Wednesday 29 February 2012
Since neither Mary, Linda nor I felt inclined to propose to anyone today, we went on the buses: the 309 took us from Canning Town, where the 300 had dropped us, and we headed towards the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green.
This was, I think, the smallest bus we have ever been on: it did have two doors, but only two lots of seats before the central space and four including the back row behind the middle doors.
We set off at 11.35, somewhat cynical about the bus stop’s suggestion of a 24 minute journey. The first hazard is the roadworks around Canning Town Station, which have been going on as long as this project with, it seems to us, fewer signs of coming to an end. Crossing the Lea, we realized we were close enough to the Thames for the tide to be right out, sucking the water from the river and leaving mud. We also (well, all right, mostly it was I also) noted the Cycling Superhighway 3, which is at least on the pavement and away from the busy traffic of these big roads. We were, after all, close to the A13 and the Blackwall Tunnel access.
We took a right to serve the Aberfeldy area, impressed with our driver’s calm negotiating of narrow roads and parked cars. We were also impressed with the firm way he had with two people who tried for a free ride (‘but I put some money on this morning…’) though I accept that those of us who ride free anyway have little right to criticize.
We saw St Michael’s Court, a church converted into flats as well as the huge block which is Glenkerry House, a Goldfinger building which is now, of course, listed. But the key feature of this route was the phenomenal amount of new housing under construction. though we did also pass established streets and green spaces. There are, therefore, a number of schools, including the St Paul’s Way Trust School, formerly Community School, in the throes of getting a handsome new building.
Another interesting moment was spotting Geoff Cade way. After briefly wondering whether it was the sportsman (NO! that’s Geoff Capes) I ascertained that he was a local hero.
Always conscious of the rich diet of religions available in London, we noted the Vietnamese Catholic Chaplaincy as well as, at a later stage, the London Buddhist Centre, a couple of mosques and a number of evangelical churches, before reaching St John’s Bethnal Green.
We crossed the Limehouse cut, and later on, we also went over the Regent’s Canal: again surprised at how watery this part of London is. There were daffodils wherever there was a green space, to cheer up a cloudy day, less warm than we had expected.
Along Roman Road, we came into Bethnal Green, passing St John's Church and also the Tube station, where there were poppies commemorating the dreadful events of 3 March 1943. A memorial is being built here.
The Museum of Childhood is altogether a more cheerful prospect. Then we turned along Old Ford Road, forcing Linda and Mary to listen to a lecture on the 1866 cholera Epidemic, caused by contaminated water from the Old Ford Reservoir.
We reached the London Chest Hospital at 12.15. It was, as we surmised, set up in the mid nineteenth century to deal with tuberculosis, which was causing 20% of all deaths in the East of London.
Our journey had taken just about double the official time, but we had enjoyed the varying scenery of East London.