Friday, 25 November 2011

The Number 253 Route

Hackney Central Station to Euston Station
Thursday November 24th 2011

We have been rather slow through the 250-60 route numbers, mainly because there were none we had travelled earlier as return routes from other numbers, so we have been tackling them one per week. This week was the turn of the enigmatic Route 253 and in order to avoid further delays and getting bogged down in NE London overall I (Linda) decided to travel alone while Jo and Mary were otherwise occupied.  On paper it looks a strange loop, swirling away into North London and not that dissimilar from the 254 – in fact they share a NIGHT bus.

Getting to Hackney Central on the Overground proved easy enough and the latter is a nicer station than it might appear form the outside. I of course chose the wrong exit, so watched a 253 sail away from the stop but had scarcely time to draw breath when another, clearly destined for EUSTON, arrived and myself plus three waiting passengers I’d already spotted got on. Why did they not get the previous 253?

A young woman with Rihanna-style hair (red and over one eye) and myself were the only ones upstairs as we drove off through Hackney avoiding the delays that often occur round Mare Street. The bus made rapid progress to Clapton, barely seeming to call at stops but waiting patiently at zebra crossings. To be honest, it’s a while since we’ve been to Clapton although it featured heavily in the early days of our Project so it was quite nice to be back alongside the ‘pond’ which gives its name to the stop and then round the Leabridge roundabout to continue in a straight line. Buses have always nestled in the middle of the roundabout and sure enough the double decker 38s, one of the first routes to be ‘unbendyed’ (not a word that will find its way into any dictionary) were neatly ranked.
Though I have not been able to find out whether there is any significance to the random tree trunks ranged along one side?

Straight on through Clapton and in fact it is only this pair of buses that offers this service – it is a red route too. The bus passes Casenove Road but I am unable to confirm whether this was named for the eminent stock broking family though it seems more likely than not and hints at Hackney’s more illustrious history. Along the Lower then Upper Clapton Roads there is wide range of housing – mainly post war flats but some Victorian villas and interwar semis, which are rarer round here. Past some screening conifers I noticed an all girls Muslim School playing netball in a green and white uniform (one of the new faith free schools perhaps?), and by the time the bus heads its way towards Clapton Common the other significant religious minority – the Hassidic Jews – are increasingly to be seen.

For the last few stops both the indicator board and the announcements have been saying ‘This bus goes to Stamford Hill’, which was rather annoying as it had not been the case when we started, so when we duly arrived at ‘Stamford Hill’ we were told ‘This bus terminates here’. ‘Rihanna’ and I climbed downstairs and watched the driver let a mother and buggy on board. Puzzling. As we rounded a gentle corner (think of the route as a horseshoe with us reaching the top) into Stamford Hill I went to ask the driver if he was continuing to Euston – answer came there none – so we climbed back upstairs. After about ten minutes of silence the indicator board sprung into life again and informed us we were heading for Euston.

Today with the weather clear and bright it was suddenly apparent that Stamford Hill is indeed a hill, as we had an excellent view right across North London with Alexandra Palace sitting squarely on the near horizon.

Moving from post code N6 to N4 meant our arrival along Amhurst   Park to join the lower half of the Seven Sisters road at the Manor House Road Junction – back on the Piccadilly Line after a series of railway train only stations. The bus travels alongside the Finsbury Park, which gives the impression of being a rather linear and not very interesting park – more of a glorified recreation ground, though it does have fairly grand gates.  Some of the buildings on the road side (left hand) are being renewed by Hackney in places.

Just visible in the brickwork for the station named after the park is a sign for the Great Northern and Electric  Railway. I am presuming this is a reference to the Piccadilly Line as opposed to the railway being electrified in 1971? However what really catches the eye is the Arsenal shop below – today being a GOOD day to celebrate North London’s premier team.

Hereabouts we joined the route of the rather memorable Number 29 which seems to be the bendy still hanging in there …  and down the Camden Road we went together, Talking of togetherness we had followed both a 254 (not departed elsewhere) and caught the 253 in front with which we played chase for the rest of the trip.

Camden Road has many familiar landmarks; more familiar to Jo who can walk to them any day of the week and they include the City and Islington College with its effectively noticeable ironwork wall and the low windowless redbrick that is HMP Holloway. Soon after there is what looks like a disused twin towered church though the brickwork and glass looked to be in good condition. 

The run into Camden Town was inevitably slower, so time to notice a pair of Converse trainers hanging in a tree – part of a bullying or other trick? A glimpse of the canal as we passed over it before it reaches the busy market round the Lock. On the corner is ‘The Twins Coffee Shop’ with no apparent explanation for the name and while I was wondering what this was about we finally overtook the 253 in front. With all the one-way traffic through Camden this was relatively easy to manage. I have a real soft spot for the paint shop even more so with a home decorating job upcoming.

Once we reached  Mornington Crescent  ( I only insert these here as they set a standard for coherence and logic to which the rules for our own project aspire) the 253 continued straight ahead (as indeed had been the whole trip) down the what I always think of as that dark chasm alongside Euston station. Perhaps  cursed in some earlier incarnation,  but the sun never seems to penetrate down Eversholt Street with its Royal Mail and train offices all handy for Euston station. And finally the only right turn of the trip – into the bus garage.  

Given that the driver was clearly not very interested in communing with his passengers I did not bother to leave him a card. A more streamlined journey than I had anticipated, but a not very relaxing 50 minutes. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Number 252 Route

Hornchurch (The White Hart)*  to Collier Row * Not The White Hart but an Italian Restaurant
Thursday November 17th 2011

Jo and Linda met at the now familiar Hornchurch, which since our last visit a couple of weeks back had sprung some road works close to where all the buses revolve. Never mind: we were off pretty soon and heading south via Elm Park for a destination ultimately further north and towards the country (this is a generic and not scientific term and applies to those green areas outside Zone 6 of the Travel Card area.)

Our first landmark was a recently restored brass plaque on a gatepost – restored in July 2011 because it had been nicked in May 2011 – commemorating local boy hero Jack Cornwell, who had stood by the deck gun as he was told, though shot down on HMS Chester during the 1916 battle of Jutland. Jack was finally laid to rest in Manor Park Cemetery after every school in the country had posted a photograph of him, and is very much seen as a local hero. The gun  itself is now an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in which both of us need to declare ‘an interest.’

Just to prove that we do not solely spot historical things, we noted close to Hornchurch station both a bridal shop and Pink Pointes ballet wear. More generally useful is the fact that this bus serves St George’s Hospital, which looked to be one of the few complexes which has not had a 21st century rebuild. Indeed while the lower floor windows had been clearly replaced those on the upper floors looked in need of some TLC. The services appear to be mainly for the elderly.

The hospital had in fact been built in 1939, and was used by the airmen from the adjacent Hornchurch Airfield; originally a World War 1 airfield,  but not popular at that time as the accommodation was under canvas but then resuscitated for the World War 2 airmen whose names are commemorated in the street names hereabouts.   The pub sign (The Good Intent) is in fact an approximate picture of a Spitfire plane (though the name is not at all plane related) and its designer RJ Mitchell has given his name to the local school, though unlike Jack Cornwell he was not a local man.  Mitchell was the subject a film directed by and starring Leslie Howard called the ‘First of the Few’.

Having passed Airfield Way the bus then took Coronation Drive towards the centre of Elm Park. We decided the ‘coronation’ referred to was that of George VI – he of the speech impediment and smoking habit. 

The area was clearly laid out with wide avenues between generous roundabouts and shopping parades by the station, with decorative street furniture, and was originally seen as a ‘garden city’ – some locals now have a different and rather more jaundiced view. Whether he was expecting to catch some ‘chavs’ we were not sure but a bus inspector boarded at this point. The garden bit of the original scheme still holds true as we passed some open common land complete with now picked-over blackberry bushes and a riding school.

The bus then turns away from this glimpse of semi-rural Essex and back to more Thirties properties and Roneo Corner whose history we covered back on the Route 248. Even more nostalgically as we crossed the busy A124 Road and spotted the Number 5 bus heading, as were we, towards Romford.

Along with the wealth of bus choices we did the ring road tour of Romford delivering and taking on passengers in greater numbers of course. We are still recovering from the shame of ‘going the wrong way’ 2 weeks back so the least said about Romford the better today. Suffice it to say we have more or less walked the entire ring road due to turning the wrong way.

Today and for this route only we were heading towards Mawney which we take was once a village, now well absorbed into Romford. We also crossed the mighty A12, which promised travellers Southend and points east. However the 252 continues as a sole route north up Mawney Road and White Hart Lane (Not that one) mainly through suburban residential areas. For much of the route the designated cycle lane was parked up with white vans, occasioning a rant from Jo. It has not been a good few weeks for London cyclists so that is understandable.

After one more turn we arrived rather more suddenly than we had expected at our final stopping place in Collier Row, named for its once local charcoal burners.  Unlike Elm Park, close to the start of our trip, Collier Row though of the same Thirties era does not benefit from an Underground station.

Definitely an Essex bus south and north of Romford but with more interesting features than we might have anticipated and taking about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Number 251 Route

Arnos Grove to Edgware
 Monday February 7th 2011

Today was Jo and Linda while Mary was resting her back after some slightly too strenuous child care. Because of continued road works on the North Circular we had been slightly short-changed on our previous route (the 141), so rather than walk from Palmers Green we had ridden 2 stops on the Piccadilly line but were therefore able to admire both the inside and outside of Arnos Grove Station. I had hoped that Solar Penguin, who photographs stations, might have visited this one but he seems to have skipped straight to the Bs, which is his loss as Arnos Grove is one of the (cliché alert) jewels in the Piccadilly Line crown. As it happens Jo had just given me as a birthday present ‘Art Deco London’ so we were able to look up the designer of the drum shaped ticket hall (Charles Holden) said to have been inspired by Stockholm City Library.  Sadly the exhibition will be finished by the time you read this …

From this you can guess it was no hardship to wait the 10 or so minutes for the modest single decker bus, which we boarded along with a handful of other passengers.  The purpose of this route seems to be to link the Piccadilly with both branches of the Northern Line so it carves a very much east/west route well outside the North Circular,

We started by heading through some fairly standard residential areas, interspersed with the usual odd Business park, low key local shops, and a multi-way roundabout called Betstyle Circus; the reality is rather less spectacular then the name though I gather the whole area used to be Betstyle before being renamed New Southgate in favour of the then new station.  

Talking of stations: once we had passed through Whetstone town centre, quite an interchange, we came to the penultimate stop on this bit of the Northern Line – Totteridge and Whetstone – after which the 251 was very much on its own. Essentially most passengers boarded here and then hardly anyone got on or off for the next dozen or so bus stops. Obviously speed came into the equation, which made photography even more difficult than it usually is from single-deckers.

Residential housing comes in various shapes and sizes, starting with terraces, moving to semi-detached (much favoured in NW London), then more detached with integral garages and set back. If I tell you the houses in Totteridge seemed to be so far set back as to be almost invisible, with signs to two golf courses (Totteridge and South Hertfordshire), ladies in riding gear and the odd Range Rover you can see they are not the sort of people who take a bus. The streets have names like Badgers Way, Horseshoe Lane and Grange Way and peter out into green areas, which are generically Totteridge Common. Even on my new A-Z (2011 version updates the 1983 one) there is little new building round here, ensuring the properties remain un-overlooked. Later research tells me that one of the bus stops is named for the £12m mansion of Montebello, so probably the locals could afford to buy the bus company!
The architect here was Philip Jebb a possible contemporary to Charles Holden but with  rather different style and clients.  Jo thought I had misplaced a comma or zero but no.

In fact the route is on something of a hillcrest with the Dollis Valley  to the north and the Folly Brook to the south, though the two join up. I am sure the locals would not have permitted a double decker bus round here (and to be honest there is probably not a call for it) but the taller vehicle would have offered tremendous views both ways.

The only non private building we spotted was the former St Columba’s School (former pupils /staff known as Pelicans) which has now been closed for 5 years – Catholic priests not being greatly in demand….It’s not clear whether they have managed to sell on the site – perhaps one of those parent groups who want to run their own establishment might want to make a bid?? 

Well, all good things must come to an end and we came down both Highwood Hill and Holcombe Hill and quite surprisingly out at a roundabout, where we crossed the A1 at Mill Hill Circus – a well known traffic slow spot – and then along the well provisioned – every food taste catered for – Mill Hill Broadway until we drove in and out of the bus and train stations: like the third circle of hell they lurk, unloved and unlovely beneath the M1 itself.

From there the bus crosses the extensive Watling Estate – cottage style homes for Londoners built between the wars and still going strong. Burnt Oak station is not as handsome as some.  The area has a newish hospital too: previously the Edgware General with in-patient beds it is now more of an outpatient resource and much more accessible than Barnet which also serves the local population.  Tehj only puzzling shop was Kabul Gate Seafood as we were not aware of Afghanistan having a coast? Once past the hospital and impressive TA Building we turned right and negotiated the awkward turn into the very pleasant Edgware bus station, from where soothing music was sounding. A fitting end to a very unique 40 minute bus ride taking us to places we would never otherwise go.

Not that we needed soothing, just relieving before we headed south on the good old Northern line. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Number 250 Route

West Croydon to Brixton
Tuesday October 12th 2010

Mary, Jo and I are all pretty familiar with Croydon, having either lived near there or had close relatives to visit, so it holds few surprises. The bus routes hold even fewer surprises as they all seem to duplicate each other 70% of the time, meaning that it is quite difficult to find much that is new to say.

Today found us going back and forth between Brixton and Croydon in pretty much a straight line, as of course they are joined by the A23. It does not seem a very demanding drive – compared to some – with hardly any turns: the only challenge is waiting for the trams to take priority as you leave Croydon.

We all remember how Croydon used to be so impressive – back in the Sixties it had a Manhattan-type canyon of tall modern buildings with an early example of the purpose-built (if draughty) shopping centre. As Jo reminded us, the reason it was possible to build so comprehensively after the war was because Croydon suffered more V1 Bombs falling on it than the whole of London put together due to some judicious ‘false propaganda’ put out on the radio. It now seems to be in something of second wave of needing rehabilitation. Croydon’s rail links are second to none but it is now also linked to the Underground system from West Croydon and this should help stimulate the local economy somewhat.  [This paragraph was written many months before the 2011 riots, which of course hit West Croydon very hard – our sympathies to the affected local residents and businesses.] 

This route was also a good illustration of the ethnic diversity of South East London as we went through areas where the food outlets, whether shop or restaurant, move from South to North India (vegetarian to Halal) with temples and mosques to match. Norbury and Thornton Heath seem to have a more settled Caribbean flavour and by the time you get to Streatham the Somali preferences come to the fore. In Brixton of course the whole world meets, which might explain why they have quite so many bus routes delivering the world to its doors and markets.

Round the Whitgift civic pride ensures that the central reservation beds are well tended with an interesting collection of ‘dry weather’ plants. Not all of ‘old Croydon’ was wiped off the map as the old church and ‘ghost sign’, not far from the Mayday hospital show.

Thornton Heath signage promises both clock tower and ponds.  The latter bit of naming has puzzled me for 40 years – unlike Clapton there are NO PONDS visible.  As far as I can tell the ponds (useful to water passing cattle and horses) were enclosed when enclosure happened (that would not get me many marks in an exam but I am sure you are all with me) into farmland so there have not been ponds for years. The clock tower, on the other hand, is very evident: it was built by public subscription, a bit like in 'Back To The Future' .

Can you tell I’m a bit bored on this trip!

Anyway: back to Thornton Heath, which is where this route does some deviation heading towards the right hand route through Norbury – a quiet residential stretch with pebble dashed houses. Those to the right must have wonderful views out to the back as the whole area between the railway line and this bus route (Green Lane and Parchmore Road) is a series of parks and sports grounds. Like the surrounding housing it dates from the Thirties, with a children’s playground added later.

At the end of Green Lane the route joins several others heading straight north to Streatham and the first really viable pub for some time turns out to be the ‘Pied Bull’, a Young’s pub. On a trip where nice looking OPEN pubs were few and far between this and the other Young’s pub at Thornton Heath (‘The Railway Telegraph’) led us to the conclusion that Young’s do look after their establishments more then most.

Just passing St Leonard’s Church in Streatham there was a brief tailback because of finishing road works, which gave us the opportunity of pondering what exactly wig suppliers might be supplying? Also the Maq-soud restaurant promised Italian – Turkish  - Somali dishes, which gives you some idea of which empires once ruled Somalia.

This end of Streatham still has both Karting and Ice Skating, whereas up the top end the bowling and the night entertainment venue Forum had both closed. Today we even crossed the major South Circular and A23 junction without stopping. The last stretch of the route already reaches into Brixton. We know the prison is only one block back but today we glimpsed the windmill. In fact according to the website major restoration is about to happen with the sails taken down, so they will not be visible for a while.

As some sort of compensation we spotted the newly arrived heron weathervane just opposite the Ritzy, which cheered us up. (Pleased to report that’s it’s still there a year later so probably counts as permanent.)

It shows that even on a familiar route there can be novelty and we did enjoy some details of plasterwork even amongst some otherwise rundown buildings.

Do we think 250 marks the half-way point?

Broadly speaking the numbered buses stop at 499 with the odd 600 routes designated for school use – there are also significantly more ‘missing routes’ between 251-499 than in the ‘half’ we have completed (see the 218 and 239) so the answer is probably ‘yes’.

On the other hand there are about 107 ‘LETTER’ routes including the trams which is about a year’s worth of travelling at our current average of 2 buses per week…

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Number 249 Route

Thursday 10 November 2011

Anerley Station:  North Londoners may be a little vague as to where this is, and the answer is either (a) down the hill from Crystal Palace or (b) the end of one bus route (from Brixton, and you will read about that sometime next year, I guess) and where the 249 begins its journey to Clapham Common North Side.

We waited almost no time at all, and were onto the bus by 11.00, turning right out of the station with fine views ahead up the hill.  The Thicket Tavern appeared derelict, but  has recently been sold (the estate agent's website does not say to whom) and so may recover.  Past the Station, we came into the villagy feel of Crystal Palace, with its mixture of shops old and new, some with change of use still clear.

 As we travelled alongside Westow Park, we commented on the large number of green spaces around here, and indeed along the whole of this route.  The mixture of fine, late nineteenth century, housing and more recent additions brought us to All Saints Church, where we took a very sharp right to take us back down the hill.  Charming mock tudor villas occupied the service road to the right.  We were a bit puzzled that there should be a pub named the Beulah Spa, but the excellent website of the Norwood Society explains all.  Any water recommended by Faraday must be worth a sip.  When someone sent a  "sample of the water to Professor Michael Faraday for analysis'', Faraday sent back the analysis with the added note:- ‘This water is equal to, if not superior to, the waters of Bath or Wells.’ "
The bus then took us back up hill and along the ridge, our double decker managing the varying gradients without any problem.    The British Home used to be called the Hospital for Incurables, and was founded partly as a result of campaigning by Charles Dickens.

The next green area was Streatham Common, which brought us up to the A23, where we turned right, past the war memorial, which is of a soldier standing with head bowed and rifle reversed.  Apparently there was no inscription on it until very recently.  

Streatham Ice Rink was looking very pink;  we passed both the Manna Christian Centre and advertisements for Arabic Classes and offers of a free Qur'an at Streatham Mosque, as we swung steeply right up Mitcham Lane.  Soon we were enjoying the green of Tooting Bec and came to St Anselm's Church, which has a pleasant green dome, though otherwise appears rather forbidding.  It has a shop and a school attached.  

Tooting Bec station indicated that we were beginning the part of this route which follows the Northern Line.  We admired Du Cane Court, with its white facings and interesting history (would the Nazis truly have wanted to use it as their HQ?  Still the transport links are good).  Hildreth Street Market now has a Sunday market, as well as the everyday one we saw.  Still going along the route of the Northern Line, we passed Balham Station.  We were also running along the Cycling Superhighway Number 7.  The Northern Line was working well, which is more than could be said for the superhighway (honestly, who thinks up these names?  blobs of blue paint do not make anything super, or indeed a highway)

The former cinema is now a Majestic Wine shop, and the former South London Hospital for Women and Children is now a supermarket.  Almost immediately, we were heading along the South Side of Clapham Common, passing the pond and the handsome new buildings of Lambeth College Sixth Form Centre.  We swung left, to cut across the common to reach the Old Town, where out bus terminated, at 11.55.

This had been a really attractive trip, helped by being on the upper deck and therefore able to admire the many green spaces and the mix of housing and public buildings.

Just to finish with, I'm adding Nicholas's picture of a bus. That's what happens with grandmothers:  obviously this bus thing is embedded in the DNA, and for someone only two years and two months old, I think this is pretty good.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Number 248 Route

3 November 2011

Our trip on the 248 was prefaced by a fairly long stroll around Romford.  Linda and I are not at our best with directions, and Mary was not with us to be the voice of good sense.  After about 40 minutes we realized that the 248 bus stop was just across the road from where we had ended pour previous journey (we had thought that we could walk through the Liberty Centre, take a right and reach St Edward’s Way.  Still, as the Wombles used to say, ‘exercise is good for you, laziness is not’, and we were compensated by the rapid arrival of our bus, the only double decker of this four bus day round the South East corner of Essex. (the outstretched arm in the picture is the sleeve of the Project's logoed hoodie, by the way).  It was almost 13.30

Our detour had given us a chance to admire the huge tank left over from the Brewery, when it was a brewery, which we should not have been able to photograph from the bus.  The we were off on the familiar tour round the town, taking in the station and Professional Music Technology, shortened to PMT, which makes us smile every time we pass it.  Here we changed drivers:  this has happened on previous visits, so clearly it is a convenient place for drivers going off duty.

Heading out of Romford, with the massive YMCA looming on the skyline, we passed a small, overgrown park.  Eavesdropping on our neighbours on the other front seat, we learned that, since it had been taken over by a private company, possibly for development, it had been both fenced and neglected.  We passed the end of a street named Roneo Link, which proves to be named after the factory which made copying machines familiar to those of us old enough for Freedom Passes.  British History Online has this to say about it:

The local tradition of light industry, well established by the end of the 19th century, has since then been continued and extended. The largest modern factory is that of Roneo Vickers Ltd., manufacturers of office machinery. It lies at the junction of South Street and Hornchurch Road, now called Roneo Corner. It was on the Hornchurch side of the old parish boundary. During the 1890s part of the site was occupied by a bicycle factory. The Neostyle Manufacturing Co., later Roneo Ltd., opened its works there in 1908. In 1975 Roneo Vickers was a subsidiary of Vickers Ltd. 

Sadly, another of the former enterprises, the Lovable Brassiere factory, does not appear to be memorialised in a street name (and, by the way, the only company I can find of that name is in India).
On the way to Hornchurch, we passed a dance shop called 'Tappy Feet', as well as the Harrow Pub and Harrow Lodge Park.  As it was just before 14.00, our bus had filled with students, who now disembarked for Wingletye College.  Road works for the water company slowed us down, and there were more roadworks among the shops of Hornchurch.  We had time to notice the 'Oh My Cod' chip shop.  Along Butts Green, and past Emerson Park Road, the bus was briefly 'on diversion', and then we came to Frances Bardsley School.  Aside from the fact that she established the school in the early part of the twentieth century, I have been unable to find out anything about her.  Whether she was very rich and hired teachers, or merely taught the girls herself is not clear

Upminster Bridge is separated from Upminster by an attractive village green, with a windmill.  We swept past Upminster Stationwithout going into the forecourt, and after this the bus was nearly empty as we admired handsome houses, some old, some less so.  A fenced off stately home-ish place was not identified and except for saying that it is NOT Cranham Hall, I don't know what it is.

Soon we were into an extensive area of housing, much of it former public housing, we concluded, and we reached out end stop, in Lexington Way at 14.10.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Number 247 Route

Romford  Station to Barkingside Station
Monday April 18th 2011

This was to be the 3rd bus of a day spent entirely in Essex. A short walk through bustling Romford centre – even not on market day it was full of families enjoying the spring sunshine during the Easter Holidays. We promised ourselves that next time we would try to get there on a different day of the week.

There was a short 10 minute wait and then the double decker 247 took us round and out of Romford in a northerly direction. We noticed that Romford now has three 'Centres' ; the Liberty, the Mercury and the Brewery.
Perhaps we need to come back after dark to sample ‘one of the most vibrant night-time economies’ as the Havering website puts it – not sure the PR guys quite thought that one through.
(Presumably this is where TOWIE spend some of their time?)

When all that partying and consumer spending gets too much for you, on the route out of Romford you can indulge in Simply Floating, which does indeed offer flotation tanks – Jo thought they were a form of torture (could she be confusing them with water-boarding?) but more likely a legal form of relaxation .

More prosaically further down North Street is the vast and quite imposing East London Bus garage. (Later on the trip we were to overhear upstairs a ‘separated’ dad on an outing with his daughter explaining that the East London buses had air conditioning whereas the Central London ones did not – we made do with some open windows. To be fair he was full of lots of popular science – how to start fires by magnifying sunlight, rotation of the planets.

There are several bus routes along this stretch which then arrives at the rather Thirties looking Collier Row – I was bit puzzled as coal never seemed to be part of Essex’s riches but according again to Havering council’s website:
“Its name, however, still shows its links with the past, as the colliers were the charcoal burners who inhabited the area from the earliest times. They made charcoal from the many trees growing on the slopes overlooking Romford. The Romans were here before them and pottery and domestic remains have been excavated.”

After taking a circuit of the roundabout – much beloved of Thirties developers we ran into our first slowed traffic of the day, due to some road works along Collier Row – there were many cars, also perhaps to be explained by the seeming lack of trains both underground and overground round here – this bit of semi-rural but still heavily populated inner Essex seems to be in something of a public transport vacuum so the buses are the lifeline for locals without cars. 
The signposts kept promising us Havering-atte-Bower, perched up on a ridge (there aren’t many hills in Essex) and with a well documented history but we shall have to wait  another 100 or so bus routes before we get delivered there. It obviously gives its name to Havering borough, which we were about to leave, briefly for Barking & Dagenham before settling down in Redbridge.
Then there we were bowling along between fields of arable land – no cows or horses this time but what might have been wheat, with  mustard yellow glints of oilseed rape up on the slopes. Needless to say the bus did not stop along here and in fact several of the bus stops looked quite overgrown with tendrils of hedges beginning to ensnare them like some metal sleeping beauties. We passed the Hainault  Forest Golf Club (I don’t imagine they come by bus this not being Scotland) and then to the right a little outbreak of industry. No, I didn’t know there were so many options on glass.
After the deserted factory sites of Fords at Dagenham earlier in the morning it was quite nice to see an active and spruce-looking industrial site even if it is in the middle of the Green belt.
Leaving rural Essex on our right we headed back into London proper via the long straight road that is the New North Road taking us through Hainault, which is built up with much interwar (see the once handsome Norman Parade 1933)

and post war developments, interspersed with the odd block of allotments. It was not that long since we had passed this way on the Route 150, so we were not surprised to see Toyology again at Fulwell Cross. Several passengers with children got off to use the Library and Swimming Pool combination at the Roundabout and the bus continues for a stretch coming to rest at Barkingside, handy for the station and Barnardo’s.

Barkingside is Barnardo’s and these maps and plans show how Dr Thomas founded a whole village community: 2 dozen or so family homes supported by educational and medical facilities and record-keeping and administrative blocks. Between the Tfl map of the area done in 2009 and the current Google view from the air significant bits of the campus have vanished and are now ripe for re-development. Meanwhile the Barnardo’s name lives on in a variety of projects designed to help the inner city children and young people that he targeted as needing help and support over 100 years ago.
Barkingside was a useful station for our journey home after the short if prosaic Route 247.