Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Number 259 Route

King’s Cross Station to Edmonton Green (Bus Station)
Wednesday March 24th 2010

This was the middle bus of a 3-bus outing and took us to our furthest point north for the day – the day being the one when the ladies who bus had a male escort (related) to accompany them. He was in fact appointed as the official photographer but unfortunately even the upstairs of this bus was so crowded he got wedged mid-bus which rather cramped his and our style.

The bus’s popularity can only be accounted for by the fact it heads due north with few detours offering basic shops for most of the length of the route, with few other distractions on a weekday.

We left the bus-heavy territory of King’s Cross behind us to follow the Caledonian Road (Scots wha’ hae) passing over the rather pretty Thornhill Bridge,  which crosses the Regents Canal. The locals prefer the name Cally Road hence the Cally Pools en route, not so far from another kind of baths – the Safi Hamam though unfortunately this is just a shop front for a beauty parlour not quite the extensive Turkish Baths its name suggests.  This stretch is often busy with chaps on scooters doing ‘The Knowledge’ based at the nearby Taxi Training headquarters – more power to their elbows, the rest of us having moved on to Google Maps and Satnav.  We are now more experienced travellers than when we started so we know this is a 2-prison route, but is not unique in that. First comes the fairly classic white Pentonville, followed by the recently rebuilt red-brick Holloway.

Alongside the railway lines, of which there is no shortage hereabouts, we spotted what seemed to be an interim depot for compressed rubbish being dumped by Veoilia vans, presumably destined for landfill somewhere not too far?  

On a more appetising note, a green plaque commemorates  Carlo Gatti, Swiss Italian ice-cream entrepreneur and good for him – the canal must have helped with distribution and the Canal Museum has taken over his former premises.

There is density of housing the length of this route which means most of the high street small shops and takeaways seem busy enough serving a diverse population – the Alban Deli and Alban Travel indicate a group now better established in London, as does the Addis Ababa restaurant. Hackney is trying to improve and signs indicate:
”This site will be delivering more affordable housing for Hackney’. Longer established are the City of London Corporation flats and estates, which always look that little bit more robust and better designed than the local council’s efforts. The same might be said of the large Woodberry Down Estate conceived in the 1930s but built post war in an attempt to offer affordable homes to thousands. Having visited family friends there in the Fifties I know the flats with their open walkways are spacious and solid.

I guess what was missing in the grand plan for this area was much open space – so much so that the very small Manchester Gardens impresses as a welcome oasis. Up and down the Seven Sisters Road is where the bus really filled up, even though it is far from the only route hereabouts. What’s more the 259 and others run pretty much in parallel to the Victoria line at this point but there was still no shortage of passengers. Through Tottenham there were a range of things on offer – the Bernie Grant Arts Centre , CONEL (the College of North East London), the Christ Apostolic Church with its LCD display, plus Town Halls, some in use, some not. Bruce Grove, actually a train station, has a very eye-catching market in its precinct and always looks busy. As well as offering two prisons, this is very nearly a 2 football club route: having passed the Gunners shop earlier at Finsbury Park Station we then had the Spurs Shop with the White Hart Lane Stadium (not one of the more iconic venues architecturally speaking) hard behind it.

For some reasons the male hairdressers/barbers seem to win out round here and we passed, not necessarily in this order: OBOYZ, CUT’Z and MR KLASS

Once out of what our Gooner children would consider enemy territory, Sainsbury’s seemed incredibly keen to get our custom, exhorting us to ‘Turn Around’ at several points along the straight route up from Tottenham to Edmonton. Also conspicuous was the pub The Gilpin’s Bell’ causing Jo to launch into a very impressive rendition of a William Cowper poem she had to learn by heart as a punishment for schoolgirl naughtiness. ( All 63 verses?)  The link will get you the whole text but the brief version is that as some kind of 20th anniversary treat Mr and Mrs Gilpin set out from home and the drapery business in Cheapside for a jaunt in the country at the Bell at Edmonton (sic) but given the cost of liquor Mr G. opted to take his own, strapped to his waist, and this combining with an unreliable mode of transport (a horse) the simple expedition soon ran into trouble.

Just short of our destination we had a little excitement of our own with a dust cart that was occupying the bus stop but all was amicably settled and just on the hour expected, we wheeled into the nicely canopied Edmonton Green Bus Station with a chance to admire their war memorial. This is one of those historic rather than actually still green-grassed ‘Greens’ but with signs to Picketts Lock and the Lea Valley I suppose that’s reasonable.

Not the most enthralling of trips but with more novel features towards the end.

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