Romford to Passingford Bridge
Wednesday July 25th 2012
The last few trips have seen us working our way round Essex and today we had a ‘cunning plan’ that involved a late start and a nearly country walk. Although we had to route through Stratford two days before Olympics Opening Day all went smoothly and we arrived at Romford Station with a full 25 minutes before our time-tabled bus – Jo had researched the times as this route only runs once every 90 minutes so there was no room for error. Time for a leisurely stroll to the Liberty centre for some loos – you might think – but in the end as the loos turned out to be more or less on the way out to Brentwood the gentle amble turned into something of a scramble. As we had expected, this was a single-decker but at least it had 2 doors and a good dozen passengers boarded.
The route round Romford was very familiar, taking in the usual shopping centres and market (not today), a nostalgic glimpse of the Number 5 bus, and regrettably the usual quota of empty offices. Some of the Pasties joined us on the bus though. Havering Borough plant up their verges and roundabouts in a cheering fashion and today we were duly cheered encouraged by, at last, some good hot weather. We did enjoy Mr William Muskett (Optician) feeling with a name like that he ought to be a highwayman stopping the (Stage) Coach bus between Chase Cross and Havering.
Also amusing were a series of Cadbury’s adverts for different Olympics events suggesting one might have to jump 80 Twirls to equal the long jump or lift several hundredweight of Dairy Milk bars. Do try this at home perhaps?
Still paired up with several other routes we made our way across the A12 passing reassuring terraces of 1930s semis until we reached Collier Row where we took a path less travelled – namely the Havering Road through Chase Cross and past Bedfords Park, a local resource for the local community – I note they offer a Caterpillar Club for budding biologists: do you suppose they offer Slug Slaughter sessions also ??
I confess to a long held yen to visit Havering atte Bower, mainly because there are few place names which retain their medieval spelling and this one seemed handy for London. I was not to be disappointed with lots of signs to said Bower. It seems it was once a palace and certainly the Green stands on high ground with excellent views both back into London and out wards. Nor surprisingly three walkers got off here and there are options beyond the London Loop, which passes close by.
You had to be quick as this driver took no prisoners and whirled on as fast as the width restrictions allowed him, just about slowing for ‘squeezes’, so we did not see, and certainly could not photograph, as much as we might have wished. The Dame Tipping school reminded us that often schools were started by local ladies for the benefit of the poor, but like ‘atte’ the name does not always last. This school was founded in 1891 which is quite late when you think that the village sign dates from 1042. Out of the centre of the village the homes were fairly recent builds and quite swanky – think metal gates and automatic garages (his/hers) and you get the picture of East Enders who have done well. The bus descended down to Stapleford Abbots, passing farms and stables, with ‘The Rabbits’ (though a dropped letter ‘t’on the building suggested a rather more surprising name for a pub with such a rural setting) a popular destination with the passengers greeting each other as they got off. Stapleford’s Primary School had moor chicks walking up the roadside banks, but they will have to learn some good road sense if they are to survive.
We were of course the only passengers left as we reached the roundabout that marks the Passingford Bridge. The time-table indicated a 6 minute break for the turnaround but in the event the driver did not turn off the engine but swung straight round to pick up those waiting to get into town. I can tell you that the bridge crosses the River Roding and it would have been nice to see it but we did not dare leave the vehicle. Our fear was substantiated as he screeched to a halt well past the stop at ‘The Rabbis’ where a woman had stuck out her hand. After passing back through Havering and enjoying two bright red ‘Skip A-hoy’ lorries we dinged the bell at Kilnwood Lane, from where we were able to walk straight to our next route alongside the Havering Country Park, in fact all part of the same once royal hunting grounds as was all of this route.