East Acton (Brunel Road) to the Wetlands Centre
Thursday 26th January 2012
By now we are in the upper reaches/later stages of the bus routes and many of these start and finish in relatively remote corners of London – not remote to the locals of course but to us. Therefore the journey to get us to the 283 involved a bus, then a tube and a short walk in that order – the walk would have been shorter but for turning the wrong way out of the station. Perhaps by 500 we will get it right. Still we enjoyed the housing estate and some of the stories it has to tell.
The single decker Route 283 snuck out of its garage to avoid being bullied by the big Number 7, which also starts/ends at Brunel Road and soon we were having a very comfortable ride This was partly due to the careful driver but also I think to a well sprung new bus. Acton would have been one of those villages, initially a staging post on the route from the West of England into London and later providing a laundry service for West End hotels – the sort of enterprise that now happens on the Park Royal Trading Estate – and also some heavier industry. Today we spotted a grand Billiard Hall and then the listed gateway to Wormwood Scrubs Prison and the Hammersmith Hospital – not surprisingly this is where most passengers boarded.
After a brief flirtation with the Westway Flyover (not to be confused with the Hammersmith Flyover) we took a left angled turn through the White City Estate where even more people joined us. This dense housing was built on the former display area where the pre-war (1909) Imperial International Exhibition took place; hence the names of South Africa and Bloemfontein Roads. Talking of housing, we also spotted the HQ of the Women's Pioneer Housing Association, which had done Sylvia so proud with her Notting Hill flat. The local leisure centre is named for Janet Adegoke, the first black mayor who worked for this local community.
The bus does a last right angle and exits from the estate into the Uxbridge Road just short of Queens Park Rangers ground. This is a very multi-cultural part of West London as the diversity of food and restaurants testified – today we passed Jerusalem Gate and noted the animal carcasses being delivered from the back of a van. Though we initially thought they were pigs it seems more likely they were sheep given the local food shops – bit difficult to tell when they are headless and not oinking in a pen or baaing in a field.
We lost our first batch of passengers to the Market and then having completed the tour of Shepherds Bush Green the remaining passengers descended either for the local shops or even Westfield. A woman sitting near me had been clutching a shoe box in a bag and spent her time peeping at its contents and then at her own feet obviously quite excited and keen to get her new shoes home and she finally left the bus too. The last time we were round this way (the 272 about a month ago) there was a fair on the Green and I thought that accounted for the slowing in the traffic, but the fair has long gone and the slowing seems endemic. Today the tower blocks seemed more visible.
It must have been getting close to lunchtime as we were rather taken with Jumbucks Pies, though I am still not clear how you bake a pie in a waffle iron, which seems to be what they are describing?
After leaving Shepherds Bush and heading south we passed Brook Green with some crocuses peeping through. Our turn through the very efficiently arranged Hammersmith Bus Station was swift as was coping with the unlovely roundabout under the infamous flyover (hope those supports are doing their job) and onto the river.
Hammersmith had several now lost rivers, some starting back at the Scrubs where we did and all coming out in the Thames near Hammersmith Bridge. This finally gives me a chance to mention a wonderful book ‘London’s Lost Rivers’ by Paul Talling – a Christmas present, how did you know?? I now realise how much river-related information we have missed over our previous bus trips! The tide was very low today leading Jo to say that if we were TV detectives this is the point at which we would find the bodies washed up. Her informants at London’s river police did report that one person per day dies on the Thames but there was nothing very visible on the muddy flats.
From south of the river it is a straight run down the generously proportioned Castelnau lined with the classical villas built by Boileau (he might have been a Hugenot refugee as was the Count of Castelnau). Slightly later in the year you can enjoy the wonderful magnolias in their front gardens but we may not pass this way again, having already ridden the rarer 485 some weeks ago. Mary noted that the houses on our left seemed to have open space behind them and indeed many must look out over the river.
There was no extended tour of Barnes village as immediately on getting to the crossroads we turned down a narrow road to access the London Wetlands Centre where you can see all sorts of birds in comparative peace. Try the webcams. The remaining passengers were heading to bird watch, while we perched in a rustic looking bus shelter, ate our sandwiches and then returned home via Hammersmith.
A short trip of 45 minutes offering little in the way of novelty except for the turns round the estate, but encompassing a river crossing and some attractive buildings, both humble and grand, en route.