Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Number 380 Route

Thursday 9 August 2012

A beautiful, sunny day seemed to Linda and me just right for taking a bus from Lewisham to HM Prison Belmarsh, and we met at the station.  Mary was having fun at the Olympics:  we hoped as much fun as we had had earlier in the week!

The bright sunshine and single decker bus meant that pictures were hard to obtain, but Linda did her usual competent thing.  We were off by 10.10 and soon out of the streets of Lewisham, passing the Clock Tower and heading up Lewisham Hill.

I am always surprised at how bits of London join together, and lo, here we were on Black Heath.  We spotted two mounted police officers, as well as an enclave of police vans and tents (for communications, we thought, rather than sleeping bags and campfire singsongs.  Of course - we were very close to the Equestrian events in the historic part of ROYAL Greenwich.  Our economical instincts were reassured that the borough has not changed every sign to reflect its royalness, which dates only from early February this year.  There was also a funfair going on, but Linda and I passed it without a pang of envy.

We were allowed along a road closed to other traffic, (by which I mean that someone in a high vis jacket moved a bollard to let us through) and headed towards Charlton, crossing the main road which feeds the Blackwall Tunnel.  The route became very wiggly, and our driver demonstrated both skill and patience in roads too narrow for parked cars, buses and moving traffic all at once.  We came past the Charlton Liberal Club, clearly dating from the ancient days before Lib Dems and such.  It said it was affiliated with the C and I Union, but the TUC website gives no clue of what this might be.

Heading steeply uphill, we were reminded again of how hilly south London can be.  There were large blocks of public housing here, being renovated;  the housing became more varied as we came into Charlton Village.  We noted Charlton Reptiles shop before we turned left down Church Lane to reach Charlton Park and Marion Wilson Park (or Maryon Wilson Park as it is spelt on some web pages)  It seems local people have been having a campaign to save the animal centre there.

We passed St Thomas's Church, whose sign, interestingly (well, I thought so anyway) refers to the Benefice of Charlton, rather  than Parish;  and then, of course, we were into Woolwich, with the various barracks converted into houses and flats.  Our route was fairly wriggly, but it is clear that it is always like this, and has nothing to do with the Olympics.  It did mean we came rather close to Woolwich Dockyard Station as well as Woolwich Arsenal Station.  There is a big screen on the area outside the station, though people seemed more interested in their shopping than in watching Team GB.
(I hope no-one will mind if I mention now that I am still not clear about why it is GB and not UK?  Are there no competitors from Northern Ireland?)

 Now we headed on to turn right at the new flats where Crossrail is coming.  The same hoardings have been up, promising frequent and accessible travel to central London, ever since we first visited Woolwich in the spring of 2009, but I suppose we shan't see progress until stations and such begin to sprout.
Opposite Plumstead Bus Garage is the Greenwich Islamic Centre and mosque, a handsome building, only recently completed.

Turning into Goosander Way, we realised that we were into Thamesmead, with its streets named for birds, as well as some actual geese along the water's edge.  The various streams which criss-cross Thamesmead are mostly canalised and artificial, but none the less attractive for that.

 Once we got out of the town of Thamesmead, people were getting off with their shopping, rather than getting on, and after Hillview Drive we were the only passengers, back westwards, to reach the little layby next to Belmarsh Prison at 11.00.  All seemed very peaceful, and it was hard to imagine this as a category A prison, or indeed to picture Ian Huntley, Ronnie Biggs, Abu Hamza and so on in this green corner of Thamesmead.


  1. There are lots of competitors and, indeed, medallists from Northern Ireland; at least 3 of them from my husband's old school! He gets very aerated about it being called GB and not UK, especially when he was competing: "I'm NOT GB" he said, crossly. I had to tell him to shut up and skate, a not infrequent occurrence at competitions....

  2. IanVisits got a look behind those hoardings in Woolwich last week and, as usual, blogged about his visit.

  3. Re: GB not GBNI, they tried to change it for the 2004 Games, but the Irish Olympic Association objected, as they claim to represent all of the island of Ireland (as indeed they do; anyone born in Northern Ireland can choose to represent either country). It also includes some Crown Colonies and Overseas Territories (Isle of Man, Guernsey etc) but not others (Cayman Islands, Bermuda).

    VERY excited about the upcoming 381, which I use every day!

  4. The CIU is the Clubs and Institutes Union - an association of, broadly speaking, working mens' clubs. Affiliation means that members of one club can use the facilities (cheap beer, bingo, snooker etc) of another, usually for a small charge. My dad was a member and so we used this a lot on holidays around Britain.

  5. Just come across your blog via a mention on the www-what a great idea ie bus journeys and blogging-I had great plans to travel with my bus pass which as a non driver has been a godsend as 2 weeks after I received it my husband died suddenly so the bus pass has saved me a fortune on our local buses!
    I live in Teignmouth South Devon -did plan to see how far I could travel with my pass but nearly 5 years later haven't ventured far though one day I do want to go via Exeter to Poole in Dorset and Bude in Cornwall

  6. Saw you girls on BBC news just now. Can I just saw, what you are doing is fantastic and keep up the good work.

  7. Just discovered this blog via the lunch time news, and was amazed and delighted to see that one of the "ladies who bus" is none other than my former history and 6th form class teacher, Mrs Hunt.
    I'm looking forward to catching up on your travels.

  8. Saw u on the news too, good work..!!

  9. Just seen you on the news - fantastic - what a great idea. I'm currently walking the London Underground overground which is basically walking between each station on each of the London Underground lines - currently doing the Metropolitan Line and once I've completed that it's just the Waterloo and City Line to do (Waterloo - Bank) and I'm done. I'm doing it for the Lifeblood Thrombosis charity. I've really enjoyed it - going to do London Overground and DLR next for the Alzheimers Society. Brilliant job ladies - well done xx

  10. Well done ladies. Keep it up.

    Last year, I visited all 92 football clubs in alphabetical order by public transport. You get tired and bored and that was a lot shorter, although I was trying to do it in a month. I don't want to be pedantic, but have you done a 38 in the New Bus for London? They should name them. So you three deserve three!

  11. I've never seen any spelling other than Maryon Wilson Park. It's named after the Maryon-Wilson family, who used to own most of the land around Charlton, including Charlton House. There's another park, Maryon Park, on the other side of the road the 380 route uses.

  12. Hello, I've just seen you on the news and was very impressed with your endeavour - and your enthusiasm! I was wondering if there's a way I could message you privately? I would love it if you could send me an email at Thanks, and well done! x

  13. I heard this on BBC News, and as a disabled freedom pass holder I am already doing trialling similar on the SkyscraperCity forum: featuring one tube station at a time.

  14. Not trying to do you down - I think I've said before that I admire your plan and that I admire your input - but my pedantry is inbuilt:

    Black Heath should be Blackheath
    There is surely no such word as 'royalness' - shouldn't it be 'royalty'?

  15. The same applies to vehicle country code. We put "GB" on / near the number plate and not UK, "GBJ" for Jersey, "GBG" for Guernsey, "GBM" for Isle of Man. What do people put on their vehicles in Northern Ireland if they want to drive to abroad? Again it seems individuals make up their own mind...