Friday, 28 September 2012

The Number 393 Route

Clapton (Kenninghall Road) to Chalk Farm (Morrisons)
Monday July 21st 2009

A summer’s day which was rather overcast, close and trying to rain found us changing plans in Newington Green and deciding to walk cross-country (or more accurately through Hackney) to pick up a high number cross town route rather than double back on ourselves and the Number 21, which had left us at Newington Green.  The 393 is a single-decker bus, weaving its way mainly through closely parked streets taking passengers for short hops, often to key rail or underground stations en route. The passengers reflected the diversity that is Hackney, with religious beards and headscarves of both Muslim and Jewish persuasions.  The driver seemed confident in his route and even stopped for some random passengers away from the stops.

To start with the road names seemed keen to remind us we could be heading east out of London very easily – Southwold, Halesworth, Theydon and East. Hackney is very densely populated and there were housing developments of different ages, including a very new one close to a light industrial estate with storage and other facilities, probably backing onto the River.  We dipped over the Lea River Navigation, then climbed quite steeply out of Clapton/Dalston and, leaving E5 behind, entered N1 passing en route the Jubilee and then the Simon Marks Jewish Primary Schools, this being a route more likely to pass the smaller schools rather than big comprehensives.  The Jubilee School website did not tell me when it was built – ie which Jubilee – but the Simon Marks site indicates the school was founded in 1953 close to a synagogue and moved to its current position on Cazenove Road in 1973.

After crossing one of the major routes that we leave to big buses we passed both Abney Park and Stoke Newington Common, not to be confused with Stoke Newington Green where we had been earlier in the day. The Capital Ring walk passes this way so Jo and Andrew had walked these streets. **

Being a nippy vehicle, the 393 was able to get down Stoke Newington Church Street which is splendidly but not entirely yuppified, with a variety of individual as opposed to chain store shops. Taking pride of place on the narrow street are the William Patten  School and the Daniel Defoe pub, both commemorating historic local  residents. Defoe had attended school round here and after a chequered life falling in and out of debt and political favour finally died in nearby Moorfields.  We noticed Hackney were restoring the old Assembly Rooms and council chamber and then the road comes out at Clissold Park
where the New River Walk crosses.  To be found nearby is the New River Pumping Station, and here we spotted (but failed to photograph) another ghost bike.

Across Green Lanes we then headed down Highbury New Park which is largely intact with huge old but very beautiful houses, now mainly divided into very pleasant and roomy flats.  Balfour Beatty, not content with the Olympics and East London Line extensions, was also building some new homes for Islington near the corner. “As any [North London] fule kno” this will bring you out at Highbury Corner – clearly a popular embarking and disembarking point for most of the passengers waiting to join a decent tube line, or arrive for a certain Football Club. You are guaranteed to see a supporter in the appropriate kit, whatever the time of year.   The bus continues down the Holloway Road for a while and past the once film-rich Coronet, now just another Wetherspoons.  Then it goes  briefly left into the Caledonian Road with the splendid side streets that are Stock Orchard Crescent etc. North Road cuts across even further west (you kept feeling the bus was failing to find King’s Cross but that of course was deliberate) and gave us the the Pleasance theatre,  (which seems more a comedy venue), then  Jo’s local health centre/GP practice. From that you can see how close we were to a home address and we did indeed pass the end of the road!

‘The Lord Stanley’ pub refers to the Stanley around at the time of Henry VII as opposed to the Livingstone one. It also offers a theatrical experience.   From Kentish Town Station we continued down Leighton Road, again not as wide as you might think.  The Kentish Town Road is familiar shopping territory for the locals. Heading ever further west along the Malden Road we suddenly debouched onto the bottom end of Haverstock Hill and there we were at Chalk Farm and the beginning of the ‘hippie’ (or should that be ‘punk’) but in any case more obviously the tourist trail that is the Chalk Farm Road leading to Camden. Town. Bus progress along here is invariably slow as swamped by  ambling visitors. However the 393 is  a no nonsense bus and finished its cross town trip neatly parked up beside the new build Morrisons, having taken an hour end to end and offering a wide range of entertainment from parks to football to walks and theatre..  

** 2 years down the line so had Linda and Roger, though they were unable to complete the ring as the Olympic security fences descended across the Greenway.

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