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.

1 comment:

  1. The 252 bus route is not in Essex at any point. It quite clearly travels thru the London Borough of Havering in east London.
    Essex is a naturally beautiful county. If you would like to write about it, by all means do. But please remember that the County of Essex is run by Essex County Council, no area within a London Borough is a part of Essex.
    Thank for reading.