Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Number 426 Route - not

According to the excellent Eplates website, ‘Route 426 was a relatively infrequent circular service from Crawley running via Tinsley Green, Three Bridges, Horley, Povey Cross, Charlwood, Ifield and West Green back to Crawley. Over the years the route hardly changed at all’.

Now there is a Surrey426, which gets you to Thorpe Park.  

Here’s something interesting from Wikipedia which we had not previously realised
Throughout Victorian times, passengers could only recognise the buses of different fleets and routes by the coaches’ distinctive livery colours and line name; with the two end termini sign-painted on the sides to indicate the route, as can be seen in many of Victorian photographs. Then in 1906, George Samuel Dicks of the London Motor Omnibus Co. reasoned: that as the line name 'Vanguard' proved to be very popular, he should name all lines 'Vanguard' and number the company's five different routes 1 through to 5. Other operators soon saw the advantage in that a unique route number was also easier for the travelling public to remember and so the practice of adopting route numbers soon spread.
Historically, bus routes run by London Transport were grouped by the type of service that they provided.
The 1924 London Traffic Act imposed a numbering scheme known as the Bassom Scheme, named after Chief Constable A.E. Bassom of the Metropolitan Police who devised it. Variant and short workings used letter suffixes. The numbers reflected the company that operated the route.
The numbering was revised in 1934 after London Transport was formed.

 But I really wanted to say something about prisons, which, like hospitals, feature of the fronts of buses from time to time.  For instance, the 80 takes you to Highdown and Downview Prisons.  These are category C and so not too intimidating from the outside.  In contrast, the end point of the 380, Belmarsh Prison, is Category A and housed Ronnie Biggs, and more recently Abu Hamza.

These rural prisons make sense (except, I suppose, to the people who live near them) and Highdown is on the site of a former Victorian mental hospital, so could be deemed a classic brownfield development. 

What is surprising, though, is the number of prisons occupying potentially valuable real estate nearer the middle of London.  The Caledonian Road (17, 91, 259, 274) gets smarter every day, and think of all the flats you could build, convenient for the Piccadilly Line, where Pentonville is.  The same applies to the Camden Road, getting ever leafier as it approaches the Nag’s Head Waitrose.  Holloway Prison (29, 253) occupies really quite a large site here.  Of course it also features in that Goons -  Spike Milligan joke about the 29 bus

(We need a 29 bus. Why? Well it goes right past Holloway Prison. Why would you want to do that? Well, you wouldn’t want to go in.)

But the most desirable property must surely be Wormwood Scrubs, a step from Westfield, and not at all far from classy Notting Hill and Holland Park.

Perhaps when they are privatised….?

I am not really serious about this.  With Britain’s main law courts in London, and the huge population of the place, it is not surprising that prisons are central, as they are in other cities, like Leicester.  And good transport links must make it easier for families.


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