Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Number 383 Route

Woodside Park Station to Barnet (The Spires)
Monday June 28th 2010

Passing Comment: We rode this route two years ago – before we had our five minutes of fame last week – so it was a route devoid of glamour or incident, which is what life on most of the 300+ routes ridden to date has been like. We have, however, in view of our ‘celebrity status’ (come on, now, let’s not overdo the irony) now also been asked to lend our support to a campaign against the proposed library closure in Friern Barnet,  through which we passed during this trip.  As you may imagine, as Freedom Pass users we also approve of libraries which offer both book and IT access to their communities plus local information for all users. Many library buildings are very attractive and well situated near bus stops so it would be sad to see them go and I am sure this applies to Friern as much as any London area library faced with closure.  

Following on the hottest day of 2010 so far and England’s defeat to Germany (that could be 2006 or any other year then?) in the World Cup will remind what you were all doing as this will take some years yet to be posted

 A muddle for which we both shared the blame meant instead of walking a short distance from our key bus we had taken a more circuitous approach and found ourselves waiting 25 minutes for a twice hourly service which we had clearly just missed – nice station frontage but nowhere to sit, but no complaints about the sunny aspect of things. Some locals with dog in tow, clearly knowing their route, arrived just in time to board the very smallest of buses – a mere 47 person capacity vehicle with only one door.

You will guess from this that sections of the route were ‘Hail & Ride’ and indeed that was the case – it was nice to see how well the driver knew his passengers, asking after the health of a gentleman whom he had missed seeing for a while.  

Woodside Park appears to merge into Torrington Park, all situated within the London Borough of Barnet, which we must have crossed most of today. Some parts had Edwardian villas turned into multi-occupancy homes or small hotels, then later came inter-war era semis with some infill from newer smarter small blocks. We passed Friary Park a fine Edwardian Park on the site of a former Hospitaller foundation – this route, along another of North London’s Ridgeways, skirts two aspects of the park but because of the bus size photos were difficult to take. This part of Barnet still has some historic buildings in the shape of some pretty little almshouses, endowed in 1610 by Lawrence Campe,  though the buildings are from a later, probably post –fire date. Then there is a church alongside the North Middlesex Golf Club, which seemed to be touting for  Lady Golfers, but finding no takers amongst the Ladies Who Bus
I confess we got quite confused about the geography hereabouts nearing Oakleigh Park as we seemed to go from Friern past Whetstone and Totteridge Station (you can’t seem to have one without the other?)  and then into New Barnet – Barnet council has put up a series of signs telling the public they are entering East Barnet Village or New Barnet (or even Friern or Chipping)  but some of the bits of New Barnet looked quite old. Old enough to have a pub named the ‘Lord Kitchener’, which Jo  found interesting. This would have reflected a time when his reputation would have stood higher than it does today.

 Also there was me thinking Whetstone was something different but it may just be a corruption of West Barnet … This cross borough route needed its small bus dimensions as we passed through a very narrow bus gate (one-way for us only) and under a very low bridge similarly. There was significant passenger changeover at Sainsbury’s as shoppers got on and off and then another flurry of interest as we entered Barnet Barnet, where the bus left us at the Waitrose (not the first one today by any means) entrance to the Spires shopping Centre so named we think for Barnet having the tallest church spire in London – see our comments on the Route 34. 

This really cannot be described as anything other than a very local hopper bus but a pretty relaxing 40 minutes in the back streets of yes – you remembered – BARNET
Whetstone has been described as historically being an important staging post but I am not sure the  Route 383 will have the same fame in years to come..

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