Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Number 262 Route

Gallions Reach (Sainsbury’s) to Stratford Bus Station
Monday September 6th 2010

This was the middle bus of a 3-bus outing and took us into unknown territory, the ‘we’ being Sue G. & I as Jo was off at ‘jam camp’ and Mary still not fully recovered.

Our key route, the 101, had left us at a very similar looking bit of new Beckton and after chatting to some knowledgeable locals they advised to take a bus to the start of the 262, which delivers its passengers to the Sainsbury’s, has a little rest and then sets off again. During the rest period we heard how Beckton used to be an area full of gas works and even earlier than that farms. The couple had been living locally around Cyprus – an oddly-named stop on the DLR – for nearly 30 years and had seen many changes. They now had the choice of three supermarkets (there really isn’t anything approaching a High Street till you get back to Plaistow) and while the University of East London had brought life and custom to the area it also brought parking problems. But grandad was palpably proud that from his humble beginnings his own grandson had succeeded at University.
We were tickled by some of the local advertising taking rhyming slang as its motifs – if you are worried about parking Gallions Reach offers you ‘space for 2000 jam jars’, and there’s plenty to eat if you are Hank Marvin!

The first third of this journey seemed to consist of a series of rather tight roundabouts so we were feeling a little frazzled on the bouncy top deck but it did give good views – at one point right back to South London & Shooters Hill (you see we have real hills in South London, not just the Beckton Alps) and of the colourful buildings that have been built hereabouts. At one point the bus zooms quite fast along an elevated dual carriageway but I was disappointed not to be flying over bits of the docks or river, which after all are not far away, but over some desolate land now overgrown with greenery. Of the previous gasholders there is one remaining – in fact a very beautiful possibly late Victorian one, which has been popular as a film location?

The regeneration of the area continues with several retail and business parks and more recently the University of East London which the 262 passes at some distance and without benefit of the Riverside views.

New developments line the very straight Tollhouse Way until the route passes under the A13 and thus moves back into an altogether older and more diversely populated part of London.  The 262 takes itself pretty much through Plaistow (even the on board announcements did not seem that clear on how to pronounce this) and crosses over the Capital Ring where it is elevated as a Green walkway.

Some small corners of Plaistow have had a face-lift: there was a lovely children’s play area that had clearly got its bid in before the cuts arrived and looked very nice and safe (everything lands on sand) for it.  The closer the bus gets to Stratford the more dense the housing so smaller blocks and terraced streets and still smaller blocks give way to the odd tower block which still survives from the Sixties boom in that kind of housing.  We also admired the Plaistow Red Triangle YMCA  building, which after closing has been smartly renovated.
Talking of building explosions Stratford Town Centre is one big building site. Obviously the nearby Olympic Stadium is the main thrust behind most of the activity round Stratford – the transport links are nearly complete: rail, DLR and 2 Underground lines, plus a range of buses. Westfield are building their second large shopping centre which seems to sit between the station and the stadium – not quite sure where that leaves the already existing Stratford Shopping Centre.

This was quite a short route taking us from redeveloped Docklands into redeveloping Stratford in about 40 minutes.

PS You all know that Westfield is now open and most of the site ready if not open to the public.


  1. PPS A minute’s silence, please, to mark the passing yesterday of the last bendy bus. Yes, we know what Boris thought of them, and we agree they could be a nuisance on wiggly routes but they did make sense on busy straight runs. What odds a bendy-bus nostalgia boom in the future to offset the nation’s obsession with the Routemaster?

  2. It really is all change around Gallions Reach still. The view you got over the grassy wasteland to the blue and white University of East London building is no more. About two months after your visit they started building a sports centre for the university on that patch of ground. It's nearly complete now and due for opening around spring - keep a look out when you do the 366 and 474.

    You'll get your views of the docks (and travel on bridges over them) when you do the 473 and 474. The 473 would be the perfect opportunity for you to travel on the Woolwich Ferry that you mentioned having never done.

  3. THANK GOODNESS the bendies have gone - I hated them; made me feel quite dreadfully carsick!