Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Number 488 Route

Bromley-by-Bow to Clapton Pond
Tuesday April 14th   2009

Our previous journey (the efficient Number 8) left us outside Bow Church so we did a local walk, hoping to use a toilet as promised (on the map) at St. Andrew’s Hospital – however, on closer inspection this proved now to be a Barratt Homes building site. A kind official at the Underground station let us use the facilities usually reserved for staff.

The 488 is not as frequent as many.  It’s a single decker, used mainly by shoppers from the rather pleasant recently built Tower Hamlets estates getting from their homes to Tesco’s etc. It was however a very clean and comfortable bus, which wove its way under the A11 Blackwall Tunnel approach and thence back to Bow Church, covering a short stretch of the Number 8 route then alongside and over the Hertford Union Canal, under the A12 (rather bleak underused industrial estates) and into Hackney (now E9) and older more worn buildings.. It just passes a corner of (Victoria Park ) and detours in order to stop outside the surprisingly large Hackney and Homerton Mental Health resource. The narrow streets and traffic slowed us down, allowing closer scrutiny of individual landmarks such the older Cardinal Pole RC school and the very splendid and nearly complete City Academy Hackney. 
 The pupils had been asked for their specifications which were displayed as posters on the security fencing – ranging from Low CO2 emissions to basketball and swimming ambitions – another pupil who wanted his school to be ‘noticed’ had certainly achieved that. The architects are Studio E and the builders Willmott Dixon and the school’s website offers an extensive virtual tour – rather empty of children it has to be said – of premises due for occupation in September 2009. It had certainly overshadowed the National Trust Property at Sutton House along the same road ! 

We then speeded up alongside the quite pretty Clapton Pond, where we had only to cross the road for our next bus – back to the low numbers and a 38. This trip was much as scheduled at 35 minutes. 
Like New York, so good we rode it twice…
As you can see from the double entry, we had actually ridden this route before but were then alerted (thanks Diamond Geezer) to the fact the route had changed since 2009. Also we had no photos, so here we were nearly four years on and near the end of our Project, not back in the single figure days of the Number 8 bus. 

The Number 488 Route
Bromley-by-Bow to Dalston Junction
Thursday January 3rd 2013

This time we found the actual resting and starting place in Hancock Road – an unprepossessing slip road beside the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road but backing onto a Tescos so there were several early shoppers waiting to board and all along it was nearly full.

There are several blocks of flats along side the main road (it starts by a sort of clover leaf to get itself back facing north) which were probably not yet complete in 2009, and certainly looked bright and fresh.

Bougyes are building a school here too and the start of route will need some enhancing no doubt.

After calling back at Bromley by Bow station, where they were dispensing the rather good maps produced for the Olympics, we passed Bow Church and Churchyard , which since we passed this way has had its  700th Anniversary. Quite an achievement for an area which has been re-arranged several times due to the advent of the motor car, and Mr Hitler’s bombs. Though a low level bus we had enough glimpses of the Orbit and the Stadium to remind us of the other changes since 2009..

The 488 also negotiated the fearsome, especially for cyclists, Bow Interchange sporting its large identifying letters.  (I don’t suppose they would have bothered if named the Shacklewell Lane interchange for example?)  This too must be Olympics linked enhancement. Once off the more main street and into Fairfield Road you are entering an area of very attractive housing, where even the Bus Garage is Grade 2 listed. No change of drivers and we carried on past the Bow Quarter.

Once into Wick Lane the public housing comes thick and fast – the route passes under the route (what is known in our house as the ‘new route to Cambridge’ having appeared between the need to transport two generations of students) and squeezes through a narrow band of population just fitted in between the Queeen Elizabeth II park (not yet open) and the older Victoria Park, then crossing the Hertford Union and just missing Fish Island. Hackney Wick station was planting up for the spring (there is more beautifying to be done round here). 

Before Homerton Station the bus passes the back of Cardinal Pole School – a cardinal with a colourful history – proclaiming your objections to Henry VIII’s proposed divorce will never make you popular and he seems to have sat out the rest of Henry’s reign abroad, while other family members died. He returned to serve Mary Tudor, hence his being revered by the Catholics, dying very shortly after she did.

The Banister House flats, still noticeable because of their proud arch entrance, were built in 1935 to replace poorer and more ‘jerry built’ dwellings, and the Jack Dunning (presumably a Hackney worthy?) estate was built still later, probably to replace World War 2 related damage. As we drew closer to Clapton we passed the City Academy, now complete and open for 3 years, and soon after the Clapton Girls'  Technical College, now Academy,  which also has a 100 year old history.

The traffic was flowing well so we passed the Clapton Ponds swiftly, turning off down Kenninghall Road but pausing long enough in front of the 60’s build RC Church of St Scholastica – apparently St Benedict’s twin sister, you live and learn – to see the congregation emerging from a service.

Not only was this bit of the route the addition made in June 2011 but it also has given a bus service to an area hitherto unknown to us, radiating out from Shacklewell Lane, where the light industrial areas are interspersed with more social housing.  At least this time I can say Morris Blitz (splendid name) was a former hackney mayor – do you suppose his childhood was blighted by people saying ‘ Now speed up there Morris and live up to your name,’ or ‘less noise there Morris’ ? Situated on Shacklewell Green is the Petchey Academy, named for a local entrepreneur and philanthropist.

We were soon to emerge into more familiar territory, namely Amherst Road and the Kingsland Road still boasting its Rio Cinema. Very few high street cinemas remain and the reasons for this are clear from the website: ‘The Rio has developed into a cinema that is responsive to the interests of sections of the community often ignored by mainstream commercial cinema. Examples of this are the annual Turkish and Kurdish film festivals, the Saturday morning Children’s Picture Club, midweek Classic Matinées, the recently introduced Parent and Baby Matinées and participation in Spanish and Gay and Lesbian film festivals. While all the other cinemas in Hackney have disappeared or become snooker halls and car auction rooms, the Rio continues to adapt and flourish’

This just about seemed to sum up the 488 which includes sundry churches, a few mosques and four secondary schools on its route – surely when the 5th one opens they are, as you might say, going to need a bigger bus?  Much has changed in the four years since we rode this route but much is constant too. 

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