Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The U1 Route

Ruislip Station to West Drayton Station
Thursday June 13th 2013

(Linda alone whilst others on holiday…)
Due to a faulty bus my previous route, the H13, had abandoned me and others up at Ruislip Lido; still, though hardly ‘flaming June’, it was pleasant enough to walk down from the reservoir, and along the High Street, which in Ruislip usually feels welcoming and well used. By the time you read this the station forecourt works will probably be finished but when I travelled most routes were starting at different points along the High Street, and that is indeed where I plus several others boarded this U1.   Interestingly (for us bus geeks at least) the E, H and U routes all cross over at Ruislip. 
We headed south to the Ickenham Road by doubling back along Church Avenue, where I did not really spot a church – a Beefeater Grill, the White Bear and one of the Mormon churches of the Latter Day Saints, but UK roads are not usually named for them.  More interestingly many of the homes and fences sported posters saying ‘No to HS2’. When I tried to follow up these links my web searches landed me on two different ‘Whoops’ pages leading me to wonder whether the anti-campaigns have been hacked as the only one still active refers largely to the Chilterns where indeed HS2 might go underground. Quite why we need a new train line, which will only save 20 minutes and seems set to deliver yet more people into London rather than encouraging business in the Midlands I don’t know.  Anyway as this is quite a desirable part of outer London I can quite see why people around here would dislike the idea of building and living with an extra railway line.

Ickenham still has the heart of an old village complete with village pump (it’s an official bus stop) though I was the wrong side to photograph it and by now wedged in on a busy bus, largely full of students. The inter-war housing is well set back from the road and today we passed council workmen busy strimming the verges, so the bus smelt gently of cut grass (the green variety), which is a lot more pleasant than some summer smells when passengers over heat or even over eat.

Once over the Swakeleys roundabout and watching the A 40 speeding below the U1 also picks up speed heading towards Uxbridge – I fleetingly glimpsed a sign for the Dogs Trust, where they re-home abandoned canines. I suppose they maybe exercise them on Uxbridge Common, which we were crossing. The students who were as noted the majority passenger group all got off along here, which I thought might be Brunel University but in fact is more likely Uxbridge Technical College. 

The U1 must of course call in at Uxbridge – of all the eight U routes this is the only one which does not start or finish at Uxbridge but merely ‘passes through’ as indeed we did using the tight roundabout to access the correct bus station stop. Most of the rest of the passengers left at this point, but we gained some new ones keen to get to Hillingdon Hospital.  All buses through Uxbridge have to follow quite a complicated one way system as parts of the High Street are totally car–free and the vehicles are sent round the back, which allows you to see the various companies which have their HQs here and are doubtless boosting the local economy. Hillingdon seems very proud of their Civic Centre and the building appears to be standing up well even after nearly 40 years of use. Let us hope the council are not as strapped for cash as Lewisham where its 60s Town Hall in Catford has been emptied of staff with a view to selling it off. But back to West London and our route out of Uxbridge, by now very familiar, took us first past the tall spire of St Andrew’s Church then back past the now defunct and being ‘developed’ Uxbridge Airfield and the little hut that is the Battle of Britain Club. Again we crossed the River Pinn.

Just before Hillingdon Hill the U1 takes a turn left down the narrow but rather scenic Kingston Lane and this was to offer me my first glimpse of Brunel University. What I saw looked modern and clean but already deserted (has university term finished?) and was probably the reception end of the campus. We shall be returning. Further down Kingston Lane are the university’s extensive sports fields and how lucky they are to have them so close by.

No sooner have you passed the academic campus than the bus empties for Hillingdon Hospital whose buildings, by contrast have seen better days. Most visible from the bus was a large sign proclaiming Hillingdon to be a ‘NO SMOKING ZONE’. I wondered how far this extended as most hospitals I have been to have a steady clutch of patients, often still attached to their drips and bags, smoking outside the ward areas. The Child Development Centre did look more inviting and purpose built.

After the hospital the bus leaves the busier roads to head into a large area of social housing named for pink and purple flowers – thus Violet Avenue, Lavender, Heather and Campion ditto. Many of the properties must have been sold off as there were several ‘For Sale’ boards dotted around.

This route then rejoins the West Drayton Road in what I learnt was Yiewsley where I was promised a new Morrisons – yes – Yiewsley Library – yes – and the Grand Union canal, more difficult to spot but historically very key to what is now a quiet corner of West London.

At one point there was a sign saying  John Ralph Crossing , which proves to have an interesting story behind it. So local boy makes good both in his chosen career as an engineer and a successful competitive cyclist but experiences ostracism in both areas due to his Communist Party affiliations and loyalty. In spite of this he has been remembered in a road naming.

The High Street which (where it narrowed) was over the canal eventually brought us to West Drayton Station, a somewhat forgotten stop on the London to Reading or Oxford route and as good a place as any to finish a journey which had brought us a good distance south from our starting point in just on 40 minutes.

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