Heathrow Terminal 5 to Southall Town Hall
Tuesday August 10th 2010
Having broken our 5-bus odyssey with a lunch break on the ground floor of Terminal 5 we were ready to set off again. It was interesting to note quite how many cabin staff were buying lunch and food in M&S. Not sure whether this reflected something they know and passengers do not about the in-flight food or – to be more charitable – they were just shopping to take home after their flights arrived?
Because of course T5 was designed with bus and train access and arrivals in mind, it is very easy to locate the bus you want/need and before very long we were able to board a very new and as it happens ‘green’ double decker – unusual when you are up in the 400s as we were. It’s a service that only runs 3 times an hour so we were lucky not to wait long.
The bus groped (being underground it was like night-time) its way round lost and jet-lagged passengers and long and weaving stacks of abandoned luggage trolleys being wheeled back to base before emerging into daylight and this time a tour of the Southern perimeter of Heathrow – the central reservations are nicely aquatic and landscaped and in places the perimeter fence is a significant concrete wall, rather than a mimsy fence. I thought this was probably due to discouraging terrorist ram-raiders, but Jo thought it might be more about protecting the various cargo areas. And cargo depots there were in plenty the length of this part of Heathrow, with the 482 making little forays into them twice before diving into Terminal 4 – still the departure point for most long-haul flights. The planes are vast close to, and there is even a repair bay, where they need stacks of scaffolding just to reach to clean the windows. At Terminal 4 those boarding were more staff than passengers, since T4 is served by several of the valet parking firms that collect near the bus stops.
And then it was back to Hatton Cross (for us for the 3rd time today) and again a popular point for joining the Underground, though quite why there are more cars than buses in this photo is not clear?
In quick succession the bus crosses the A30, the Bath Road A4, and even the M4 of which we had an excellent view seated upstairs. Oh – and did I mention the Piccadilly line and the River Crane, quite impressive hereabouts.
The bus heads north, not distracted by all these crossings, skirts Heston and spends quite some time round the Norwood Green estates; these it seems are managed by Ealing and I am not quite sure when we slipped from one local authority to another … For those of you who may think I am obsessed with local authority boundaries believe me if you have worked for one, there is no way you ignore the borough boundaries and dream of offering a service to someone who does not ‘belong’ Anyway Ealing seems to be taking good enough care of the range of housing on offer, and the trees were certainly mature enough to be banging on our roof.
We were heading into Southall, which is very firmly situated around a clear High Street/ Broadway crossroads. Today however it was so busy the traffic was at a standstill and it took us 20-25 minutes to get to our end stop – Southall Town Hall. I have to say the Town Hall is not the first thing I would notice in Southall, which was pretty vibrant even on a rainy day with the streets densely packed with shoppers. This is the place to get your Asian speciality vegetables and of course your wedding finery. Southall is essentially Punjabi, and very well established, though other Asian communities have joined at many points since – a shop front reminded us of the forced exodus from East Africa of huge numbers of families in the early to mid-Seventies.
The pub on the corner is the Glassy Junction – what you might term a ‘fusion pub’: classic English building with Indian décor and beers and food – what’s not to like?
Much though we might be quite happy window gazing through Southall even we felt today that perhaps we had sucked the goodness out of Southall so were quite pleased when the bus let us out at the now defunct Himalaya Palace cinema, all ready to catch our last bus of the day.
This was a bus to remind of the development and history of transport – from the old country lanes through the early canals, more advanced road and rail transport (both underground and overground) the Motorways of the Sixties and finally air travel at its most dense and intense round Heathrow, and who’s to say what’s best.