Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Number 300 Route

East Ham Station to Canning Town Station
Wednesday 29th February 2012
The alert amongst you will note the deliberate mistake above – the route 300 actually starts at the Wordsworth Health Centre, stops also at Plashet School before arriving at East Ham station. We need to confess we had boarded the bus before we noticed other passengers already seated. And we stayed on. This is our 300th bus route – minus three non- or no longer existent 200 routes – and also nearly our 3rd anniversary, plus it’s Leap Year Day so we decided to break our own rules (the one that says we start at the beginning and stay on till the end) and continue. So there.

(PS I wanted to have animated balloons float across the page of the blog at the mention of the anniversary but my computer skills are insufficiently developed for this – besides, the other LWB vetoed it.) 

East Ham station is a much quieter beast than its West Ham relative, serving only two lines, but we did admire the proud Station Parade built in 1938, which much postdates the station here since 1858.

The bus was busy at this point with shoppers and others needing the route to get them home to the back streets of East Ham. With the one-way system round the High Street we had the less interesting back route along Ron Leighton Way and Pilgrims Way. Ron was the Labour MP for Newham East but I am not sure where the Pilgrims might have been heading?

We always enjoy passing Newham Town Hall and you can contrast our picture with one taken soon after it opened in 1901. The tower is indeed distinctive and the plasterwork has lasted. The bricks you will see did not come from London.

It was just as well were in the mood to look at buildings and construction as once the bus turned off down Park Avenue there was little to relieve the streets of homes, compact semis and terraces with a marked lack of any shops, pubs or even churches. No wonder these folk need the bus to get to services and commerce. I do include a fine example  of cladding – someone has clearly spent quite some cash on covering up the fine London stocks with Cotswold cladding plus replacement windows – the latter are slightly more understandable as drafty windows are a pain.

The rows of houses give way to newer estates, then the bus passes the cemetery, which is now a nature reserve for East Ham , before eventually diving under the busy and elevated A13 to deliver us suddenly into the very different world of Docklands.

If it's Alpine Way it must be the Beckton Alp. (Jo remembers walking here and watching skiers come down the slope plus taking a hot chocolate at the chalet style cafe) 
This may only be Beckton but now the range of housing was interspersed with several supermarkets and additional transport links including the DLR, all combined at Beckton Bus Station , and quite some green space, where we spotted early blossom and  daffodils – sure signs of Spring.  After Stansfield Road  and the  Newham City Farm the bus follows the line of the DLR stations Royal Albert, Prince Regent and Custom House. The Prince Regent (the Prince later known as George IV) had to do a bit of ‘subbing’ while George III lapsed into an unfortunate episode of madness. Not surprisingly the Business Park is called ‘The Royals’ with docks,  roads, stations and offices named after assorted specimens of the breed.

It does get a bit predictable so when there was a sign to the Will Thorne Pavilion I thought he might be a local cricketer but ‘No’ said Jo, ‘he would be much too busy leading 30.000 gas and other workers in strikes to play cricket’ so here is a link to a local resident and activist who was respected by Marx and Engels.

At this point our camera, clearly inspired by local history, staged a little strike of its own and could not be reactivated till we had again crossed the A13 to approach Canning Town via Plaistow and the Barking Road, passing two glimpses of the Greenway. The Greenway is a cosmetic green covering over the Great Northern Outfall Sewer, which a few brave tourists have visited – those of delicate disposition (or eating their sandwiches at their desk) may wish to skip this evocative description

 By now we were back to the ‘arrival city’ shops that characterise this and many parts of London, though I suspect the Dolls House shop has been here a while longer.

By now the bus was busy again and delivered its passenger load to the stainless steel hub that is Canning Town bus station.  If anything the road works at Canning Town have increased in size since we were last here and there has certainly been something afoot for 2 years. My theory is that the diggers, dozers, dumpsters and other working vehicles, having been left unattended at night, have bred and resulted in a feral overpopulation of vehicles all running happily amok. 

This was never a  direct route as we could have just followed the Barking Road to get from one end to the other. Instead we took some twists and turns off the more usual routes but it was interesting enough to show us some of both East Ham and Beckton behind the scenes, and to appreciate the very different feels to two neighbourhoods probably 100 years or so apart in the planning and building.  The 300 takes about 50 minutes to come this far and our guess was that much of the local community would be stranded without it.


  1. Congratulations on 300, quite an achievement!

  2. I would like to add my congratulations too. Thank you for three years of entertainment so far, and looking forwards to many more posts.

  3. At Beckton Cars we know that getting to the airport and even from the airport can be a real hassle. Beckton Cars