Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The R1 Route

Wednesday 11 September 2013

I had spent some time wondering why the next few routes should be 'R' routes.  It was my clever sister-in-law who pointed out that you could not have bus numbers prefixed with an 'O' because people might think it was a '0':  so these are the routes around Rpington.

Thus it was that the said clever relative and I found ourselves in Green Street Green, looking for an R1 to take us to St Paul's Cray.  We optimistically headed towards the Royal Oak pub, following signs that said it participated in the 'community toilet scheme' but at 11.30 the pub was not open and thus it was a hollow promise.  Still, undeterred, we reached the bus stop in the high street at the same moment as our bus, and were on board the single doored, single decker by 11.40.

We rolled out of the village past another large pub, which we thought was called Ember, though it seems also to be the Queen's Head.  Almost immediately we turned right and headed uphill, past many bungalows, and into residential streets of varying size and classiness.  We were the only bus around here as we wriggled up and then down, to reach Chelsfield, with its railway station and pub (though not much else, we thought).

Chelsfield turns into Orpington without much of a break and we soon reached the War Memorial, which has the words 'Pro Patria' on each of its faces, above the lists of names.

Then we came to Orpington Station.  The exterior is fairly unprepossessing, considering what a railway hub it is. but it has a handsome bus station behind it, which we visited briefly.  We shall be back, as several of the R buses start and/or finish here.

We thought Bromley's hanging baskets were looking splendid.  It has been a very good summer for petunias and geraniums, and the rain in the last couple of days has meant that they were not looking at all dry.  We passed the Walnut Shopping Centre, and also the White Hart pub, whose doodled inn sign we have commented on before.  As we left Orpington, we passed a huge building site which claimed to be about to become 50 retirement apartments to be built by Churchill.  But it seems that the signage is out of date as they will not now be built.

We headed on, to note Priory Gardens on our right, where the River Cray rises, before joining the Darent and, eventually, the Thames.

The outskirts of Orpington are occupied by a business park, with Allied Bakeries, Sun Chemicals and other concerns, and opposite is a retail area, with all sorts of lovely shops.  I particularly noticed Cotswold, because members of the Ramblers get a substantial discount in Cotswold shops - yet another reason to join the organisation which protects our footpaths.

Soon we were back into residential roads: clearly this estate had been named by an exile from South West Hertfordshire, as we passed Croxley Green, Chipperfield Road, Chorleywood Crescent and others streets named for my former home area.  This was all 'hail and ride' so we trundled rapidly up the hill and down again, to reach Midfield Way and School.

We came past St Mary Cray Station, and headed on into St Paul's Cray, admiring the modern church, and noting the high rise public housing, comparatively unusual for the Borough of Bromley.

We reached the small parade of shops where is route ends at 12.20, after an exact half hour.

This had been a modest journey, through mostly residential areas, and although it was a grey day, we had had no rain, so we had been about to enjoy the gardens.


  1. The 'R' comes from Roundabout, the trading name of Orpington Buses Ltd, a stand alone operation started by London Buses in 1986 as a complete local network. The routes were operated by grey and maroon minibuses which each had their own name. a 10% increase in passengers resulted against the previous double deck, lower frequency services. Over time the Roundabout name, the livery and the minibuses have been replaced by normal buses so the network is less identifiable as being separate.