Wednesday 25 July 2012
Linda and I reached the start of this route with a pleasant walk along a small lane from our previous bus, about which you shall read soon. The lane narrowed to a car-block, happily not a pedestrian one, through the kind of houses which we imagine are occupied by people who made good in the East End and sought country air and seclusion on the edge of the Green Belt in Havering. We got to Havering Park just as our double decker was ready to depart, and climbed to the front of the top deck at 12.30, in the wonderful sunshine, headed for the Mardyke Estate in Hornchurch. We started down hill, with Linda commenting that it was hilly for Essex, past substantial properties, not all of the front gardens hardened!
I felt a bit nostalgic as we passed the Clockhouse Primary School, because it was the kind of wooden chalet that my children attended, some distance further west in Hertfordshire, and some years ago.
Coming into Collier Row, we liked the neat use of apostrophes in the Fish 'n' Chick'n shop, but we were also pleased to see the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity Shop, since we remember her and know she was a local (well, Brentwood, anyway)
Passing the Bell and Gate Pub, we thought the 'gate' bit of the sign resembled a portcullis rather than any old farm gate. As we crossed the A12, we noted a derelict garage, on a plot so long disused that trees other than buddleias were well established. It seemed to us that the failure to build on such a prime spot was a clear sign of recession.
This was not the first visit to Romford, and it felt pleasingly familiar as we nipped around the ring road, passing where the Number 5 lurks ( Spring 2009, that trip). We went round the back of the shops and bars which front onto the High Street, and came to Romford's musical industries heartland, with PMT and the Universal Music Studios.
A roundabout with a beautifully planted pedestrian underpass (I hope you can see the lovely verbenas on the left of the picture) brought us to the shiny Queen's Hospital. As Rachel says, buses always go to hospitals...) but we did not seem to pick up many passengers there. The bus was fairly busy, however, with children as well as shoppers.
This is the area where duplicating by Roneo has left its mark on street names, shop names and so on. We can tell how old people are by the amount of love they feel for decent modern photocopying and printing (any ex teachers out there remember the banda?)
Anyway, on we went, past a gargantuan Tescos and into Hornchurch, where we enjoyed 'Beddy Buys' as a name for a furniture shop, and saw that Harrow Lodge Park was very bustling and busy with families enjoying the summer. We realised we were close to the Ravensbourne, which flows through the park. (Linda doubted this, as she knows the South London version, but here's the evidence, or indeed here)
As you know, I am fond of strange cycle lanes, so I thought you might enjoy this brief stretch. I can't remember when I last recommended Warrington's famous 'cycle facility of the month' website, so here it is again. Makes Hornchurch's effort look positively useful.
We reached Elm Park Station, and headed into the residential areas around. Many of the houses had excellent gardens, with beautifully tended shrubs, though of course the kind of summer we have had till now makes everything look green and lovely. We also admired the fine plaster work on the end of one of the houses.
We travelled along Mungo Park Road named, as I know you all know, for the explorer of Africa, which we have visited before. Soon, however, we turned into the smaller roads of the estate, named after boys (Linda wondered if they were princes: Edmund, Philip, Hubert, Frederick; but I was not sure about Hubert!) We were the only bus serving these streets.
After about ten minutes of houses and gardens, we came into an area of high rise block and new build, and reached the end of the route. It was 13.30, but without a pause the bus headed on, to complete a loop and bring us back to the main road we had left earlier. We only knew that we had reached the end of the route because the indicator board stopped saying Mardyke Estate and started saying Havering Park. It was 13.30.
In this sunny weather, it was great to be around the green suburbs of east London; we were surprised that the bus was a double decker since, unless you count Romford, it didn't really go anywhere particularly significant to non-residents.