Friday, 20 July 2012

The Number 364 Route

Dagenham East (The Bull) to Ilford (Hainault Road)
Thursday July 19th 2012

I shall admit it – ‘I am a Lady who Buses and today I was bored’. As you can see from the photos, it was as grey a day as you might get late of a November evening and we seemed to spend most of the trip passing through grey pebble dashed houses, with the odd one in cream. Only occasionally did a few front gardens remain or offer a splash of colour by the hard standing. So I shall be brief.

The District Line was being ditsy today so we started a little late from Dagenham East, from where it was a short stroll to the beginning of this surprisingly frequent route. I say surprising as sections of it are ‘Hail & Ride’ and there were often very few passengers until we got closer to Ilford.  Sadly, Mary was on deathbed duty and perhaps this cast a pall over proceedings – anyway we noticed that local undertakers W Coe & Co not only sponsor a Bereavement Service but also were sponsoring the Dagenham Fair due to be held in the local park  

Essentially this bus serves the Becontree Estate, built as ‘homes for heroes’ after World War I but taking ten years to complete, and when finished the largest area of public housing in the world.

Having said that the houses have stood up well to the fifty plus years of wear and tear from families old and new – they did seem wonderful to people rehoused from tenements or slums and are a great tribute to the Public Housing Movement with reasonable rents/ fresh air / repairs from the council all on the plus side; on the debit side shops seem a bit few and far between. 

The Sydney Russell School / Leisure Centre / Children’s Centre were obviously named for a local volunteer school governor etc having previously been Dagenham County High School and its buildings, close to Parsloes Park, reflect both its historical origins and more modern re-vamping.

We passed another branch of West & Coe the Undertakers, not difficult as they have 14 branches round Essex. Death on the whole is a thriving business and rather more so than some we drove past. On the other hand the businesses still operating offer a wide range of services. We passed a church named for Saint Elizabeth leading to a debate as to whether it was named for the mother of John the Baptist or St Elizabeth of Hungary – according to Wiki the latter had a niece named after her who is known as St Elizabeth of Portugal, so you have a choice of three.

Talking of choice of three, by now we had joined up with two other routes on the approach to Goodmayes Station, but left these behind again as we turned left off the main road into another section of ‘Hail & Ride’. Round Seven Kings the property is definitely older and indicated we were closer in to Central London. On one corner of Ley Street between Seven Kings and Ilford we spotted what looked like brickwork spelling out ‘Ilford Garage’ but with only a few desolate Veolia vans inside – research indicates it was a former Trolley Bus Depot built in 1903 but since sold off by the council. The roads here were narrow enough to warrant one-way Priority signs and whole terraces had turned their fronts over to hard standing. (Coincidentally, this was the day when the Evening Standard had a story headlined ‘600,000 homes in London give up gardens for parking spaces’ – the equivalent, the story continued, of seven Hyde Parks.) A few of these homes had retained their ironwork canopies.

The 364 emerges into one of the main approaches to Ilford and we realised we had not been here for very long time, but had not forgotten the one-way approach past theatre and library to come to a graceful halt at Hainault. Street, about 45 minutes after leaving Dagenham. Redbridge borough had placed many fine flower towers along the pedestrianised High Road but it continued so overcast that we failed to capture on film the attempts to cheer us on our way. Saints (St Margaret of Antioch joined the party also), undertakers and attempts to cheer up pebbledash with customized details are about all I can offer you for the Route 364.   

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