Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Number 260 Route

White City Bus Station to Golders Green Station
Monday February 28th 2011

This was the second bus of a 4-bus outing and to set off involved little more than crossing the road into our very favourite bus station, the White City (Westfield) hub. Spacious, well set out gleaming aluminium and friendly operatives had all been our previous experiences but this time we barely drew breath as the 260 whisked us off and out. In retrospect this was perhaps the high spot of a route on which various factors – cold damp weather, poor visibility, dirty upholstery (nameless brown stains on the seats) and no heating, doubtless compounded by hunger – gradually rendered the trip less than joyous. And we had started the day so well!

The 260 travels round the outside of Westfield West, past the gleaming station and then round Shepherds Bush Green which is actually quite considerable but today looked more like a mud bath than a green.  There could also be no greater contrast between the gleaming and sanitised shopping centre and the run down though quirky diversity of the Uxbridge Road.
We often travel through places on Monday when markets are not open but this one proved the exception.

For shop choices along both the Uxbridge Road and Old Oak Road we thought you might like:
Guava Jelly
Ambrosia Bakery
The Curtain Mill
The Nut Hatch
interspersed with pubs like the ‘British Queen’ and ‘Princess Victoria’ (little did they know how long she would reign when they started naming pubs after her! 

Rather to our surprise after these lively roads we suddenly hit Westway (also known as the A40) at the grandly named Savoy Circus, merely a junction. So after urban crawl we were speeding (for the only time en route) along a 3 lane dual carriageway mainly lined with residential streets, except for a stretch that was weedily overgrown and looked as though it should have been a canal or railway? Research indicates that though demolition happened the promised rebuild never did.
This part of London, with Acton Mainline so clearly established on what was once the Great Western Railway, celebrates the engineer Brunel, mostly in its university but also in road names round here – and there is no shortage of bridges that we crossed. Most memorable was Abbey Road (NOT that one, see the 139) over the Paddington branch of the Grand Union, thereby indicating that all modes of transportation can continue to exist side by side. 

By now we are quite familiar with this approach to the Central Middlesex Hospital, past the older bits of Park Royal. Just opposite the giant Asda we spotted some street art – not quite as grand as the bench in Bond Street where you can sit beside Churchill and Roosevelt, but obviously comfortable enough for some. As we waited for the lights we watched this man strike and discard most of a box of matches to no real effect.

If this was the Central Middlesex Hospital can Harlesden be far behind? The roads remain narrow and crowded round here and progress is always slow, today further hampered by rain. Not surprisingly lots of passengers got on here, so none of us were best pleased that after we had manoeuvred our way round Harlesden and the bits of Neasden that are bordering on Willesden we were turfed off the bus at Willesden Bus Garage. We have no objections if the drivers change over but it seems a bit churlish to withdraw the bus itself, An alternative 260 was lurking so we boarded (not able to get our usual front seats of course) and noted it was both cold and dirty too! Even peppermints could not save the day. Nor did the distant view of Wembley lift our spirits.

This 260 edged its way along the High Street towards Willesden Green, and it is difficult to believe that the roads back are really very nice. You can pretty much take your pick of religions round here with churches still as churches and others now mosques.   Dotted amongst the fast food outlets (Filipino Asian Store anyone? or Russian 'Magasin'?) was an interesting looking architectural  salvage store.

Given the slow progress elsewhere it was cheering that we crossed the Edgware Road pretty quickly so that we could head on north and a bit east through and up the pretty steep Childs Hill (the view is excellent if you are heading the other way as we have done!) to join the Finchley Road and a slew of other bus routes heading into Golders Green Bus Station.

Normally we are quite positive about this hub – me for nostalgic reasons as it usually marked the starting point for the Saturday and Sunday outings of my mis-spent youth, Jo because it’s on the Northern Line, both of us because it has reasonable toilets.  Not today: they were having a refit so we had to leave the station and come back to tussle with our next route – but that was a story for another day. 

Just to be picky again – Shepherds Bush Green, where we started was indeed a wide expanse of green whereas both Willesden and Golders appear to have lost their green grassy stuff and original claim to fame. 

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