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

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