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. 

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