Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Number 340 Route

Edgware Station to Harrow Bus Station
Wednesday March 7th2012

This was a wet day but we were not going to complain as months have elapsed since it  has rained on our parade, and the South East is in drought. Also we had only just caught our previous, fairly infrequent bus as it was drawing away and were in a mind to check again its frequency and count our luck, when the 340 appeared. (So no time to verify the frequency of the 305.)

It also meant there was no time to savour our last visit to Edgware Bus Station, the 340 being the highest route number to pass through, or as today start or finish here. Edgware Bus Station is one of the best for which our criteria are
  • easy  for changing routes
  • clean
  • well signposted and set out
  • close to a station (Northern Line in this case)
  • adjacent to a modest shopping centre with lunch-buying and toilet facilities.  
  • frequently playing classical/soothing music

There is a road to cross to access either trains or shops but the buses are patient and well trained and the crossings are clearly marked.

I loved this piece when Tanya Gold wrote it two years ago, maybe I’ve linked to it before but it’s worth it  The bus station also seems to have its own Facebook page – who ‘befriends’ a bus station? – other bus stations?  Bus routes? Drivers?

To get back to business: the route started with a left turn out of the station and went straight ahead at the crossroads, passing the very familiar Church of St Margaret of Antioch – busy bee that she was (see the link on the 303) – and the stately solid red-brick Edgware Police Station. Not a state of the art police station but one that houses the Child Protection Teams for Harrow and Brent (yes I know it’s confusing, most of Edgware is in Barnet borough but the border runs along nearby Stonegrove). The building dates from 1892.

As the 340 heads towards Canons Park the semis that line the route get more substantial and are set further back from the road. 

‘Cannons’ [occasionally sic] Park was originally the ducal estate for Lord Chandos who seems to have been both an embezzler, abusing the trust of his public position, and then an  ‘insider trader’ and poor speculator to boot, so not surprisingly his estate fell into decline.  So the name has nothing to do with either big guns or small priests.

St Lawrence’s Church is also historic and Handel is said to have played there with Lord Brydges/Chandos as his patron.  

At the next crossroads the 340 turns up Marsh Lane, where it is the only route on offer – on a day like to day it was easy to imagine this as marshland but essentially it’s a small strip of Common land before the well spaced housing continues; much of it set back behind green verges.

Like most of the sights on our trip today the Ernest Bernays Institute, recently restored but looking small adjacent to Stanmore’s Sainsbury’s, was not seen at its best through the rain and gloom   but does serve to remind us that Stanmore was a village long before its current status as yet another mixed High Street, though admittedly in better shape than many.

We thought the bus might be heading to Pinner as we glimpsed the rather charming white sign posts but in fact it goes through Great Stanmore (is there a little Stanmore?) and more direction Harrow Weald. Here the grander semis are interspersed with newer, retirement type blocks. We saw Heywood, not one of the major firms, was building even now. From their website I gather they may be a descendant of the once radical Notting Hill Housing Trust founded to combat the inequalities in housing apparent in the Sixties, though never really eradicated.

Here the bus is alone as a numbered route but with company from some of the Hs (mainly H12) and they pass close to Harrow Weald cemetery and the rather attractive and substantial churchyard of St John the Evangelist. We also spotted ‘The Miller & Carter’ trading as a steakhouse but research indicates this is a ‘false traditional’ name and they are actually a chain of Steak Houses so doubtless dreamt up by a focus group or advertising agency…

The rain was pretty constant by now, so much so that the wind screen wipers were squeaking relentlessly, therefore no surprise when lots of people boarded indicating that a double decker was a fully justified choice for this route.

The stretch of route between the roundabout and Harrow Bus Station was all too familiar (see routes 140, 182 and 258) but like leaving Edgware we think this is the last time we shall pass this way, meaning through Harrow Weald and then Harrow. itself.  We could doubtless retrieve photos from these earlier trips but in the spirit of truthful reporting we shall give you Harrow in the rain. The lamppost banners were advertising the Harrow Dance  & Food festival. While I can see that these two activities celebrate the diversity of this North London borough dancing after eating never seems that advisable, speaking digestively.

After this comes the usual sequence of Bus depot, Salvatorian College and Harrow & Wealdstone Station, less monumental inside than out, the Civic Centre, monument to bureaucracy  like all local authority centres, and finally the somewhat depressed High Street that runs to the bus station . Jo had already announced she was not going to photograph the ‘Golden Lady’ just short of the bus station but snapped our final destination instead. A rainy jaunt of 35 minutes through NW London. 

And Harrow Bus Station  - murky but musical...


  1. 305 runs every 15 minutes during weekday working hours and every 30 minutes 8pm-midnight and public holidays. You can set a clock by its regularity; it leaves Kingsbury Circle on the hour and half hour at these times.
    Little Stanmore is mostly known as Cannons Park. I think the official name of St Lawrence Chrch is The Parish Church of St Lawrence Whitchurch, Little Stanmore. Handel did indeed play there; canny investor avoided the South Sea Bubble!