Sunbury Park (The Three Fishes) to Brentford County Court
Wednesday July 20th 2011
In case you don’t know, Sunbury is just outside Zone 6 along the Thames in a westerly direction. This meant a long train ride and a walk from the station, which allowed us to admire at more leisure the pleasures of Sunbury village – our first pleasure was the use of facilities at the Admiral Hawke Pub where the friendly landlady invited us in.
Hawke actually died in Sunbury on Thames after an illustrious naval career mainly fighting the French or blockading them in the rough seas off Brittany. As a popular hero there are several pubs named after him but this one would seem to have real links.
Talking of pubs, the route 235 starts in the village at ‘The Three Fishes’ – with the smell of fish quite strong we reckoned they were frying today. The bus heads straight back to the railway station (built out of town in true cautious Victorian style) along pleasant Green Street complete with recreation ground, war memorial, RC school and those blocks of commuter flats that developers are so fond of building close to the station.
After the gentle pace of a village street (I exaggerate but you get the picture) it was quite a contrast to hit the major roundabout at Sunbury Cross, which offers one of the main accesses to Motorway M3 – tucked behind was a skateboarding park and a village clock rather dwarfed by the road junction.
We headed straight across in the direction of Feltham, which always offers signs to the The Young Offenders Institute but other routes go closer… For most of this stretch the bus passed a series of request stops and remained fairly empty – the road was bordered by bungalows and a little further on actual fields, which looked as though they had been harvested – Jo’s guess was barley – but whatever it seemed a little incongruous.
By this time we were approaching Feltham and spotted ‘Always & Forever’ – you’ve guessed it: a bridal shop. I started muttering about over optimistic shop names but today happened to be Jo’s forty-somethingth wedding anniversary, thus proving that the most cynical may also be the most faithful.
We had passed a couple of attractive pubs and then just rounding a corner stopped at the Three Horseshoes – we thought the bus might be waiting as he had gone too fast but in fact this proved to be where the drivers changed over and after the usual seat adjustments we were off again and down the road into Feltham; for us back on familiar territory from earlier routes. Feltham has a strip- rather than square-shaped green complete with war memorial and this is where the passengers piled on board complete with two buggies. And standing room only. Given this is quite a straight route, no real twists and turns and wide roads we wondered why they had not gone for a double decker although the singles came thick and fast.
Along the Staines Road we passed the Calen Centre, which offers a display of various aids, adaptations and gadgets to help the disabled remain at home and more independent. Hounslow runs this particular facility, though often these shop fronts are private initiatives. This part of the route was familiar (we had travelled it before on Routes 116 and 117): buses tend to go fast past the Baber Bridge over the River Crane, which is quite walkeable, Hounslow Golf Course and Hounslow Heath once deemed the most dangerous place in England. I suppose this may account for the number of old pubs, of which we passed many today – a refuge for the travellers but probably a hideout for the highwaymen too.
Our transit through Hounslow today was pretty swift and the large number of passengers dispersed, doubtless for the shops, market and trains – all on offer in Hounslow. It also has one of the less agreeable bus stations. Our much emptier bus headed further east towards Isleworth, past Thornbury Park and West Thames College, where there was evidence of recent regeneration and new builds. With the academic year about to finish everywhere this week it was a bit depressing to notice the college was already advertising for next year. Have you noticed all those curvy banners on posts that everyone seems to be using for their streetside advertising – we’ve seen a spate this year for everything from house sales to cafes. It will be interesting to see how long they last. Being, as just noted, so close to the end of term we were delighted to see a primary school child enter the bus complete with a home-made but very professional looking mortarboard. We debated whether schools were now holding ‘graduation’ ceremonies for Infants to Juniors or whether this was an aspiring mother who had made an excellent fancy dress choice.
Just after Isleworth station the bus passes the gate of Syon Park, which in fact none of us have visited, perhaps because it’s a private property not with one of the well known chains (looking on the National Trust as the John Lewis of stately homes). Not surprisingly the streets and homes close to the Duke of Northumberland’s seat look like the remains of a feudal village and the roads become quite narrow, especially on the approach to the bridge over the Grand Union canal by the Brentford Lock. This was the only real delay on this route with a contra-flow system but even that hold up was minimal – first come Brentford Magistrates Court then if released from there you can nip in for a quick tattoo at Ouch before arriving at Brentford County Court and the end of this particular route.
Hounslow has displayed a variety of history boards outside the court telling how the local Catevellaini defeated Julius Caesar whilst en route to Verulamium (not via the 84, or should that be LXXXIV methinks) – later conflicts include locals versus Cnut and an interim battle (Royalists marching from the West) in the Civil War: on this occasion the Royalists won and men drowned trying to escape. Brentford was of course always strategically important and the local borough Hounslow are quite right to help us remember.
This gave us quite an interesting end to our trip which started with a naval conflict (Hawke having fought at sea) and ended with a variety of land battles, and this enlivened a pleasant enough route which took us about 55 minutes.