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. 


  1. Ummm...I don't know which bus was on strike but the 288 runs from Queensbury to the Broadfields Estate via Edgware and nowhere near Hackney!

  2. Thank-you hellibird - the thing is I can't always read my own writing - what I meant was the the 388, which goes from Hackney Wick to Embankment.

  3. I don't think the 242 was ever a single decker - it started as the northern half of the 22 which was cut in half in the general splitting of cross-london routes in the 1990s. It was then named the 22B and after a few years got cut back from Piccadilly Circus to Tottenham Court Rd. It then got renumbered 242 in the purge of letter-suffixes.