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 façade 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. 


  1. This is my daily bus to and from work - it's a great route in that you rarely have to wait more than about five minutes for one.

    Unfortunately, the Duke of Northumberland does indeed still own lots of land - one of those ridiculous feudal hangovers. You'd think absentee landlordism on that scale would've long since gone in this day and age...

  2. Sorry, I meant "absentee landowning", though he probably does a bit of absentee landlordism'n'all!

    Also, someone once said to me that the reason why there is such a Catholic presence in Isleworth (and Twickenham and Strawberry Hill) is that in the 18th Century, Catholics weren't allowed to practise their faith within a certain distance (10 miles?) of London. Whether it's true or not, it sounds plausible.

    And one last thing, the H37 passes the Glossop Memorial at Isleworth, opposite which is the fabulous South Street Ice Cream Parlour, where you can get fantastic flavours - they did a gooseberry one the other day. ;-)

    1. Thank you for the additional local information, which we can not really pick up on a through journey.
      I love the idea of gooseberry ice-cream, but first catch your gooseberries...