Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The H98 Route

Hayes End (Kingsway) to Hounslow Bus Station  
Thursday July 18th 2013

Having missed our weekly outing last week (work and other family commitments taking up all spare time) we thought we should press on and complete two H buses this week, as Hounslow was beginning to lose its charms. Our previous route, the H28 had left us at the Bulls Bridge Tescos and the original plan had been to walk along the canal to Hayes and Harlington, find some other sort of bus and then get lost looking for the H98 start.   In the end, after a certain amount of faffing we called a cab from Tescos and a rather surprised driver delivered us to the resting place of the H28, tucked away in a corner of Hayes called Wood End. Extravagant yes (Linda never takes cabs) but not in the scheme of things when you think we have spent about £10 over a more than 4 year period, so this has been a really cheap hobby. It was hot and we had started later than usual due to Linda’s detour back to Feltham YOI – see the postscript for the H26. Another excuse? We had been rather traumatized by getting lost trying to follow the Crane, and did not want a repeat trying to follow the canal.

Hayes End, or possibly Wood End as it seems to be locally, was a spacious residential area with a triangle of (by now parched) green adjacent to which the buses had a stand. We were really pleased to see the H98 was a double decker and were about to leap aboard when the driver explained he was not going anywhere as he had broken down and while we were chatting the single decker behind drove off without us. We asked why some were single and some double and he told us he had started this morning on a single decker, which had broken down, so they (Hounslow Bus garage) gave him a double decker. We said they were unlikely to be giving him a third bus by which time another single decker rolled up and let us sit on board while the driver had a 6 minute break.  From this you can see it is a pretty frequent service, though also not busy at mid-day.

Leaving the residential area with its intermittent parks, floral roundabouts and other delights behind we drove away from what clearly used to be country lanes to join a straight dual carriageway, bordered by some shops and other civic buildings such at Hayes Police Station and handily close Uxbridge County Court for quick dispensation of justice (or not).

The bus turned right off the main road, passing down the rather pleasant Church Road complete with Church Green and a distant view of St Mary’s Church – apparently the oldest building in Hayes, which was largely farmland or brickfields until 20th century manufacturing firms set up shop here and the housing followed.  The Fountain House Hotel had some sort of plaque, which we could not see but it probably relates to its earlier history as a school where the totally unqualified (in teaching terms) Eric Blair aka George Orwell taught.

Much more 21st Century is the Holmesgate Place development.  And I can see anyone moving there would need the H98 to get to more important transport links.

As we joined Botwell Lane there was some traffic queuing but the driver let both doors open to cool the bus, which made it a more pleasant ride than our previous 1-door only trip.  As well as St Mary’s we had passed a chapel and then came one of those really recognizable RC modern churches that seem very typical in the suburbs all round London’s fringes, this one dedicated to the Immaculate Heart. Hayes Town has probably been spruced up; the roundabouts were newly paved and cobbled and there was an exuberance of hanging baskets and quite a few local shoppers as well. Traffic is managed too with a bus only lane taking a service road behind and crossing over the Grand Union canal. Here is where the various lighter and heavier industries developed and flourished as this part of outer London offered a choice of routes from the West into London: road rail and canal. Just past the bridge there is a large building labelled YMCA though from this website it seems more about local Youth work rather than cheap accommodation??

At the station – Hayes and Harlington – more people got on and the smell of coffee was very evident, not surprising as the Nestle factory is just nearby, though unfortunately for Hayes not for much longer.

The railway station’s name implies it serves both localities though I would have to say it seems nearer to Hayes but sure enough the bus, having crossed over the M4, then arrives at Harlington  Corner, and much slower traffic along the Bath Road. Being on the main road we saw little of what remains of old Harlington save for the White Hart. The proximity of the airport means there is that mixture of bargain accommodation – Travelodge, Premier Inn – airport parking and warehousing type facilities.  Although a Red Route, traffic seemed very slow today and combined with the heat led to a kind of torpor in your author which meant that after several trips in this area it took till today to twig that Cranford, as in Cranford Technical College is named for the River Crane.

Once we left the slow moving main roads behind this was in fact a very pleasant approach into Hounslow – residential with enough shops to serve the locals and the usual sprinkling of schools and places of worship. They also have the only other Mornington Crescent outside of Camden, the Northern Line and Radio 4. This route calls at all the key Hounslow stops: tube, shops etc and is one of the few routes to finish at the Bus Station – actually more of a garage with stops than a true bus station.
This is a long route combining old lanes with major arterial roads and as a result the times given on the bus stop – 32 minutes is way off the mark as today we took 50. And so we say goodbye to the H routes from Harrow through Hatton Cross to Hounslow...

Monday, 29 July 2013

The H91 Route

Hounslow West Station to Hammersmith Station 
Wednesday July 24th   2013

Our last route, the H32, had left us by Hounslow Bus garage and we decided the easiest thing was to travel 2 stops from the ultra-modern Hounslow East to the much more traditional-looking Hounslow West stations, and wait on the forecourt.  The wait was short and up rolled a double decker, both cleaner and better upholstered than our previous ride where I had sustained some fine bruises due to poor padding (both me and the bus).

This was probably just as well as this route, to which we came in ignorant bliss, turns out to be some kind of surrogate Piccadilly Line, leaving us wondering whether they had perhaps introduced it as a bus replacement service and it kind of stuck. Once we had cut down the quaintly named Vicarage Farm Road, alongside most capacious parking for the station (do folk use it and ride the last few stops to Heathrow we wondered?) we turned right onto the 2x3 lane Great West A4 Road and continued in a straight fast line to the end of the route. This means there is a certain sameness in our photos – quite often taken only at the bus stops, and of the cycle lanes which are thankfully well separated from the cars along here. Otherwise we would have needed a video recorder such was the speed.  There were little bays at the bus stop and this was the only route for much of this trip. We were grateful for the improved upholstery given the speeds we reached. I imagine it must be very different in the morning, with the number of cars heading into London.

For an excellent overview of road transport in particular we hope you have all been watching  The Route Masters'. Last week (Tuesday 23 July) the programme looked at cars, bicycles and buses as co road users, each group thinking theirs is the only way while of course some of us use all three modes.

I note from the ever informative London Bus routes website that the H91 is classed as a frequent service which changes during school holiday times – I find this rather surprising as we did not seem to pass many schools on our way.

By the time we arrived at Osterley there were quite a few people boarding including   a passenger behind us who proceeded to sneeze loudly and copiously behind us prompting Jo to mutter ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases’.

From Osterley to Gillette Corner was familiar to us, having walked it in bright sunshine last week, and we again passed the signs to Osterley Park,  the Crown Bowls club – really one of the few breaks in the  rows of residential  houses- before being slowed by the junction  (where of course we had priority) close to the Master Robert pub. Thanks to the comment on the blog last week we now know why a random pub in Osterley has the name of 1924 Grand National winner, owned as it happens by Lord Airlie.  The inauspicious building looks little altered.

Once past Gillette Tower, and here was a factory no longer manufacturing, we entered a few miles of modern free-standing designed-to-impress company HQs. Very little seemed to be about manufacturing – there were two large car showrooms (mainly for European brands), then both Sky and the History Channel (known since 2008 as ‘History’ but not doing quite what it says on the tin) – though Carillion does seem to be a building company.  On the whole we don’t link to advertising, but JC Decaux don’t create the adverts though they do display them worldwide, as the attached video shows.The only unfamiliar name along here proved to be Morse  (Code? Detective?) which the web tells me offers 'Global consulting technology support services.'  So I am not actually much the wiser.

The H91 crosses over the River Brent just where it joins the Grand Union and then comes the biggie – namely Glaxo Smith Kline which has here its impressive large canal-side HQ.  On the day we rode this service GSK was not quite in the headlines, which were reserved for the naming of the Royal baby, but not far below GSK was linked in connection to major allegations of bribery related to securing deals with the Chinese equivalent of the NHS.   The last of this series of modern blocks before we disappeared under the M4 was Mille, so called as its address is 1000 Great West Road – it proves to be offices for hire.

By now we had well departed from the Piccadilly line at Boston Manor and were heading into town in a more southerly and river-wards direction. Before the Chiswick roundabout the A4 goes under the M4 in quite a claustrophobic way – we used to return this way from the West Country and someone had graffited ‘Good Morning Lemmings’ on 3 of the columns holding up the flyover. . now gone but not forgotten

However I have good news for the piece’s author as the Glittering Lucozade bottle has been (re) revealed and Jo took a photo to prove it, in today’s sunshine it looked really sparkly.

The last BIG consortium type office block before we hit the intimacy of Chiswick High Street was EMC2 (without the equals sign so not really an equation) who are another computing organisation, up there doing ‘clouds’. 

We have covered this stretch before most notably on the excellent 27.  The pubs round here are beautifully maintained either by Youngs or Fullers, and include the The Gunnersbury and the Old Pack Horse (it looks a really old horse, said Jo) and lastly the church on the Green, Giles Gilbert Scott’s creation, which was today under scaffolding but this link does not really indicate for how long this might be.

 A mark of this summer’s good weather was that for once those ‘dry planted’ beds, much beloved of office blocks looked perky and not bedraggled and we even passed an oleander,  which would not be ashamed to show its face in the Mediterranean.
As might be expected from so straight a route we had been whizzing along fairly speedily (for a bus that is) and our first real taste of slowing traffic was in the last stretch through Ravenscourt Park and into Hammersmith. For an outer London bus we had come pretty central so narrower streets, more traffic, overhanging trees and old established school such as Godolphin and Latymer came thick and fast.. Hammersmith’s double decker bus station is a kind of traffic island and it always takes a while to cross the stream of traffic but we finished on the top deck under an hour after we had started this trip.

This was a very different experience from most of our journeys along the letter routes – including the H ones – as they mostly serve the quieter corners and far flung estates of a neighbourhood making little darts across main routes: this is the total opposite and fast tracks along a major arterial route perhaps even challenging the trains as a very viable commute route. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The H37 Route

Hounslow (The Blenheim Centre) to Manor Circus (Sheen)
Thursday June 20th  2013

Our first task was to find the Blenheim Centre from Hounslow East station, having spent nigh on an hour getting from one branch of the Piccadilly line to the other…

When we were last in Hounslow The Blenheim Centre had been but a gleam in a developer’s eye so it took some finding: once off the main road we found a snicket to follow and discovered that the Blenheim Centre is basically a huge ASDA store with a Dreams shop and a tutoring outlet with lots of flats above  but it does have the multiple services of the frequent H37 route.

Together with the 337 the H37 is a kind of offshoot or amputated limb of a majestic original 37 route which once  ran all the way from Hounslow to Peckham – indeed I can remember in my time waiting for it in Putney wondering if I would ever get home. Since 1991 the 37 itself has not progressed beyond Putney but the H37 is a worthy descendant of this historic service.    So clearly Jo and I and many other folk were going to head south and east, edging away from central Hounslow past the Coach and Horses, which is well positioned on the main road in and out of London and was a  coaching inn, and Thornbury Park towards Isleworth. 

Much of this area was (probably still is) owned by the Duke of Northumberland who apart from properties in his own county, had land and property (Syon House) here in West London. He gave the land for the almshouses and the building costs were met by a local brewer  (Mr.Farnell) Farrnell) gone nearly a hundred years ago, and remembered only in the name ‘ Brewery Mews’. Even older, dating from Tudor times, is the Duke of Northumberland's River,  which is partly an artificial channel  and the H37  does travel alongside it .

Catholicism seems to have a strong presence in Isleworth between Gumley House (a convent school) and the recent history for Nazareth House, whose less fabulous rear fa├žade is visible from this route.

There are some picturesque pubs along this route also – the Woodlands tavern, the George IV, and then, on entering St Margaret’s, the Ailsa Tavern, named for an Irish peer – or not, depending on which version you would like to believe. Either way it is now a rather pretty Shepherds Neame hostelry.

This is of course the only bus route which passes through St Margaret’s, though it has a railway station. (My geeky partner reminds me that St Margaret’s is the historic home of  Twickenham Studios, founded in 1913 and used among other films for the making of the two Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help! back in the 1960s…)

From here on we were essentially on a run into Richmond , having crossed the minor Crane (some peering over the side of the road); the  Thames, though deeply grey,  was easier to photograph. Passing through Richmond can be quite a lengthy process as the narrower streets were not designed for the volume of traffic plus the added hazard of numerous shoppers criss-crossing in front of and behind the buses – I know, I have done it. Most passengers descended either for the shops or that main railway station but the H37 presses on two more roundabouts to come to rest at Manor Circus, Sheen. The route takes 25 minutes and offers a wealth of local history local hostelry, and an area we had not yet penetrated in our previous 500+ routes!!     

PS It has similar start and end points to the H22  but offers a different experience. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The H32 Route

Wednesday 24 July 2013

This was our last visit to Hounslow and the H buses, though there are a few H buses which we have travelled but not yet blogged.  I can't say that we shall be sorry to move on to the Ks, but it has certainly been interesting to get to know this part of West London.

Linda and I began our journey with a train ride to Southall, and a short walk down the High Street to where the H 32 lurked.  We could never have dragged Mary past the alluring stalls where the honey mangoes were available by the box, so it was perhaps as well that she was busy.  We thought the Methodist Church might be the town hall, which is where the route begins, but in fact the town hall itself was a bit less impressive!

Our double decker was rather aged, and the seats at the front of the top deck were worn to a numbness-inducing hardness, but the driver was careful and gentle, and we enjoyed the ride.  We were off by 10.20, heading for Hounslow Bus Garage.

As we came out of Hounslow, we admired the fine hanging baskets, and also noted the two towers.  One of the many benefits of writing this blog is that helpful people tell us things we didn't know:  so we do now know that the blue gas holder, labelled with an arrow pointing to Heathrow, was one of a pair, the other one (now demolished) labelled 'no' to prevent pilots heading for Northolt. We were not able to discover whether the TRS apartments, with their large label, were related to the major Asian supplies wholesalers, TRS, but assumed so.

This route has innumerable places of worship, probably more gurdwaras than anything else, and we were intrigued to see a Hindu temple next door to the parish church, and a war memorial in the grounds of Featherstone school and next door to one of the temples                                          
We noticed a butcher's shop called Southall Meat Suppliers, and it occurred to us that running a butcher's shop in such a mixed faith area might have its problems:  Sikhs are not supposed to eat any meat butchered in a ritual fashion, and yet the Muslim consumers would want Halal meat.  Almost enough to encourage vegetarianism!

At the Prince of Wales pub, we saw that 'Indian Food is served all day' which is, I suppose, a further reflection of the main ethnicities of the area.  The bus had been filled for much of the way by a variety of friendly and conversational people.

Heading over both the canal and the railway (more ways to get out of London to the west and north west) we came to the golf course, parched yellow by our few days of summer and heat.  A number of Sikh gentlemen were playing golf.  With Muirfield in the news recently, we wondered if we should see any ladies playing, but we did not.
The open space and play area was similarly dry and yellow as we came down Convent Way and passed the little shopping precinct which serves this large residential area.  We saw that the North Star Pub had turned into a Tesco, which may mean that the shopping precinct gains a few more boarded up shops.

The bridge over the M4 brought us into Heston, passing new homes being built almost alongside the motorway, and we passed the Heston Community Centre, where we hope their parking problems of last year have been solved.

Our route took us straight over the A4: we seemed to have spent the journey crossing assorted westward transport arteries.  Straight ahead of us was 'Casino Corner, which seems to be run by a firm called Roar Betting.  Monte Carlo or Melbourne riverside it wasn't.   As we went into and out of Hounslow West Station's forecourt, we looked across at the Ashoka Banqueting Hall.  This clearly did not begin life as an Indian venue, but the website is silent on whether it was a dance hall, or what.  

We also passed a branch of Brahma Kumaris, a meditation based religion, with a fine flag, to add to our tally of religious institutions for this trip.  (there are songs to help you meditate here (after the nappy ad....)  We next came to the Catholic Church of St Michael and St Martin.  This was opened in the 1880s by Cardinal Manning, the Saints being chosen as appropriate for a garrison town.
Turning right along Steve Biko Road, we had time to wonder for the last time just WHICH Treaty the Treaty Shopping Centre is named for.

As we came along Hounslow High Street and to the bus garage, we passed the West London Revival Book Shop and Fellowship, to round off the collection of religious offerings available on this route.  Linda also managed a rather good photograph of an aeroplane, though I suppose we shall be back under the flight path when we get to the Rs.

Our trip finished at 10.55, only a little later than the predicted time.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The H28 Route

Thursday 18 July 2013

Another beautiful sunny day, and another H bus route, not very easy at either end: we could sum this up as Tesco to Tesco.  We were starting at the Gillette corner one, in Osterley, and finishing at Bull’s Bridge.

 Linda and I met at Osterley Station, Linda having had business in Feltham, and walked along the A4 for some way to reach Gillette Corner and the head stop of the H28. The Gillette factory is still handsome, though no longer in the razor business.

We left at 12.20, and looped around to get back to the main road and cross it into Northumberland Avenue.  We passed Syon Lane Station, which seems to be on a loop line into Waterloo, and forked left down Syon Lane at the Coach and Horses Pub, looking splendid and known (apparently) as the Pride of Youngs.

The lane wiggled a little before bringing us to the West Middlesex Hospital, and then took us into residential streets, where we were the only bus.  We came to some signs for some new build apartments,  with a notice saying they were part funded by the Mayor of London.  How nice it would be, if it were only true.  I think it means that they are part funded by the Mayor of London’s OFFICE, or rather by Council Tax and Tax payers. 

Next we had to stop for a level crossing, always exciting, and then headed back over the A4, to pass the Osterley Park Hotel, which we had walked pass on our way to the bus.  This route was startling in its zig zags.   We passed the Pyrene Sports Ground.  This was originally the sports ground of the Pyrene Works, which made munitions during the second world war 

At this point, we were passed by a carriage pulled by two white horses and decked for a wedding. We agreed they had a lovely day for it.

Then we went under the Tube line, and through some fine residential areas to cross the A4, again, and go under a railway bridge.  Here the houses were somewhat smaller, and the road narrow.  As we came towards Hounslow, we spotted the White Bear Pub, clearly thriving, as well as an Ambala sweet shop.  The website is enough to make anybody drool.  So then we were into Hounslow, passing the bus garage, which has little to recommend it from a passenger’s point of view. More attractive was the promise of Fayyaz, ‘the magic of hairdressing is happening here’.

By now the bus was full, as we headed straight through more residential areas along the Hanworth Road and then right into Wellington Park Road  (had we not gone right, we should have been in Richmond!).  We saw a former-pub-Tescos, and a former-pub-Sainsbury’s on almost consecutive corners, and then passed a handsome mosque.  The banners saying ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ made us think how hard it most be not to drink in this weather, especially as we passed a pharmacy announcing that the outside temperature was 30 degrees.  Terrace houses were interspersed with more modern buildings as we came past the Hounslow Indoor Bowls Club (which regrettably does not have a website that I can find).

Crossing the A4, yet again, we wondered why The Master Robert Hotel had a restaurant called the Aintree.  The internet has no answer, so I shall just speculate that a horse won the Grand National at sufficient odds to enable a hotel to be built. Meanwhile we headed in into another residential area, with narrow roads, hardened front gardens, though one had a redeeming hydrangea, and many parked cars.  We thought Summer House Lane an attractive name, but as we took a further turn through the estate we noted that many streets had aviation links:  Brabazon and Bleriot,
to name a couple.  Some well behaved children, possibly from Northfields School, though we weren’t sure, got on to travel with us to Heston Business Centre, and then we passed two pubs:  the Queen’s Head, with Elizabeth I as their sign, and the Jolly Gardeners.  We were sorry to see a completely derelict house, though building works seemed to have started.

We crossed the M4 precisely at Heston Services, and turned left to pass both Navigator Park and the Heston Business Centre and reach the end at 13.40.  By the way, I assume that Navigator Park is named for the aeroplane navigators, so necessary in this area until modern technology took over, but I can’t find corroboration.

This was a route which had wiggled over most of the main westward routes out of London, only to leave us far from where we wanted to be, and force us to have recourse to a mode of transport never before used on the Project.  Linda will tell you about in a couple of weeks.