Friday, 21 June 2013

The H17 Route

Harrow Bus Station to Wembley Central Station
Thursday June 6th  2013

Real summer you might say and not before time. This was just as well as we had obviously just missed the previous bus on the 4-an-hour route that is the H17. However instead of being huddled inside the cheery red Harrow Bus Station we could wait outside, just glimpsing our destination – the spire of  St.Mary's and Harrow on the Hill. The church has a long history as a building which was added to over the years, most recently by Giles Gilbert Scott. We then boarded along with most of the rest of the queue. There may be exclusive sections on this route but this was not reflected amongst the passengers, who were all with their shopping bags or school bags empty and full.

Going in this direction the bus can pass through what remains of Harrow’s High Street and start climbing uphill fairly quickly – Peterborough Road being both steep and residential. Once on the crest, from where there are excellent vistas (I shall cheat here and add a photo taken last year whilst on the Capital Ring Walk) and more entertaining views of chaps in boaters and teachers in gowns moving between the various buildings of Harrow School, the one that is not Eton. If Jo were writing this you would get a rant about how these schools were originally set up for ‘several poor boys of the Parish’ or some such and continue to maintain charitable status and tax exemptions when they are no such thing (poor boys of the parish I mean). The High Street and the scattered school buildings are quite picturesque though, including the couple of pubs and restaurants clustered at one end. As you might expect no-one much got on.  ‘I escaped from the horrors of my boarding school on the H17’ does not quite cut it.

The bus then descends down Sudbury Hill, passing both the Cygnet Hospital, which would appear to be a private psychiatric resource, and shortly thereafter the Clementine Churchill Hospital, yet another private hospital. We like that it is named after Clementine Churchill rather than the Harrow old boy who has so much named for him.

Down the hill there are more schools, St George’s RC and the playing fields for John Lyon, an independent boys’ school.  John and his wife were buried at St. Mary’s, back up the hill.

At the major road intersection there was a reassuring sign to Wembley, but then somewhat disconcertingly the bus headed off along the Greenford Road, in other words to Sudbury. Sudbury has four stations, one a still smart Charles Holden Piccadilly line one with those parades of shops and residential streets fanning out, which are very familiar on the further reaches of the Underground (by now going very much overground) system.  Along with one other route the H17 follows Whitton Road East . At this point I spotted a road named Bridgewater, which puzzled me slightly as the Earl or Duke already has stuff (like a concert hall and a canal) named after him in Manchester and I did not really associate him with this part of Middlesex – however it seems if you follow that road (the H17 does not) you will find yourself crossing the Grand Union canal at Alperton.  By now were closing in on Wembley which means of course you see the arch more piecemeal and far less dramatically than from afar.

Rather as we left Harrow, we entered Wembley from below and what felt like the ‘back door’ passing the Fusilier Pub, which apparently offers B&B as well – as you can see from the attached  hatchet jobs it’s never a good idea to think you might sleep over a pub…

Chaplin Road had a brand new Wembley Health Centre in it which looked purposeful and busy and very soon afterwards we came to a halt in Ealing Road, a quietish side street. The station, which is Wembley Central, was more popular with one half of the party than the other, proving to be up a long flight of stairs.

We had handed the driver a card and he asked for feedback on his driving (lots of drivers think we are covert inspectors, little do they know I cannot drive) which we duly praised as parts of the route are narrow, congested and quite difficult.   

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