Monday, 31 October 2011

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 Café (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.

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