Friday, 9 March 2012

The Number 307 Route

Barnet (The Arkley Hotel) to Brimsdown Station
Thursday December 1st 2011

A mild December day found us walking along a very pleasant ridge just above Barnet Hospital to find the start of the 307 route, just beside the Arkley Hotel (? pub) where it has space to rest and turn. 

Just opposite was a small farm with domestic geese and a pony – this route gets very close to the ‘edge’ of TFL London, that is Zone 6 limits. Close to the hospital was the Barnet Union offices – not Union in the sense of workers’ rights but a legacy of the Poor Law Amendment Act when several parishes were grouped together for the purposes of administering Poor Relief, the legislation which led to the Workhouse and all that deserving and undeserving poor attitude which still dogs us today. My turn for a rant.

 Leaving Hertfordshire behind us we set off back through Chipping Barnet, which seems to be the oldest part complete with a range of historic buildings – 2 sets of Almshouses and an old school. Also Barnet Museum, which seems to have rather restricted opening times. Opposite the church is the newly built Barnet College and sure enough several young people boarded at this point.

The views from the descent down Barnet Hill are good, even on a winter’s day and we could see all the more recent housing developments in the Dollis Valley below.  As our destination was very firmly towards the East we needed to bear left so soon the 307 finds itself going through New Barnet, which from the age of many of the houses looks quite old but obviously not as old as the bits round the church. There was a Psychic Night planned for the Old Red Lion (I wonder if they ever combine Quiz Night and Psychic Night – it might be considered cheating) and New Barnet has two rival pubs still open – the Railway Bell v. The Railway Tavern clearly built when rail came to Barnet. Also the Lord Kitchener (before he got a bad press later in the century). As we climbed steeply up as the only bus hereabouts we passed our second gun shop of the day and entered the borough of Enfield and Middlesex. County – or what remains of it. 

Enfield has some attractive cycle paths hereabouts – set behind hedges to share with pedestrians and well away from the busy traffic – a change from many we have seen on our travels where the paths are taken up with parked cars and heavy traffic…

Middlesex reasserts itself as the bus serves the Trent Park site of Middlesex University – a very handsome rural campus set amidst woods, golf courses and stables. The site has a long history; originally hunting grounds for Henry VIII, then variously owned and landscaped by Humphrey Repton before passing onto Middlesex Poly later University. We also crossed Salmon's Brook, which rises here and flows down through Edmonton and Tottenham into the River  Lee/Lea. Enfield Chase has its own station which marks the beginning of Enfield Town: the High Street remains pretty traditional complete with Thursday Market Day and war memorial.  It also still has an independent Department Store today, in honour of Christmas, sporting a huge red bow (which from the top deck of the bus looked rather like a giant bosom). The town itself also had its own fairly modest Christmas tree, of the everlasting variety.  In spite of the town being busy we swept through and noted that the New River looked much much cleaner than on our previous trips through Enfield, either by design or the autumn death of duck weed?

From here on the journey becomes more mundane with industrial sites and multiplex cinemas clustering round the major crossroads with the A10 Cambridge Road and once en route towards Southbury and Ponders End the very large ASDA distribution centre. There is also a substantial Arriva bus depot but today we did not change drivers here – as we have on previous trips.

The 307 asserts its individuality for the last time as it turns down Green Street and quite close to Enfield Town FC’s ground. Enfield has as many if not more component parts than Barnet so the two ends of the trip complemented each other quite well.  Though Brimsdown has a station (and how well we know it) its main function seems to be as home to a range of light and not so light industry – we actually photographed a ‘smoking chimney’ of the industrial as opposed to domestic variety on the day that the Prime minister welcomed the establishment of yet more Starbucks and ‘drive in’ ones at that as a welcome addition and ‘a great boost’ to the British Economy – industry used to mean manufacturing and factories, even if many of them were not in London.

It was not surprising that one of the local pubs the White Horse looked thoroughly dejected and rejected but was being born again in the new housing of White Horse Mews. The Izaak Walton is still going, prompting us to wonder whether he ever fished in the River Lea? The answer is apparently 'yes', though I had always associated him with Derbyshire. Just shows you never know what is on your own doorstep. These ponderings (Ponders End anyone?) and our proximity to Brimsdown station marked the ‘compleation’ of the trip for us – a journey which had lasted 55 minutes.

PS It also marks farewell to Brimsdown, which always sounds like something out of ‘Harry Potter’ though the reality is much less bewitching, as no more routes pass this way. And to think when we started the Project we had never even heard of Brimsdown…

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