numbers increased still further with chatty shoppers and very soon a group of 6th formers going home after their first exam of the day – a Chemistry one by the sounds of it. But the pupils looked confident.

We passed under the complicated junction that is the Neasden underpass and noted a variety of intriguing shops – the Hubble Bubble CafĂ© (closed on a Monday morning), a vet's and the Quintain Street Open Site, part of Brent’s regeneration of this area following the completion of the Wembley Stadium. This includes the ‘all age’ Ark Academy  leading us to wonder whether the children go in 2 by 2… Where there are clusters of shops there were also several large-scale venues offering places to hold weddings and similar celebrations, not something you see much of south of the river. There was even a blue plaque to Arthur Lucan , apparently the creator of Old Mother Riley. I think it might have been more interesting to have a plaque to the disappearing Lord Lucan..  As we passed the East Lane trading centres and suddenly it was standing room only on the bus as many passengers boarded, again several of them students. We debated if they were all heading for the final destination that is Alperton but in the event it seemed Sudbury station was the main attraction – going west  this way the bus navigates the  roundabout twice to get in and out of the station forecourt and back to the Bridgwater Road, direction Alperton. It was feeling a bit like a free ride on a merry go round but in fact fairground afficianardos were being catered for by George Irwin’s fun fair.

It had to be the Bridgwater Road of course because after crossing all those major road and rail routes our last bridge was over the Grand Union Canal (Paddington branch) before swinging into another small trading estate mainly occupied by Sainsbury’s, starting some speculation as to whether the traders paid for having their name on a bus destination. Something over the hour promised, doubtless due to the traffic earlier on, but driven so courteously to drivers and passengers alike we could only have praise for our friendly driver.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Number 244 Route

Thursday 20 October  2011

Linda and I took the train together to Abbey Wood, to begin our first trip of the day, which was to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.  A brief step from the station, under the caverns of the overpasses, enabled us to get the 10.07 departure.  Swinging out into Abbey Wood Road, we swept up to the high railway bridge and the official stop for the station, which we could not of course use, being committed to beginning at the beginning.  Besides, it was a long way  up, whether by ramp or stairs.

Heading towards Thamesmead, we passed lots of 1960s public housing, and also the depressed-looking Bargepole Inn, which Linda has mentioned before, though as we travelled along Harrow Manor Way, the residential stock was more modern.

The themed street names told us we were coming into Thamesmead:  Carlyle,  Bentham, Disraeli and Titmuss all offering insights into politics and economics, before we passed into an avian section, including wigeon and goosander.

The streams flowing through Thamesmead provide a villagey feel, though interspersed with less rustic shopping areas.  Thamesmead also boasts some substantial residential properties. By now, our bus was full, with people standing.  Tom Cribb Road (the great pugilist retired to this part of the world, and is buried in Woolwich) brought us to Plumstead Station.

As we came down into Woolwich, we noticed that the Riverside area, so long offering wonderful apartments for sale, is now being dug up for Crossrail, and the publicity for the flats now mentions the excellent transport links of the future 'high frequency, convenient and accessible'.  Many people got off the bus to go to the market, soon replaced by students from the college. The Tramshed  is close to the central square with its large screen. So is an enormous Wilmot Dixon building site which is, depressingly, to be a large Tesco's rather than a huge number of affordable houses.

We wriggled out of Woolwich, and onto Shooters Hill, to pass the plastic tent which will be the venue for the Olympic Shooting.  (Actually, I want to digress for a moment. As I'm sure you all know,  Diamond Geezer's blog is always witty and informative, but I have to recommend especially his Olympic information entry for 27 October, which had me laughing aloud.  Also I wish we knew how to do the clever index he has.)  Now, where was I?

As we passed Oxleas Memorial Hospital, a postal worker got off the bus to begin his round.  I did not know that use of public transport was part of the modernisation process for the Royal Mail.  It seemed to  us that we were pretty well into the countryside, but we were rapidly at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, disembarking at 11.00, though we should be back there in less than an hour, as you will read in due course.

The Number 243 Route

Waterloo Station to Wood Green Station
Monday April 19th 2010

As this is trailed by TFL as quite a long route (in both senses – well over an hour and right across London), we did not expect it to be quite so popular but at 10.15 the very orderly queue stretched back quite a way so we decided to wait for the next one in order to be able to claim our favoured seats on top deck front.

Arguably this route offers most drama at the outset, when it goes straight over Waterloo Bridge (no stops as they are suppressed for road works) with excellent views in both directions. The Strand Underpass still seems firmly closed to traffic and quite soon we had passed the other end and the rather more hidden Tram Underpass which from time to time is opened for filming or art installation purposes.

Our driver seemed somewhat impatient, as demonstrated by his hooting more than once, and by the Theobalds Road we had already caught the 243 in front. From our vantage point we could see parts of Clerkenwell, but to appreciate all its quiet charms you need to get off and walk  – side streets offer some good restaurants, small jewellery and other craft workshops for those who cannot afford Hatton Garden off to the right. Apart from Clerkenwell Green there is the St John Church, the Stationers Hall and Grays Inns of Court, this being the last route number to pass this way. Inevitably the traffic was quite dense in these fairly narrow streets, with charming side streets such as Saffron Hill and Herbal Hill – not hard to guess what once went on here. There is also a plaque to Mazzini  and quite soon the bus is passing Mary’s old stamping ground and the back of St. Bart’s Hospital. Linda insisted that the pub sign for the Chequers Pub showed Stalin and Lenin playing chess, but no-one agreed with her.

Old Street is always slightly longer than you expect and moves from quite polished to slightly less smart as you progress and eventually negotiate the one-way system that gets you onto the route north and the Kingsland Road, which is full of features, most notably the Geffreye Museum, currently undergoing a certain amount of renovation.  Other interesting sights are the local mosque, modern and in an adapted old office block, the Shoreditch Library in a Passmore Edwards Building, and two hospitals: the St Leonard’s, now a day facility, and the Metropolitan, now no more but small business units. Edith Cavell trained here before nursing in Belgium where she was eventually shot by the Germans for helping allied soldiers evade capture. 

Dalston has been polishing itself up for the opening (shortly after we rode this way) of the East London Line and this is certainly one of the more impressive stations. Mary, who did some work at the old Metropolitan, was very positive about the Riddell Road market, just after you cross over the Regents canal. She also has equally fond memories of Kossoff’s Bakery which may or may not still exist.   The same might be said of Reeves Colour Works.

A young cyclist riding alongside got pushed off his bike and he fell towards the pavement – the driver stopped to make sure he was OK and before long the cyclist was again overtaking the bus. Though the cyclists have dedicated lanes these are often very narrow, and not always in the best place, making them more dangerous than not. 

We admired the huge school board edifice that is the Princess May Road Primary School, leading us to guess that Princess May was one of Queen Victoria’s daughters. Stamford Hill is famous for its Hasidic Jewish community and they were very much in evidence today though we did not think photographing them was quite the thing to do. One elder had objected to being snapped by a street photographer but the courts had found against him on the basis that the streets were indeed public though this has not prevented the police from recently stopping people taking photos when they think they might be terrorist suspects. Faith buildings abound in this area and we admired the local mosque, covered as it was by beautiful blue tiles. A helpful contact on the bus corrected us when we thought it might be a shop.

Between Bruce Grove and the full works which is Wood Green Shopping Centre we passed Bruce Castle Park, some well kept almshouses and the Crown Court, so we knew that Wood Green meant business as an area. Though we had passed several Overgound stations we were now back on the tube network.

Not the most original of routes – we had covered most sections of it before – but well worn and loved nevertheless. Mary, who had had a hard week juggling family births and deaths and the feelings around them, declared herself greatly cheered at the end of the route, which for her certainly was a nostalgic reminder of her early training and where her London-based life and career started.

There was also a plaque to the man who named the clouds: Luke Howard.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Number 242 Route

Homerton Hospital to Tottenham Court Road Station
Friday October 8th 2010

Friday is not our usual day of travel and we paid for it today – we had in fact intended to catch a Number 388 bus from Hackney Wick, thus minimising the need to return to this neck of the woods, but were thwarted by industrial action. Apparently the drivers of the 288 and several other local routes were taking selective action on successive Fridays, and this was one of them. We hope that by the time you read this they will have achieved their pay rise.   Therefore we walked back in the brilliant October sunshine to Homerton Hospital where lurks the 242. We found a brace of them with the drivers joshing with each other and ours led off pretty soon.

Our walk had taken us along Barnabas Road, named after the church dedicated to that saint which has its own war memorial ‘to the heroes of this borough’. Jo’s fondness for war memorials is more easily satisfied than my keenness for a glimpse of water, preferably the river.

Anyway, back to the bus which was very busy in its early stages. Our guess was that it had originally been a single decker, in order to negotiate the very many tight corners at the beginning of this route, but capacity doubled to meet the demand of a constant stream of shoppers. So it was that we started on the Chatsworth Road but then did an extensive square loop (you know what I mean) to take in the very high density of social housing hereabouts. Most of the dwellings are pleasant low blocks but a single high rise remains. Not only did the driver have to negotiate tight corners but also narrow streets and the inevitable road works. The crowning test was a string of Hackney dust carts coming home to roost at their depot, and you really didn’t want to argue with them. I see Hackney maintains its own fleet of refuse vehicles rather than contracting the service out to Veolia, like many neighbouring boroughs.  By the time we got to Millfields recreation ground (definitely a ‘rec’ not a park) the bus was completely full.
 After rejoining Chatsworth Road the bus was back on territory familiar to us from several other routes and we did the usual 1 way twiddle that is Dalston Lane, Mare Street and round the back of St John’s Hackney, a pretty Georgian build somewhat ‘after’ Sir John Soane. This was where the drivers changed over (there is a small bus depot tucked behind the church) so we had time to admire (!) the box junction and bridges in front of us.

From here on the route was relentlessly due south and on such a sunny day seated upfront we cooked gently as we progressed.

We joined the A10, known as the Kingsland Road hereabouts, at Dalston Junction, the current northernmost point of the new (opened May 2010) Overground service but soon to be joined to Canonbury and Islington also.  As we sped along Graham Road (it had been slow through Hackney) passing the Navarino Estate Jo reminded me that Navarino had been a sea battle in 1827, seemingly part of the Greek war of Independence, not some romantic Italian after whom the streets had been named.

More prosaically, down the road is the Red Cross and we also spotted a random building with a wind turbine – or was it merely some kinetic art or might it even be both? Just behind Dalston Kingsland station (the 2 bits will be joined) lies the well-kept secret that is
Ridley Road indoor and outdoor markets.

The Kingsland Road is not short of features: the mosque has some really pretty tiles and there are clusters of different ethnic restaurants – some very Vietnamese ones making no concessions to the English language and Due Sardi , an Italian/Sardinian joint leading us to wonder whether a ‘sardi’ was a Sardinian or a sardine?  

The presence of the lovely Geffreye Museum at the southern end has attracted other galleries and ‘creative’ outlets by which we assume they mean ‘creatives’ as in ‘Mad Men’ – i.e. they are in advertising.  Today the strong sunshine meant any photos held a strong reflection of the bus interiors but we did our best.

After Broadgate and Liverpool Street we turned westwards and out of the direct sun - by now the bus was fairly empty as there are several alternatives on offer round here but the streets were humming with office workers on their lunch breaks, so the main traffic hazard now became random pedestrians stepping out carelessly.

The Heron tower had made significant progress since we last came this way, which is more than can be said for the Pinnacle,  seemingly still stalled at the digging the foundations stage.   
 This bus being some 100+ numbers on from where we are currently who knows what the position will be a year or so hence?

One Building that has come out from under its wraps is  1 New Change opened October 2010 (just 2 weeks after we passed by) offering the usual blend of shopping, eating and offices though with the additional bonus of a St Paul’s view.

Amongst our pictures is a random Angel, not belonging either to Islington or Edmonton, that has seemingly flown in from somewhere ...

Thence over Holborn Viaduct which was as close as I was going to get to a view from the bridge and then along Holborn and its companion High Holborn. The stand-out buildings round here are the pink Prudential, which was really glowing in the sunshine, even if all links with its original company are well over, and the even older Tudor edifice on the right. Also stand-out, though for slightly different reasons are the Lego block units just as the bus approaches it last little run along St Giles, parking up behind Centrepoint, in its time (built 1963-66) one of the taller London buildings and forever linked to controversy. Not disputed is that it does cast a long shadow and can funnel the breezes so we disembarked rapidly and made our own ways home. More interesting at the beginning and end, its middle just another Hackney route: that was the 242. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Number 241 Route

Hermit Road (Canning Town) to Stratford Bus Station
Monday February 21st 2011

This was something of an initiation rite for a new lady who buses – Sue D who joined Linda for the day while other Bus ladies were being exemplary half-term grandmothers.

As TfL promised, Hermit Road is only a short walk from the mighty Canning Town station and the huge road interchange; we had no trouble finding the start of the route and the driver seemed quite chuffed to be photographed. Canning Town itself, which had grown rapidly and not altogether healthily around tallow and soap factories, not to mention the docks (Victoria Docks) and railways, was 85 % destroyed by the blitz, as the post war housing stock of today indicates. Little sign of the nearby Rathbone Road today.

London currently seems to have reached a further phase of massive redevelopment, particularly in east London, and this website indicates the long-term plans for Rathbone Market – traffic was also being diverted off the Barking Road and there was a big hole in the middle of roundabout.

We thought the route 241 was less diverted than most, as it takes a fairly back route to start with, serving Star Park and the community round there whose members boarded the bus enthusiastically. The ride hereabouts between the multiple turns, the speed humps and the potholes was a real roller coaster making both note-taking and photography something of a lottery – I know, I’ve always got an excuse: if it’s not the weather it’s the bus!

Having served the Silvertown Community the bus ranges alongside the Dockland Light Railway with the small planes overhead heading for City Airport (visibility was poor today but they seemed still to be flying) and we noted the number of hotels  that had sprung up around here, built for capacity rather than attractiveness?

It was difficult to discover whether Goswells Bakery, long time hereabouts and the manufacturer of several healthy and seedy loaves (my computer even now has a wealth of Vogels seeds and crumbs in it and carries on quite happily), is still operational having been taken over by a more rural bakery in 2009 and several staff made redundant?

Whatever, by Custom House station we had taken on substantial numbers of passengers, as we headed towards the A13, and very skilfully (would he make the dip) under this major trunk route.        

Shortly after that we were in Plaistow, which sadly has few stand-out features, and we took even more passengers on board along Balaam Street passing the Leisure Centre of that name.  The biblical Balaam was given to prophecy and poems (or possibly poetic prophecies) in Hebrew and castigated his donkey for stopping because of an angel en route – the donkey (Eddie Murphy style) then explained what was going on. No angels and no donkeys in Plaistow today.
Just as the bus chooses the left turn to head for Stratford we passed a Clegg Street and wondered whether, by the time we come to post this route, will the country still have a deputy premier named Clegg?

Stratford is of course all things Olympic and therefore until 2012 presents as a work in progress – whenever we have been through Stratford it has been in some kind of flux. Unfortunately approaching from this direction there is a negligible view of the Olympic site but a substantial view of the now extended station plus Westfield Shopping Centre. 

This was always billed as a short route and even with diversion only took ½ an hour.

PS This route now seems to have a different starting point - at Prince Regent DLR Station so the Rules committee may need to meet.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Number 240 Route

Edgware Station to Golders Green Station
Monday June 7th 2010

This proved to be one of our more seamless trips, needing only to walk through the well organised and clearly marked Edgware bus station from our number 79 to board a double decker 240. The traffic had been heavy on the way here but seemed lighter as we drove south and right away from the High Street, handsome neo-classical styling with porticos dating from 1923 (which is of course the period when the tracks and stations for this bit of the Northern Line were being built)  now tenanted by fast food outlets  and a few more individual shops. Sainsbury’s had relocated from this end of the High street to behind the station some years ago – mainly to be part of the small shopping mall and provide more parking – and the resulting site had been bought up and developed, meaning there is now a series of attractive 1990s-built low rise small blocks of private flats with well tended front parking areas which actually belied the density of housing hereabouts. The bus continues through Mill Hill (on the other bit of the Northern line of course, as anyone who has stood at Camden Town knows) crossing over a major road junction and then heading slowly and carefully up hill.

Sadly we were not able to capture the very stunning views to be had climbing up Hammers Lane but between the trees we could see far. Mill Hill seems to have three phases of development with earlier, larger properties around the Poets’ Corner at the bottom of the hill, and the later 1930s buildings half way up before the Village itself (geographically not chronologically) at the top. The Thirties properties were also impressive – private homes and private schools to match. Plus riding stables. Two developments caught our eye: The Marshall Estate a beautifully laid out area of supported retirement homes for those who had worked in the retail sector, and further up the hill the Chalet estate – in fact also known as the Drapers' Cottages  - charming bungalows. It’s nice to know that some industries look after their own.

In fact Mill Hill seemed to be full of historical sites, including the local pub – the Three Hammers – and the church where Wilberforce preached. His is not the only blue plaque as there was one for  James Murray, the dictionary man who was a sometime teacher at Mill Hill School . The pictures of him are straight Dumbledore out of Harry Potter.

As you crest the hill, and the bus takes these roads very carefully and quietly, you start on down the quaintly named Bittacy Hill and the huge 1938 building that houses the National Institute for Medical Research – it does of course have its own very impressive website with updates on the recent viruses that have a tendency to evolve and be one jump ahead of us. ‘Respect’ as my daughter says.

Further down the hill comes IBSA House which may or may not still be part of the MoD, but given the secretive nature of this ministry it was a bit hard to find out – it was the one bit of the bus route through leafy Mill Hill where there seemed to be people out on the streets enjoying the sunshine, whatever they do in their offices!

This bus is very much on its own and follows Holders Hill Road (NOT to be confused with Golders Green road – see later) and what I had wrongly thought to be the River Brent, looking rather unwell as in dried up and littered, but which later research indicates to be in fact the Dollis Brook running to the Brent at ... wait for it … Brent. This part of Hendon feels quite villagy and old with some smaller cottages left and the rather grand Arts & Crafts entrance to the Crematorium and the stained glass in the synagogue  – buses seem to like cemeteries and hospitals but on this route we only had the former. Quite unobtrusively  (this is a quiet unassuming bus) we crossed both the Great North Way and the North Circular and headed up the Golders Green Road. Having walked along it most afternoons on my way home from the school and station I knew the (shoe) shops pretty much off by heart (Dolcis, Carvela, Lilley & Skinner, you get the picture) but over the intervening mumble (40+) years most of the smart shops have moved to Brent Cross leaving mainly food shops, many of which offer an ethnic twist on Kosher cuisine or do I mean that the other way round? This bit of the Golders Green road used to have ‘our’ second cinema, now reduced to rubble or another lot of retirement flats. However the Barnet library – a staple haunt for local children, conveniently situated as it was next to Woolworth’s so you could get your books and sweets in one trip – is still standing. The bus went on up the Golders Green Road and through the barriers into the station completing what was for us a very neat triangular trip through a small corner of NW London. Were the barriers to deter parents dropping off their children in front of the station or terrorists we wondered?

The 35 minutes promised turned out to be closer to 45 but offered a most delightful and quiet trip through the lovely village of Mill Hill.
Though the Underground poster artists never seem to have been commissioned to do anything about Mill Hill, see this link for the London Transport Museum’s collection of posters promoting the residential and recreational delights of Golders Green: the first in the display is particularly fine!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Number 239 Route

Or not....

The Number 239 is our second route which does not exist any more.  This is because, in February 2008, it was amalgamated with the 170.  See here for many details.

Strangely, the 239 had had many incarnations before it died, starting in Essex in the 1950s, running between Romford and Gidea Park until 1958.  Then it was reborn in the 1960s, to replace a trolley bus (the 639) between Hampstead Heath and Finsbury Square, only to stop in 1970

Then the 239 reappeared, running between Tufnell Park and Aldwych, though it stopped at King's Cross on Saturdays and did not run on Sundays.  That lasted, with a few variations, until 1982, when the route was withdrawn.

Between 1990 and 2008, the number was reused for the Roehampton to Clapham Junction journey.  I should not like to say that it will never return,  however we do feel that we have already 'done' it, as we rode the 170 all the way from Victoria to Roehampton on 9 May this year.

To think we thought bus numbers were immutable, other than a lengthening or shortening of a route:  this one - Essex, then NW London, then SW London, proves how wrong we can be.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Number 238 Route

Tuesday 23 March 2010

This was the continuation of a journey to Barking, in order to pick up the 62, and Jenny and I (in the absence of Mary and Linda) were onto the 238 at 10.20, after a visit to the salubrious (but 20p) loos in the Stratford Shopping Centre (the bus station loos being locked)  We had also paused to look at the enormous building site for the Stratford Westfield. (O tempora, O mores! Westfield East now open and boasting, apparently, millions of shoppers, though inadequate bike parking)

We passed the Theatre Royal and St John's Church again and soon were able to admire the covered basket ball courts and other facilities of West Ham Park, which is run by the City of London.  We also passed the HQ of the 7th Battalion the Rifles TA, and the imposing Ramgharia Gurdwara.  

We wriggled through a remarkable number of National Grid and Thames Water roadworks, giving Jenny plenty of time to comment on the large numbers of tyre shops (she says it's true all over London, though I hadn't noticed)  They are often on corners, a bit like undertakers.

There was another fine park as we travelled along Plashet Grove, with Plashet School on both sides of the road, linked by a rather funky footbridge. 

We were soon into East Ham, and past East Ham Station, noticing Burges Road, where Eliza used to live.  It is now a one way street, as we discovered when we passed its other end, something it wasn't back then.  We also noted Wilkinson's Supermarket, not a name known to us, but deriving from Leicestershire. There are lots more of them now - or perhaps we just weren't looking 18 months ago.

We crossed the River Roding,  pretty canalised around here, and the North Circular before heading along London Road and into Barking town centre, arriving at Barking Station at 11.00, ready for our walk through Barking to pick up the 62.