Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Number 327 Route

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Having arrived at Waltham Cross Bus Station, it seemed worth taking this circular route, to the Elsinge Estate and back, as we should not be in these parts again.  It was the first actual circular route of the project (though we have taken there-and-back buses), so I was sorry not to be sharing it with Linda and Mary, both occupied with other matters this week.

This is a two-an-hour bus, which gave me time to cross to the Pavilions shopping centre.  The bus station had LOCKED facilities and no-one on duty.  It is run by TfL.  Ho hum.

Still, promptly at 11.33 the single decker arrived, and off we set, back along Eleanor Cross Road to join the sort of by-pass, Monarchs Way.  Looking for information on Eleanor, I found this rather good looking walk - maybe one of these years…

The minute we had passed the large Lidl and hit the Hertford Road, we saw quite heavy traffic going the other way.  I think it must have been the collateral damage from the accident that closed the A10 as I came up it on the 317 earlier.  

But in our direction we made good progress, pausing to let people off with their shopping.  Passing Lea Valley High School, we turned left into a residential area of streets mainly named for trees, and a hail and ride section of the route.  Many of the houses had attractive gardens, though one or two preferred dandelions. 

 Turkey Street Station is the initial destination of this route, and as we passed it, the indicator told us we were going to Waltham Cross:  ah, the excitement of a circular route!  Now we headed along Turkey Street, running parallel to the Turkey Brook.  Most London Rivers have useful and entertaining websites, but I have drawn a blank here:  suffice it to say that it flows into the River Lea.

The driver’s radio was talking about road closures in Camden and Lewisham, but did not help explain why we were now almost stationary.  He got audibly indignant when one of the vans squeezing past in the other direction was being driven by a man chatting on a mobile phone, but otherwise we just sat and looked at each other.  We regained the main road eventually, at a London Loop sign and the Sun and Woolpack Pub.  This pub was still open, but the Gun and Magpie shortly afterwards seemed to be boarded up, though it still displayed its handsome sign.

I also admired the little garden at the corner of Bullsmoor Lane as we swung back past the Tesco warehouse, and the Lidl to get back along Monarch Way to the bus station, arriving at 12.12.  I estimate that we had spent 10 minutes stuck in the traffic, but even so it was quite a quick loop round one side of Waltham Cross.

And still no rain, though the clouds were getting blacker and blacker as I moved across to my next bus, and left Waltham Cross, as far as the Project is concerned, forever.

The Number 326 Route

28 June 2010 

 Having made use of the facilities in The Spires Shopping Centre, Linda and I (Mary was having her turn in North Wales)  hopped onto the small 326 heading for Brent Cross. It was 13.15, but we had scoffed our sandwiches while we waited, so were in good order. We had time to check out the Brent Councillors on the bus stop while we waited.
The bus was fairly full all the way from Barnet High Street, mostly shoppers, but we also thought some post-exam students. We looped into the Dollis Valley estate, with its boarded up little shops, and then out again, and we saw signs to the Barnet Table Tennis Centre  as well as many signs warning of parking restrictions on Match days, which we took to be about football rather than Table Tennis. 

 We passed New Barnet Station, where the 84 (and the Project) will get to in a few weeks, after its trip to St Albans (!) and noted the Railway Bell Pub, as well as the Lord Kitchener. Wetherspoons say that the Railway Bell was built in 1850, as the Railway arrived in Barnet.  But as usual I can find no information about who named a pub after the hero who relieved Khartoum and fronted the poster campaign for a volunteer rather than conscript army in 1914. 

Our route was almost entirely through residential roads, passing Totteridge and Whetstone Tube station as well as signs to the Dollis Valley Green Walk.  We were mostly in ‘hail and ride’ territory, which is always a bit exciting for us, as we don't have them where we live.  It's especially interesting when parked cars make pulling into the kerb a little challenging. We also met the River Brent a couple of times. 

In Courthouse Gardens, we came to a blue plaque which appeared to be to commemorate the artist William Henry Bach, but it isn’t an EH one so I can’t find more details, and auction house websites require membership before releasing any information, though as far as I can see, the Bach style seems to be slightly blurry landscapes. 

  Soon we came to Hendon Lane: almost every front garden is hard standing, but I suppose being at the top of a hill means that flooding is not a worry. The old Hendon Town Hall, now of course Barnet, was looking very fine, with red and white bedding plants in the front. The War Memorial was also handsome in the sunshine

 When we saw the London Iryo Centre, we thought it might be a religious establishment, but is in fact medicine for Japanese people.  

We turned into Brent Cross at 14.10, really the first shops we had seen since leaving Barnet.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Number 325 Route

Prince Regent DLR to East Beckton (Sainsbury’s)
Thursday April 26th 2012

Booted and suited to withstand the weather and not quite sprouting webbed feet we met at Prince Regent DLR.  (The UK has only had one Prince Regent, our resident history teacher explained, because we have only had one (officially) mad king who needed someone to rule in his stead.) The docks must have been named after him, and today the main feature of the area is the Excel Centre due to host several Olympic Sports in less than 100 days. Woo.

Jo just had time to photograph the excellent metal screens that surround the Excel Centre showing a rather jolly elephant being hoisted on or off board a ship. The frieze also includes a Sailor's Alphabet, here for your delectation.    

Although riding a small bus and often passing through deep standing water we did not actually need to sail today. Our first port of call (sorry – nautical theme catching) was the Keir Hardie Estate, named for the country’s first socialist MP – although a Scot he stood and won East Ham.  This is one of several estates named for him – though sadly the estate’s pub seems totally derelict.

By the time we had passed under the A13 trunk road and along the busy Balaam Street many of the passengers we had taken on, got off.  Balaam Street is very popular with buses and we had passed this way before – the area, mainly part of Newham borough, is densely populated and not wealthy, being long time home to successive groups of  incomers. Away from the river there had evidently been less bombing and the older houses remained some retaining fine plasterwork.  Everywhere were hints of the area’s historical heritage: –
The Flying Angel Building – once host to a Seamen’s mission;
Barbers Alley – one could easily imagine  Sweeney Todd though he actually ‘worked’ more towards Fleet Street;

Meggs Almshouses – quite a late build (1893) by the standards of many we have passed; and
a still colourful Brymay matches ‘ghost sign’ advert. Though a website lists many such signs, seemingly it has not encountered this one at the less fashionable end of London?

Then we had the Hudson Bay Company Pub, whose name and local connections are explained in a rather politically incorrect way by this Wetherspoons link

Though now housing (a commodity that Newham is very short of, necessitating the recent furore about sending its homeless families to Stoke and other distant points), the Trebor Sweet Factory is remembered in the still evident signage, which prompted us to eat a peppermint or two.  It still says Trebor on the packets…

If it’s religion you want rather than history or heritage how about this range of options found on a sign just outside a church??

Much more modern is the mural advertising (we think) some kind of car repair or maintenance deal for cars but obviously lovingly customised for the workshop’s wall.

By now we were nearly back down to Plashet and East Ham – this is a really loopy (in both senses) route as if you really wanted to get from Prince Regent to Beckton you could cover it very simply via the DLR.  Plashet School seems to have missed out on new school buildings though I wonder where they would have put them anyway. It has its own metal tube to get pupils across the road safely. East Ham can be slow but on the 325 heading south we were taking the back doubles along Ron Leighton Way and the assorted shrubbery that has been planted there. The police were also checking for valid licences and tax. 

Once back over or under (what did we do?) the A13, the bus map indicates a series of diamonds, which the key indicates means ‘Route or section of route with limited stops’ and indeed we seemed to be in something of a roundabout wasteland.  From time to time the Showcase Cinemas would appear, the Beckton Triangle Retail Park  would pop up or then the Waste Treatment Centre, in the process of being upgraded and proud provider of  sewage treatment  to the Olympics.
(Bet you won’t see that on many t-shirts…)

After seeming to be orbiting in the middle of nowhere it felt slightly surreal to come abruptly to a halt beside an enormous and reassuringly familiar looking Sainsbury’s. This round trip, and as you can see from the map it is nearly a circle to cover these areas, took us just about 45 minutes of solid driving through densely populated east London.  

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Number 324 Route

Thursday 19 April 2012

 This is a remarkable route as far as our project is concerned.  If, when we began in March 2009, we had gone for a speed record, as that man in the Evening Standard the other week did, we should never have travelled this route.  This is because it did not exist until October 2010 as you can see here.

Having arrived at Brent Cross main shopping centre, we made our way over the various foot bridges that bring you to Tesco’s carpark, whence the 324 departs for Stanmore.  Our bus, leaving at 11.26, then took us past Toys R Us and Babies R Us and the huge Holiday Inn, and over the big main roads and the River Brent to call at … Brent Cross main shopping centre (yes, I know, but those are the rules). 

We had plenty of time to notice the arrow-infested upholstery, which indeed suggested that we might be going there and back or to and fro.
By the time we reached Hendon Station and then the Police College, the driving rain  had stopped, to be replaced by steamed up windows, so that even Linda could not manage many amazing photos. 

We did notice that parts of the Police College are for sale, presumably for conversion into flats.  We were into a fairly long Hail and Ride section, with most of us passengers sitting tight in the warm, as we came along Colindeep Lane to cross the Silk Stream on its way to the Brent Reservoir.

Although the weather was more like a nasty November than spring, there were excellent wisterias along the way, as well as lilac (both pink and its normal colour) and ceanothuses.  We came onto the Edgware Road by the retail park but turned quickly up Hay Lane to loop through residential areas and reach Roe Green with its unexpected thatched cottages. This between-the-wars village was built (using German POWs, by the way) to house workers at the huge aircraft manufacturing works.  It is however named for a much older Roe Green House, so perhaps it should make us think of deer and not A V Roe the aero engineer.

 From here it was a fairly straight run along the A 4140, past Kingsbury Station, and then Queensbury, built later and given the name to chime in with its pre-existing neighbour.  We were in another Hail and Ride Section, through residential areas, where maisonette blocks had been built to match existing larger houses.

At Stanburn School, we were intrigued to spot the notice that referred to its restored blast shelter
But we do know that the government in the period before the bombing began focused a lot of ARP work on school buildings. After all, the children were meant to have been evacuated away in ‘the countryside’ while the bombs fell.  The fact that the evacuation scheme was neither as comprehensive nor as popular with parents and children as had been hoped meant that community centres like this one actually remained as schools.  Though of course it was mainly the V weapons, from June 1944 onwards, that fell during school hours rather than at night.

Down Stanmore Hill Broadway, passing White House Fish and Chips which is Renee’s favourite eatery, we swung into the forecourt of Stanmore Station at 12.10, pretty well exactly in the time specified for this route. 

The Number 323 Route

Tuesday 27 April 2010 

This was a little bus and a short route, but none the less enjoyable for that.  It was our link bus (Linda, Mary and me) to get us from Canning Town, where the 69 had brought us, and Mile End Station, since Linda and I had a fancy to try the 205, the bus route which passes about 20 stations:  but you know all about that already.

We boarded our bus shortly after 11.35.  There was only one other passenger, a postal worker returning to the East London Distribution Centre, where he was replaced by a single other passenger.

Our driver set off at a rapid pace, along the aptly named Stephenson Street, 
paralleling the railway before going over a bridge and returning along the other side.  Then we turned into the large and leafy business park, and came to the London Gas Museum.  This area must have been horrible in the late nineteenth century, when the great Beckton Gasworks was making coal gas for most of London, and the air must have been hard to breathe.

Soon we were over the River Lea, with its locks and attractive bankside houses, and into Bromley by Bow.  St Andrew’s Hospital is rapidly becoming apartments, and Devons Road DLR Station is having works to enable the longer trains.  A new community school is going up:  we wondered what would happen to the major school building programmes we have seen across London, after the election next week. (And now we know, but this is not the place for comment of a political nature, now it is?)

Bow Common Road  brought us to Bow Common, and the Regent’s Canal, and we had arrived at Mile End, 17 minutes after leaving Canning Town.

Mary decided to leave us to get back to her allotment.

The Number 322 Route

Monday 26 July 2010

(Rachel's Birthday)

On this warm but drizzly day, Linda and I crossed the road from our first bus, the 88, and waited the Countdown few minutes before our single decker appeared at 12.05.  Mary was busy with grandmotherly duties.  Only 3 of us passengers got on at Clapham Common, but as soon as we turned into Clapham High Street, the bus became fuller and busier.  For part of the way towards Brixton, we were the only bus on the route.

We passed the Italia Conti School, getting ready to celebrate its centenary in 2011, though that will be well over by the time you read this, and then the Lambeth hospital, now a Psychiatric Hospital and part of the same Trust as the Maudsley.  It was formerly a general hospital, though its handsome gateway seems to be all that is left of its past, as the buildings, car parking etc are pretty 20th Century.

The Stockwell Road brought us to Brixton, where many people got off to visit the market and many got on, having done so.  They were of course, following the example of some royal visitors a week before. 

We passed Lord David Pitt House as well as Marcus Garvey Way and a blue plaque for the Marxist historian C L R James and were pleased that British Black people were being commemorated alongside the international greats.  (now is the time to admit that between July 2010 and today I have mislaid the pictures for this trip, and so David Pitt is courtesy of his website)

We had time to be bemused by ‘the inconsistency of everything’, the strap line outside the 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning building,   before heading past Herne Hill Station to hurry alongside Brockwell Park into Tulse Hill. (yes, this picture too comes from the web... I did have one of Brockwell Park but it showed daffodils, which I felt inappropriate for a July bus

After that, our next bit of green was the West Norwood Crematorium and Cemetery as we trundled along Robson Road. Along Vale Street, we passed the refuse and recycling centre (or ‘dump’ as my travelling companion refers to it.  She used to be one of its patrons, before Lambeth tightened up on people who live in other borough, however close)

 Now a ‘hail and ride’ section began (in those days we were quite new to these, and rather excited); whether roads named for Alpine passes, St Gothard and St Bernard, are a comment on the hilly nature of the area, we do not know.

Gypsy Hill brought us to a pub called ‘The Two Towers’ though I have been unable to discover if this is some kind of Tolkien reference;  but we do know that Paxton Green is named for the gardener who designed the Crystal Palace, and soon we were past Gypsy Hill Station, and the attractive outside of the Exhibition Rooms, to swing into Crystal Palace Parade at 12.50.

The Number 321 Route

Tesco’s Foots Cray to New Cross Gate (Sainsbury’s)
Thursday October 6th 2011

[When we rode this route we were distracted to the point of taking a wrong exit at the roundabout, as at that time a hacker had managed to lock us out of our blogging account to play the old ‘help I’ve been mugged in a foreign country’ scam with it. However, thanks to patience and Google we were subsequently able to resume ‘normal service’.] 

Our last bus had finished somewhere beyond Swanley, well into near-countryside Kent, and we had returned part way of the same route – along the very rural Old Maidstone Road – to Ruxley

Though quite familiar with both Swanley and Sidcup, this was not an area I had heard of previously. Ruxley seems to sit in between – apart from the nursery we spotted catteries and stables and Google offered me beekeepers also, so you see that we were a bit countrified. We walked on round the roundabout and took a turn to find a huge 24-hour Tesco’s where after using their toilets we asked them to indicate where the bus was. There did not really seem to be any actual bus stops (this is a terminus) and the driver said ‘Wait by the bins’ which we did, but not for long. The 321 is a double-decker 24-hour service so ‘the real thing’.

We swirled out of Tesco’s straight into a fairly complex road system and the route lined with industrial complexes, some more lively and functioning than others (this one round the corner before start of the route was the most noticeable) then came B&Q at  Crittall's Corner with this link honouring the heritage of GB-made steel frame windows.

We thought the Coca Cola factory looked more modern but in fact they seem to have been on site for 60 years or so

Unusually Jo displayed some North Londonish preconceptions and when we crossed a little river said ‘Could it be the Wandle?’ ‘How about the Cray in Foot’s Cray then?’ Bexley’s link gives both a description of where it goes and the industries (see above) it used to support.

Through Sidcup, where the driver lingered somewhat and where more passengers boarded. Sidcup High Street had that mixture of some still-thriving businesses and some abandoned 'Aching Soul'  – perhaps to detract you from slightly aching tattoo site? At any rate, tattooing still seems to be going strong. We liked the more unusual pub name of ‘The Tailor’s Chalk’ and some fancy plasterwork on a house.

For the next stretch of this route, still heading determinedly North and West, the 321 is alone through pleasant suburban streets with probably the largest houses we saw on our trip today.  At several points the bus runs alongside the dual carriageway of the A20 and we were able to peer down on the more speedy traffic. We also spotted Flamingo Park, which has nothing to do with those flamboyant pink waders but seems to be a sports ground.

On our left Jo spotted Marechal Niel 
A military leader whose name meant nothing to us, leaving us wondering why he might have an Avenue named after him near the Sidcup by-pass. The following, written in slightly translated English, explains both his military exploits (French, on our side at Sebastapol in the Crimea) and, more significantly I guess, his incarnation as a dramatic yellow rose.

Keeping up the momentum we were soon in New Eltham with its small cluster of shops round the station and the Beehive pub, which we had spotted on our previous trips down this way. The route into Eltham from here is served by several routes and even more buses congregate there; today we felt quite smug as the 321 is one of the few double-deckers and we certainly had an enhanced view of the range of buildings along the High Street. Given the Tudor heritage (Eltham was a royal palace for many years) it is not surprising that this is echoed in both later building styles and shop names.

We have been through Eltham many times and started and stopped here, but had not previously spotted the Yak & Yeti – one of a small (new?) chain of Nepalese restaurants. By now we had crossed over to Greenwich borough, which always seems to have a lot of regeneration work on its plate with Balfour Beatty and others involved in building here. 

Once we had negotiated the roundabout at Eltham Green we were clear to head on into Lewisham and Lee Green; there were roadworks which slowed us somewhat but led us to think that perhaps some regeneration was due here as well. Time was that there were busy council offices on the corner – Housing and Social Services – and thus enough people to stimulate local lunchtime trade at least, but with these blocks nearly empty the little shopping centre looked sad. There are some fine older buildings at Lee Green – the two Tiger’s Heads and some Dutch style gables.

Today it was still too leafy to spot the Boone’s Almshouses set back a little. But we did note the  Accordion Shop with its most excellent website .

Lee High Road is actually quite narrow for the volume of traffic and number of bus routes so we had slowed significantly – I also spotted that rather sneakily the driver had changed the destination without announcing it so we waited until he had overtaken the 321 in front and leapt off and onto the following bus so as to complete the route. The second 321 was heaving with people by now so we took our seats where we could. Obviously the 321 is related to the 21 and from Lewisham onwards we followed the latter route up Lewisham Way passing both Lewisham College, which seemed to have more students in evidence than Goldsmiths’ College up at New Cross. Progress is always slow here, which is doubtless why the routes get terminated early, but Lewisham Way has a predictable consistency of familiar landmarks – the multi-coloured house that looks as though it may have been hippy commune, the  Aladdin's Cave by St John’s Station, the New Cross war memorial and the Celia Hammond charity which will neuter pets for free, supported by a keen cat owner I used to know.

The last bit of traffic round New Cross gate meant our arrival into the spacious car park at Sainsbury’s was an hour and five minutes after our leaving Tesco’s in Sidcup. This was a trip form nearly rural Kent to Inner London student/transport hubs. It also occurred to me that you could arrive too late to do your shopping at Sainsbury’s and just get on a 24 hour bus back to 24 hour Tesco’s in Foot's Cray !