Monday, 29 April 2013

The EL2 Route

Ilford Railway Station to Dagenham Docks  
Wednesday  December 12th 2012

We have walked the wrong way  just about every time we have been near Ilford – the place plays host to so many bus routes that they are generously scattered along its highways and byways (mainly a fierce ring road). Today, having slithered our way from frosty Hainault, we finished behind the High Street and started looking for Bus Stop P. With Q and R to hand you might have thought there would be a handy P but no. We then (my fault) found ourselves sidling along what was not intended as pavement as the cars and buses raced past on the ring road, and fell into Sainsbury’s. Still no bus stop as required but at least a sighting of both EL1 & 2 and we finally tracked them down opposite the almshouses  but known locally as the hospital chapel and the oldest building in Ilford/Redbridge.

From old to new we were about to board one of the East London Transit double deckers, introduced in 2010 (after we had set up our Project’s database aka the Master List) in order to improve services and provide speedier connections for the people living in the Thames Gateway areas. There is a rather strange US rather than UK ring to the term ‘transit’ but that’s as may be, we were very firmly in East London.

The 2 routes have quite a distinctive red and orange livery and they certainly run very frequently.  Off we set down Ilford Lane, where we noted most of the businesses were geared for the South Asian communities – very large and impressive fruit and vegetable displays, several specialist sari and wedding shops, two jewellers and inevitably a law firm specialising in immigration.  At this point a couple of primary school classes got on and distributed themselves both upstairs and downstairs chattering away in their twos.  Just as the EL2 gets to the Mosque on the corner of Victoria Road it crosses the very thin end of Loxford Water, a small lake in Barking Park which may well trickle on into the Thames, heading much the same way as us.

Barking announces itself by the Roundabout Art – fish nets with caught herring to remind passers by of its history Barking flourished as a fishing port from the 1400s until late Victorian times, with the Barking fishing fleet one of the most important in the country. The first Ice House to enable fish to be preserved was built in Barking in 1829.

As a special bus we were allowed on past the station and to take a route through   the High Street , which is largely pedestrianised, today boasting lamppost mounted Christmas decorations. In anticipation perhaps of the better links promised by the east London Transit scheme there is significant building in Barking Town Centre, including the intriguingly named Lemonade Building. There are plenty of views of the flats for sale/rent but no idea why the building has this name other than the rather citric colour scheme.

Leaving Barking behind we found the Ripple Road, where several previous routes had taken us, and remembered of course the impressively large and yellow brick Ripple Road Primary School.

Still that was all we were to see of Ripple Road this trip as were about to cross, quite quickly as it happens, the A13 and continue perceptibly down hill along the aptly named River Road.  Not only does it run parallel to Barking Creek but it crosses a few of the smaller tributaries that run into it, and of course gets down to The Thames.

But there was one more important place for us to call, namely along Bastable Way and the Thamesview EstateThat is not the most positive picture and East London Transit is one of many steps being taken to address the isolation – we noticed the school party getting out at the midway focal point of this estate and thought they must be heading into the Sue Bramley Centre, which offers a arrange of nursery and other activities.

There is more building at the far end of  the older Thamesview Estate where the EL1 terminates. Though we had not heard of Jerram Falkus they seem to be a well established building firm and had the contract to extend the range of housing here.

Leaving the EL1 and residential life behind the EL2 speeds on down to Dagenham passing both empty and desolate land on one side interspersed with storage and depot facilities. In the old days ships not inclined to pay their dues as far into the city as Docklands, could offload here and distribute by road or carrier. Apart from the Beckton Sewage works and the Power station there are the large and very impressive electricity pylons that you can see from well south of the river, Eddie Stobart has a depot here as do Hovis – a far cry from their 'pushing a bicycle up cobbled streets' image they like to portray. There also seemed to be several areas with barred access and more re-cycling facilities .

Really there are no bus stops along here, very little traffic so the bus can belt along until it rather surprisingly comes to rest under the A13 near Dagenham Dock station.
 We barely had time to explain our ‘mission’ to our driver when we leapt on the next departing EL2  to get us back to Thames view. A quick, as it should be with this scheme, and contrasting trip of old and new housing old and new industries. 
PS. Life has rather caught up with us so there may be a wait for our next the meantime there will be a random non-route, not on the bus maps.
Thanks to diamondgeezer for keeping the faith with us and keeping us up to date with transport developments.    

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The EL1 Route

Wednesday 12 December 2012

This is the route that was called 369 when we began the project, but had vanished into the East London Transit incarnation by the time we got there.  So we were pleased to be able to make a quick dash in and out of Ilford, having done the 462.  We had taken the EL2 all the way to Dagenham Dock, and then told the rather baffled driver that we were going back to Ilford but needed to do it on the EL1 rather than on his bus.  Although, being a sensible chap, he was not entirely clear about this, he took us back to the Thames View Estate, whence we picked up the EL1, boarding at 12.30.  The driver told us that on these new buses the ‘not in service’ notice, which had concerned us as he rested, automatically changes to the destination on departure: ah, progress.

We had seen on the way down that the bus stops were due to be closed  ‘at the times specified below’ and our change of buses had enabled us to see that this was to be every night for a week for resurfacing.

We have to admit to being baffled that there should be two frequent double decker routes which repeat the journey from Thames View Estate to Ilford Station, though the EL2 does extend to Dagenham docks.  This is not a densely populated or highly commercial area.  Still, as you know, we feel that the more buses there are the better London is so hooray for the EL routes.
We waited by some great traffic slowing signs and hopped on with a number of other people, presumably heading for the shopping opportunities of Barking or Ilford.  We came past the Short Blue Pub, now very shuttered and derelict and indeed having suffered a couple of fires.   It actually closed in 2009 but was originally named for the Short Blue Fishing fleet which was based in Barking until it relocated on the East Coast in mid Victorian times.  Perhaps by the time you read this the proposed flats will have replaced it.

Next we passed the enormous Thames View Health Centre, and came up to the huge A 13.  We noted that the cycling Superhighway 3 goes along here, but mercifully on the pavement at this point (pic), not among the many lanes of fast traffic.

 Once we were over the main road, we rolled alongside Greatwood Park and to the massive Ripple Primary School.

This brought us into Barking with its fish sculpture on the roundabout, a reminder of  Barking’s past as a fishing town, and also the mosque.  

We were passing lots of lovely Indian dress and jewellery shops, but alas at too brisk a pace for decent photographs.  And then we were into Ilford, past rather a jolly preschool and Sainsbury’s, to pull up within a short walk of the station at 12.55.

The E11 Route

Friday 5 April 2013.

This was our third bus of the day, so Linda and I could not really complain that it was a single decker.  

We had crossed the main Greenford Broadway from the E2, and were shivering for a few minutes before the welcome sight of an E 11 appeared.  So we were on board by 11.40.  It was a bus so small that it only had one door.  It was headed to Ealing Common.  We came out of Greenford past a fine parade of shops  and a large church  before reaching the River Brent. 

At first we went along predictable lines, past Brentside High School and the playing fields of Drayton Manor School but then we swooped right into Gifford Gardens, for a tour of residential streets, narrow and with cars parked on both sides of the road, requiring skill from our Driver.  This was clearly a ‘hail and ride’ section, though not announced as such, and the driver waited patiently for a lady of mature years to cross the road and join us.  We reached Greenford Road, and went straight for a while before  looping again to reach Castle Bar Railway Station, and the dense public housing of the area some of which is being refurbished at the moment.

We passed some allotments, and Drayton Green open space, with football being played  before going over the railway at Drayton Green Station, and we were back on ground familiar from previous routes:  the sharp right turn into Sutherland Avenue, and then Sutherland Road turning into Argyle Road, and the shops of West Ealing. These include the Cherry Pye Erotic Underwear boutique and the flats where there was once a storage facility.
We also noted the Soapy Suds dry cleaner and launderette, and the huge Ealing Police Station, as well as an Iranian food Emporium and the Black George Pub.  I do not know why it has that name, though I can find plenty of news coverage of its troubled past, shootings, knifings and so on. 

 As we reached The Grange Pub, and began to skirt Ealing Common, we were the only passengers left on what had been a very busy bus.
At 12.10 we reached the end of Warwick Dene, and the terminating point of the route.  The driver said it would be ten minutes before he headed back, so we got off, but since I had left my notebook on board and we could not work out which way up to hold the map, we climbed back on board, and Linda offered the friendly driver a peppermint as well as our card.

So that wraps up the E buses of Ealing;  after a brief encounter with the East London Transit system, we shall be off to the Hs.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The E10 Route

Monday 22 April 2013

The only way from the end of our previous bus (the E9) was to ride it  all the way back, so here we were (yet!) again in Haven Green, Ealing, waiting for the bus that would take us to the Islip Manor Estate in Northolt.  Haven Green was so much  pleasanter in the warm sun than it had been on the freezing cold March day when we shared the space with many school pupils, so we should not have minder a long wait.  But the E10 rolled up, only a single decker, sadly, and we hopped on with many other passengers at 12.35.

We set off left along Castlebar Road, boggling at the enormous houses, several of which had become care homes or private schools. Turning right along Argyle Road, we admired the soft green of Cleveland Park and then took a left along Ruislip Road East, which felt pretty familiar after all these E buses.  Ah, the River Brent again, we remarked in a blasé tone, but it is a remarkable waterway, after all.

As well as the Gurnell Leisure Centre, there were many residential properties of all kinds as we came into Greenford, passing shops demonstrating the varied ethnicities of this area (we have talked about the Sunjam Caribbean takeaway in the past, but we also liked the way the Raghif supermarket benefited from Ealing's municipal primulas)

Then it was out of the town centre, passing the war memorial as well as signs to the London Motor Cycle Museum before getting back to the Ruislip Road and crossing the Grand Union Canal.  We knew we were getting towards Northolt when a military helicopter buzzed by.

We were puzzled by the great mounds in the park to our left, and speculated about tumuli, or mottes left over from early castles;  but it turns out we were looking at the spoil from the original Wembley Stadium and White City shopping centre, turned into a facility for public enjoyment.
 As we came under the main A40 and into Northolt itself, we liked the rustic air of St Mary’s Parish Churchthe first Anglican Parish to appoint a woman, according to Wiki at least. 

The Business Park is perhaps less attractive, but then we came out into the main road and were cheered by the  charming ‘countryside clock’  before heading up through the residential area that surrounds Islip Manor Park to reach the end of the route at 13.10: a pleasant little grassy space right alongside the roaring A40.

 All in all, a pleasant trip, linking some of the areas we have got to know in the past few weeks, and with sunny weather for our last visit (the E11 having been travelled earlier.

The E9 Route

Ealing Broadway Haven Green to Yeading  
Monday April 22nd 2013

This was my first official trip (as opposed to innumerable business and compassionate journeys) since returning from Vienna, where thanks to a weekly travel card I had criss-crossed the admittedly quite small city using all forms of transport for a mere 15 Euros. What’s more no-one ever checked my ticket, nor are there any controls to enter the buses, trams or Underground system. There is the odd punch machine but no one takes much notice. I gather the fines are pretty hefty if you do get caught ticketless so perhaps that’s enough to deter the Viennese from cheating, but it all looked a bit trusting to me. Lovely trams, now smoother than the buses, which was not the case when I was a little girl.

Anyway back to Ealing in the Spring, and that was the overwhelming experience of this route – how many green spaces there are in Ealing and the tentacles its routes reaches,  all seemed to be bursting into leaf. At last a reward for travelling several of the earlier routes in Arctic blasts.

The E9 is one of the routes which starts as what we had come to recognise as the ‘posh end’of Ealing – mansion flats overlooking the common, a huge Victorian red-brick church, and large double-fronted detached homes up the aptly named Eaton Rise, with bright pink cherry trees.  After that the homes get even more fanciful and large with turrets and driveways but these are the sort that by now have been turned into multiple flats/schools or care homes.

St Barnabas (‘a mate of St Paul’s’ Jo said helpfully for the heathen amongst us) church marks the start of Pitshnager Lane which wends its way nearly to Greenford, in true country lane style. Further along the shops, with flats above, were built in more unified style and this stretch certainly has the feel of a village, with more independent than chain shops.  ’The Director’s Cut’ proves to be a hairdresser, ‘Hook & Cleaver’ a butcher’s and Navarros a wine merchant.

Rounding the corner to drive along Scotch Common and what proves to be an extensive green space variously called Pitshanger Park with some golf course hangers on. As the River Brent is very evident through much of this trip I suspect the green spaces were left as possible flood plains, but whatever the origins we delighted in the avenues of  visibly budding trees. In one corner lurks Pitshanger Football Club which offers competitive games for 7 year olds upwards – today all there was to be seen was a solitary walker. 

If exercise is what you are after then rounding the corner brings you to the extensive car park for the Gurnell Leisure centre, and the Ruislip Road East running alongside the aforementioned river Brent, as eulogised by  John Betjeman.  You can tell that spring has gone to my head.

However there is nothing like the diversity of Greenford to bring one back down to earth, or market day. The pavements close to the Greenford crossroads are wide enough to take some market stalls. It is a wonderfully mixed area with shops adorned by different languages – as Jo said last week our Polish is improving no end but we’ll struggle with the non Latin scripts and cannot even guess what the corner greengrocer was offering without a helpful picture. Fara Charity shops  prove to be there to help fund raise for abandoned Romanian children.  The E9 has been pretty busy for its length and Greenford meant a significant interchange of passengers. Ruislip Road West is well used and by now the E9 is one of five bus routes along here, necessary I suspect to take the people from the various blocks of social housing to school, work, shopping etc.  

After crossing the Grand Union Canal (cue more greenery) the bus leaves the busy roads behind and heads down into Yeading, that is Yeading to rhyme with heading (as in football) rather than reading (as in book) but like Reading (on the way to Swindon) I am ploughing (as in plowing, not ploffing) my way through a book on the origins of English spelling but I think knowing more is making it worse. A case of less is more perhaps.

Please feel free to ignore last ramble. Talking of rambling we were by now into ‘Hail & Ride’ territory as we drove through a large 60s and 70s estate probably built over the brickworks which used to be Yeading’s main industry. There is a Yeading brook too but the bus comes to a halt alongside some local shops rather than anything more watery.

As this was the easiest way back to Ealing we got off politely for 4 minutes while the driver ‘rested’ and then returned with him to our starting point. On the return trip we spotted ‘the Civil Engineer’ presumably a tribute to Brunel, whose work helped build up the main railway lines from the West into the centre of the city.

With a trip of about 40 minutes this is one of the many E routes on offer from Ealing town centre. On the whole though we blogged our number buses in order we did not always ride them in order so having to ride 10 different but overlapping E routes has meant something of a challenge to ensure that we, and therefore you do not pass out with boredom.
Two more to go….

Friday, 19 April 2013

The E8 Route

Ealing Broadway Station to Brentford (Commerce Road) 
Friday  April 5th 2013

Our 10.00 departure plans had been slightly thwarted by the ‘Severe Delays on the Central Line’ that characterised today, but 10.25 saw us boarding the double decker E8 outside the very unimpressive exterior of Ealing Broadway Station. This route is classed as frequent, which sometimes equals popular, and certainly for a cold mid-morning it was full enough.

Just past the station was the ‘Eight Treasures’ Chinese restaurant which led me to wonder what these might be – it seems they represent the most treasured symbols in Chinese Art though it might have been nice for Wikepedia to include the calligraphy too.  

Ealing Broadway, apart from offering us the usual range of shops, has a ‘Civic’ stretch with non-working clocks, Town Halls and Civic Centres all boasting signs saying ‘Council Tax Frozen for Another Year’. I am not sure this is altogether a good thing as underneath presumably will lurk cuts in services (we see, for example, that Wandsworth have axed meals on wheels – on the basis that the elderly can just order in their food via the Internet?) and most people’s wages have also been frozen for three years or so. The other banner was ‘Save Our Hospitals’ with NW London now facing similar struggles to keep A&E services accessible as have already played out in SE London.  This was not our first trip through Ealing so we needed some politics to keep us warm and alert.

At a time when certain sections of the media are talking about the negative aspects of immigration it was interesting to see a very omni-purpose Polish shop offering not just the usual delicatessen display but also accounting services, tailoring and hairdressing all in one, which seemed pretty enterprising to us.

Further along the Uxbridge Road come the two cemeteries, one each for the neighbouring boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

By now we were heading to Hanwell with frequent signs to Hanwell Locks, almost certainly worth a detour if you are a fan of industrial heritage as Mr Brunel was involved – more recent enthusiasts have installed additional attractions (click here for a gentle giggle ) for smaller furry friends…

We also enjoyed ‘Noah’s Joinery’ thinking he must have had a busy year through 2012; with all that rain we had there must have been customers queuing up for his prototype ark?

By now the E8 had turned down Boston Road, named neither for Boston Lincs, nor for Boston Mass, but for Boston Manor House which somewhat to my surprise now belongs to Hounslow and can be visited

Further along Boston Road we were stopped briefly by some road works with a range of hard hats peering hard at something by Clitherow Road – the Clitherows having been the long-time owners of Boston Manor.

Boston Manor merges into Brentford once you’ve passed under the M4, and we approached from what I would guess is the more historic (library/war memorial) end.  Fullers, the Chiswick-based brewery, own several fine pubs along this route and they are always beautifully maintained; I can’t vouch for the beer, but certainly we were charmed by the Beehive, complete with its Griffin delivery lorry, as we approached Brentford High Street.

Brentford has a long and distinguished history as we indicated on our accounts of Routes 195 and more particularly the Number 235. Today, however, although we crossed the Grand Union with grand views we did not stop in front of the County Court but crept round the aptly named Commerce Road at the back which was full of lock-ups, trading estates, spare tyre outlets and the considerable building site for the ‘new’ Brentford.  It was also where this short  (22 minute) route terminated and we immediately boarded the altogether longer E2.