Romford Station to Brentwood (Sainsbury’s)
Thursday June 7th 2012
After a fairly slow start to the day due to a very infrequent service, a mere 15 minute wait at the lively bus stops by Romford Station posed few problems. It had not yet started raining and it was half-term so there was plenty of ‘people watching’ to be had. The buses come as thick and fast as the waiting passengers and when our 498 rolled up the throng (cannot be called a queue) surged and Jo and I found ourselves not only separated but she without a seat for the entire journey, so full was this route, running three times an hour. I guess it had been Market Day in Romford and most passengers stayed on till Brentwood. It was a smallish bus with a buggy getting stuck and having to de-board and re-board via the middle doors. Though mid-June the bus seemed full of germs with sundry heavy coughing going on – Jo later said that she overheard the perpetrator saying she had what can only be described as poorly managed asthma.
From this you will gather life on board offered rather more novelty than passing the familiar landmarks of the Romford one-way system and leaving by the roundabout with the hotel and Town Hall gracing it. By the time you read this the events will be long past but we were travelling in the week of the Jubilee Celebrations and flags and bunting were still very much in evidence. (As well as the indifferent weather)
But that is about all that was to be seen – this is a completely straight route out of Romford with post war housing where the front gardens have frequently been suppressed. It’s also a while since we mentioned that favourite building material – pebbledash – of which there were some fine examples. A novel use for a former petrol station was the Wax-on Centre with no fewer than three people polishing one car – hand-finished indeed! The main landmark along here is the Gallows Corner retail park with Tescos tucked behind but noone was doing much retailing or parking (or indeed hanging) today. (The 499 account will tell you how we got out of Tescos, which is not well served by buses)
Thereafter we pretty much sped along with houses further and further back from the road by now became the A12 and dual carriageway, so by the time of Gubbins Lane (what a lovely thought) there were just some hedges and walls visible. The bus pulled in at various lay-bys to take on more passengers with occasional signs to the Marylands Golf Club or Old McDonald's Farm Park – perhaps more Peppa Pig than Gloucester Old Spot. (or even, thanks Mrs Redboots, Giggly Pig)
The road signs were keen to offer us the Dartford Crossing but obviously this is a local bus. The ‘voice-over’ told of a stop called ‘The Bull’ but all I could see was a ‘Nag’s Head’ so not sure what was going on there – they looked the sort of pubs that might be good for a Sunday lunch or evening pint.
I was a bit confused that there was more than one reference to ‘South Weald’ (as in SW Luxury Care Home’ as I had always thought the Weald was down in Kent and Sussex, but further investigation indicates it is part of Brentwood Local Authority.
Brentwood itself has a long and in parts historic high street including a memorial to a local martyr, William Hunter who aged 19 declined to adhere, even after threats and substantial bribes, to the re-instated by Mary Tudor Catholic dogmas and was burnt for his beliefs. Brentwood School was founded on the site. We rode the High Street one way and partially walked back. Most passengers got off for the shops and this is the point to say that on both our Essex buses today every single passenger was of the same ethnicity, even this bus which carried the full age range of passengers, not just the Freedom card holders. In amongst some old-fashioned shops there was also some street sculpture for which there was no visible explanation so clearly the locals must know what the pierced column carvings actually represent.
The bus terminates round the corner close to Sainsbury’s and thanks to some fast action along the road out from Romford took just over ½ hour.