Heathrow Terminal 5 to Richmond (Pools on the Park)
Wednesday June 12th 2012
Jo and I were on our own while Mary did some recuperation, and however tedious the day might have been (and it wasn’t) we were enjoying the first reasonable if slightly tentative sunshine of June – not that either sun or indeed light was very visible initially as this trip starts from the Terminal 5 Bus Station (beautifully clear in its lay-out but definitely under a runway or two and therefore in perpetual gloom). Unlike Jo I have a soft spot for airports and was one of those strange people who volunteered to try out T5 on a January Saturday about three months before its infamous opening.
This was a clean and newish single decker bus and even took on some passengers with long-haul luggage switching terminals. From this you will gather the route starts its life by scurrying along the Southern Perimeter Road, a dual carriageway which follows the River Crane, and takes in the Heathrow cargo centre (Royal Mail hangs out here), Gate Gourmet catering, the long stay car parks and then Terminal 4 where a few suitcases and their owners transferred. The bus shelter sported a poster supporting the 4th runway (which I think is unlikely) and a large advert for Etihad who are following in the footsteps of Emirates by sponsoring a football stadium.
Soon we were swinging into Hatton Cross where most of the workers for Heathrow emerge – it is truly an airport which never sleeps.ggs Road, Feltham whose website subsequently told us that it is the newest of Hounslow’s cemeteries, opening in 1974, built as indeed all cemeteries need to be, with forward planning in mind. Thus there is a large section designated for the borough’s growing Muslim population for whom burial is the only option, with graves orientated towards Mecca. There are of course also sections for other denominations. This is very much a newcomer amongst some of the burial grounds we have passed.
The route 490 detours to serve what feels like the back, but when it was built was undoubtedly the front, of Feltham station where there are some older homes. On the whole the bus avoids the newer High Street (plenty of other routes don’t) but takes a turn round what must have been the original Feltham village – so narrower roads and older quainter houses. As the original school dated from 1904 we guess most of the homes do also - however they have chosen a more modern font, Comic Sans for their school board and their website – sigh.
We crossed another trickle which I suppose was the Crane though there is also a river Longford hereabouts. Passing ‘The Airman’ pub reminded we had still not come far from Heathrow though believe or not we only spotted one plane today – not sure where they all were.
We took the Staines Road option to Twickenham, which means passing the substantial golf course and swathes of fairly samey residential homes, mainly of the Thirties semidetached variety often with front gardens given over to car parking. At one point there was a smell of burning rubber (were we alight?). I was rather puzzled by the large letters EABF on some metal gates but find they (the gates) belong to Entertainments Artistes Benevolent Fund, which has its HQ here and I rather think is a rest home for retired entertainers.
Fullers Brewery, who cherish their pubs, own the very charming ‘Prince Blucher’ along near Twickenham’s traditional village green though why the German hero of Waterloo is commemorated here I am not sure – at that point the Germans were on our side so perhaps we felt ‘credit was due’.
Obviously sunshine helps, so Twickenham Green was looking very attractive and clearly expecting to host some cricket with covers (? what do I know) visible. Twickenham is nearly synonymous with Rugby but today we were not passing those grounds, but there were others to come. Contrary to appearances the Green was once part of Hounslow Heath (famed for its footpads and highwaymen) so has been upscaled into a faux traditional village green, complete with village pump.
We hit our first significant traffic of the day along the High Street so had time to study the shops. Talking of upscaling, we passed 'Chez Chevallier' which sells that combination of chocolates, champagne and flowers which Jo suggested usually indicate presents for mistresses or presents for wives from guilty partners… A debate over the spelling kept us going until we left Twickenham behind and were passing both Orleans House gallery and more importantly the lovely little Marble Hill House (now the mistress here – Henrietta Howard, consort to George II as Prince of Wales – would have been in receipt of the 18th equivalent of champagne chocolates and flowers.. and whole little villa perhaps?) The website has much better pictures than anything we managed from a speeding single decker bus.
From here traffic slowed us down on our approach to Richmond Bridge – this is very rich territory for Charity Shops, which line the pleasant approach to the bridge, and we did capture the Thames looking brown and murky after days of rain but no flooding as far as we could see. More slow traffic round Richmond station, then on beyond there for the home of London Scottish Rugby (they seem to come thick and fast in SW London) before we pulled into Pools on the Park where the 490 terminates. The pools are indoor and past the first flush of youth so we did not linger and pushed on down the Lower Mortlake Road to our next route, the 493.