Barking Station to Rainham (Abbey Wood Lane)
Monday April 18th 2011
Jo had a short wait as I was running a bit late but we were still able to be off at 10.10 on our double decker Route 287 which starts opposite the attractive and well-served Barking Station: 2 Underground and 1 Overground lines and a pleasant bridge.
This route does a range of one-way options to get itself facing out of Barking and heading south closer to the Thames, passing the impressively large Barking bus garage on the way.
Both of us had picked up a ‘metro’ newspaper with an article claiming the local pedestrians needed yellow lines on pavement but we peered in vain as we passed. In fact this route clings hard and fast to Ripple Road even passing through Rippletown. Sadly it was not a case of raspberry Ripple on this warm spring day, but rather passing over rail and streets on high built bridges and then alongside the A13 flyover, so the unusual sensation swings from one of being ‘King of the World’ from the top deck to being rather dwarfed by a heavily used trunk road. Housing Blocks alongside main roads always look a bit desolate and we noted some CLASP built ones remained hereabouts.
The Rippleside Cemetery dates from the late 19th Century inevitably when there was a big boom in cemetery building, and this one still has ‘vacancies’ it seems.
Though not actually the A13 the major road we were following was impressive, fairly new and with several lanes enabling the bus to go at quite a speed. Out of the rush hour and during half-term the route did not seem very popular but we surmised at times it must be busy enough to justify a full double decker service.
Goresbrook seemed to be the next landmark with its leisure centre and then another major interchange, after which we hit the whole stretch that once housed the Ford works – the workers’ car parks remain weedy and overgrown, local shops have folded and what was once a bustling industry seemed to have little more than some scrapyards.
The CEME - a college for mechanics and engineers – has a campus here in what seems to be referred to as the Thames Gateway, a cross-river cross-local-authority regeneration education training sort of thing. It seems an enormous task given that all the land between this bus route and the River Thames, once filled with industries built around the motor works, is now desolate: that is a lot of space and a lot of jobs to find./create.
The 287 takes a right turn away from the main road and emptiness and enters Rainham Village which is a composite of an old Essex village overlaid with later developments but retaining a villagy feel nonetheless. It still has a village church and school, a Working Men’s Club and war memorial with quite a few shops indicating links with the nearby River Thames – a chandlers shop and Chandlers Corner – and it is really not far along the Rainham creek to the River Thames. However the old rural farming village having been overtaken by the 20th and 21st century needs something of an uplift and there seem to be plans afoot called the Rainham Masterplan. The residential parts had the usual mixture of paved over front gardens or unusual trees – a sprightly monkey puzzle.
The bus having made excellent time lurked for a while in the village High Street where they changed drivers before heading on through a pleasant and well maintained development largely built up with bungalows to finish at Abbey Road close to a dog exercising field in just about 40 minutes.