bit of a walk through Stamford Hill from our previous bus brought us to Stoke Newington Green and the bus stop for the 276, onto which Linda and I stepped at 12.20, bound for Newham General Hospital. After the slightly dingy houses of back street Stamford Hill, we admired the terraces around the Green. Soon we had moved into newer building, much of it postwar public housing. The Woodberry Down Estate was looking well cared for and occupied, unlike a number of properties in Tottenham which we had passed earlier. Just past Hackney Downs Station, we passed an enormous building site where Bellway is building homes of every size and status.
We had not previously heard of Prideaux House as a charity, but it proves to offer a range of services for the elderly, including reconciliation and fellowship as well as catering to more mundane needs. We noted a Registered Yellow Fever Center just opposite, and assumed from the spelling that it was an American agency.
The traffic along past Hackney Central Station was, as usual, very slow indeed; at this point the charming young woman in the seat in front proffered my bus pass, which I had managed to drop on her seat without noticing. We had already had problems with the reader on the bus requiring a couple of swipes each. Eventually we reached the Cock Tavern, with its handsome stonework, and turned left just before the Hackney Empire, picking up a little speed. We passed the General Browning Club (or shellhole as it should probably be known, since that is how they refer to their branches). We detoured around several streets of the Trelawney Estate before coming to Homerton Hospital, with the Hospital Tavern just opposite, presumable there to calm the nerves of staff and patients alike. For people who wonder whether Homerton College, Cambridge used to train teachers around here, the answer is here, and a little bit more complicated than that. We came past the old Hackney Hospital as well.
Now, as we travelled along the side of Mabley Green, we had surprise views of Anish Kapoor's Olympic 'thing': surprising because all our previous buses have approached from the Stratford side, and seen the various stadia first. This time, we saw the distant red ironwork before anything else, and indeed kept seeing it from different angles for the next twenty minutes. It is big....
Through the Kingsmead Estate, and then the Trowbridge Estate, we came to the Wick Community Centre, formerly the Public Baths, and then to Hackney Wick Station. Our route took us under the A12 and into the Locton Estate, where there were were more than twenty cold people waiting at the bus stop, for our little single decker. It appeared that the route had been 'on diversion', now cleared and some passengers had had a very long wait. We were now in more familiar territory and came past the end of Roman Road Market as well as the former Bryant and May works about which we have written before. Bow bus garage and Bromley Public Hall brought us to Bow High Street and the statue of Gladstone by Bow Church.
The next event was the huge and lethal Bow roundabout. This was a good day to be visiting it (and its pointless 'cyclists beware, vehicles turning left' signs) as TfL announced today that they were finally going to do something, though what is not is yet settled. Given that slower traffic is better for everyone, perhaps the suggestion to make the flyover single lane might be best. There were further good views of the Olympic Orbit, though!
Newham was our third borough of the day and we crossed several branches of the River Lea and its various cuts to enter it and notice that there are still lots of roadworks around the Samuel Gurney Memorial to the philanthropist and brother of Elizabeth Fry. Actually we passed his obelisk twice, once before and once after nipping through Stratford's fine bus station. Next we headed towards Plaistow with views of Canary Wharf as we reached West Ham Station. We went over the London Greenway, and the looped round to do it again. It is such a pleasant walk that it seems sensible to call it the Greenway and not the Northern Outfall Sewer, which of course is what it is. Coming off the Barking Road and heading finally towards the hospital, we realised that we should have to ride our bus back again if we did not want a long walk. Newham General Hospital is big enough to have three bus stops, and the friendly driver made sure we knew which was the last stop, and then carried us back towards Canning Town.
She told us she had only been doing the route for a few weeks: hard to believe, as she coped smoothly with all the loops through the housing estates, the road works and slow traffic of Hackney and Bow and indeed the whole 70 or so minutes of this interesting route.