Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Number 349 Route

Ponders End to Stamford Hill
Thursday January 12th 2012

The 377, our first route of the day (Jo had had her planning hat on – similar to the sorting hat but more useful), had left us at Ponders End all ready to cross the road and leave Ponders End (forever) on the southbound Route 349, which proved to be a somewhat dispiriting experience. First sight was a Wetherspoons pub called the Picture Palace Pub; usually they have a line of history but this one only explains the beers and gives photos of the quite nice inside. The outside was curiously nondescript.
Further along is the Boundary House pub, doubtless a reference to the boundary ditch, now more likely a culverted sewer /  former river which is a very common fate for these old waterways.  Also fairly charming was the row of villas all named for trees – Willow/Pine/Poplar/Chestnut/Cyprus (sic) and alongside the Conservative Working Men’s Club, something which would have been considered a contradiction in terms back in the day (on which subject, by the time we had reached the end of this route the poverty on view was such as to bring to the fore all revolutionary tendencies).

Back to the bus route, which was gathering more and more passengers below but as many were quite disabled the upstairs remained fairly empty. This route offers little novelty and rolls on down in pretty much a straight line from Lower to Upper Edmonton via Edmonton Green, familiar to us because of its canopied and efficient bus station.

The shop signs show that the route segues from a Turkish and Eastern ethnicity to an ever broader range of nationalities, but the properties visible along the main road became increasingly sad or derelict. Clearly the blight engendered by the whole ‘Will Spurs move to the Olympic Stadium’ followed by last August’s riots have left Tottenham looking even more depressed. Many of the shops and blocks were empty, some possibly being squatted and certainly attacked by pigeons close to the Alpha Road turning. Haringey has a difficult borough to manage and was trying to give a positive feel to what remains of the High Street with its ‘We Love Tottenham ‘ posters but it felt a bit of struggle. There was also a rather enigmatic street sculpture of a horse, and a cat?

Spurs’ stadium and the shop alongside are showing their age as well, but the club’s futile bidding for the Olympic Stadium cannot have helped local commerce. Ironically on the day we passed Spurs, having played their match in hand, had just gone 2nd in the league and were doing as well as they ever have for very many years in the wilderness. Close to the Tottenham Community Sports centre there was a car boot sale in progress and very well attended too – adults with no other place to go during the day.  The fact that the Aldi store has gone as well seemed the finishing touch.

By the time we reached Seven Sisters things were smartening up a little – this is a very busy thoroughfare with at least eight bus routes passing through and at one point a dedicated bus lane to keep things moving.

There were some lighter moments along the way. A dry cleaners promising ‘No Mark Dry Cleaning’, ‘The Elbow Room Pub’ and some light-spirited graffiti in anti-capitalist mode.  The route also includes a Blue Plaque, which is fairly self-explanatory honouring local explorer John Williams.

This was a very straight, uncomplicated, double-decker north/south route with few twiddles and no single portion of the route which was not covered by other buses, so combined with the faces of the successive high streets a rather lowering experience.

I hope when I come to blog this later in the year things will be looking up for Tottenham – the place rather than the club. 

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