Thursday 16 May 2013
The 'H' routes go in clumps, and we began, as you might expect, with the low numbers, which are based at Golders Green Station and its recently beautified bus station. What, you may ask, about the H1? Well, despite not being numbered in the 600s, it is a school bus, going to and from Henrietta Barnett School, Our second bus driver of the day did indeed ask us, and when we explained our aversion to school buses, said, with what we thought was a slight shudder, 'you should try it in the afternoon'.
So our H buses begin with the H2, a gentle circular route around some of the richer areas of North London. This was a very small bus, of the kind with one door, and an Oyster reader made almost inaccessible by the opening of the door.
We turned out of the little side area of the bus station at 11.15. The War Memorial on its island has the four words 'Loyalty, Justice, Honour and Courage' around its top, all words worth fighting for, if only one could be sure of the 'justice' one.
We noticed that Golders Green had become less prosperous, judging by the number of charity shops, and the closure of some others, such as the ice cream place. We noticed JAMI, which is a charity dealing with mental health issues in the Jewish community, a reminder of the predominant ethnicity of the area, as well as the other more common charity shops.
Turning up Hoop Lane, we passed the crematorium and the various graveyards which line both sides of the road, before entering an area of residential streets. We were heading into Hampstead Garden Suburb.
The area is very pretty, or course, and green: we thought perhaps residents had to have hedges rather than fences or walls, but I have not been able to confirm this. What is clearly the case is that Henrietta Barnett's vision, that people of all social classes should live together, is long gone. These are the homes of the very wealthy, who get to enjoy the wide roads and green spaces, as well as the substantial gardens. We saw a number of striking wisterias, as well as lilacs just at their best, and some acers and azaleas as good as anything at Kew.
We are not sure what Ms Barnett intended about shopping: perhaps cheeky errand boys on bicycles; but there are no shops here, and few people took advantage of the Hail and Ride of our bus. The first sign of commercial activity came when we turned into Falloden Way and had a brief stretch of main road and shops, before turning back into Bishop's Avenue and more enormous houses.
Some were clearly not good enough for their current owners, as we saw a considerable amount of building work going on. In Willifield Way, there is a plaque to mark where the composer, Eric Coates lived, though it is not an English Heritage plaque (he has one of those in Selsey) Here's a bit of the London Suite for you. We also glimpsed another blue plaque as we turned along Meadway, but I have not been able to pin it down.
Soon we were back along Hoop lane and passing the church of St Edward the Confessor, with the chequered stonework at the top of its tower
This brought us back along Hoop Lane to return to the Bus Station at 11.40: a pleasant little ride for a warm day when, if we had not known better, we might have thought that Spring had finally arrived.