Thursday, 28 November 2013

The U4 Route

Wednesday 27 November 2013

The U4 is a double decker route, our first for ages.  Sad, then, that it was a murky, grey day, so that views were limited in the extreme.  But Linda and I did enjoy the trip to Uxbridge Station.

We started at Prologis Park, Hayes,  a strange and slightly alarming building. It is accessed through one of those gates which lifts when an acceptable vehicle approaches.  The building has no identifying marks on it, though it does have some dire warnings about trespassing and guard dogs.  Our charming bus driver told us that even the security guards are not allowed inside the building. Lack of chimneys convinced us that the secret was not vivisection;  we could not see the roof, but there appeared to be no aerials or satellite dishes.  Only when we returned home was I able to discover that it had once been a Ministry of Defence Archive, though plans for its transformation don't seem to have got far since 2004.

Anyway, we set off at 10.35, out of the clever gates and into residential streets, where Linda was able to admire the pampas grass.  We soon came to a small parade of shops and the Music Box pub, and turned right, to run alongside Pinkwell Park, as well as a plethora of schools, Youth Centres and other educational facilities.  The streets were narrow, and there were many parked cars, as well as two coaches manoeuvring.  We thought they must be for a trip, at 10.45 seems rather late for pupils arriving to start the day.
Our route took us on towards Hayes itself, with the handsome HMV building dominating the view.  It used to press vinyl, but I think that the only remains of the industry around here is the EMI archive.

We came along Station Road to the Great Western Pub, and noted that the pedestrian crossing at the main road was called the Ashvin Auchambit Crossing.  While we very much approve of Hillingdon's personalising of crossings, we should love to find a website which told us who these people are, and why they are so celebrated.  As good as a blue plaque, we thought!

At this stage, the bus was apparently busy downstairs, but we were still the only passengers upstairs.  We are at a loss to understand why this route is a double decker; I suppose it may date from the days when many MOD archivists, their cloaks firmly wrapped around them, and their daggers hidden, used the route.  

We came up to Hayes and Harlington Station, and wondered at the large derelict sites either side of the railway bridge.  As we crossed the Grand Unioin Canal, we remembered that, when we first came this way, the large block of flats which overlooks it was barely under construction.  The distant views of the Nestle complex were, however, unchanged.

Now we turned left, to pass the Hayes Muslim Centre. Their website appears to be down, or I should be able to tell you more about them,

Botwell Common appeared to have lots of mounds of earth and machinery on it, and Linda and I wondered if the council was planning improvements, like more swings and skateboarding.  But it turns out that we were passing the perimeter of a major local planning dispute which has roused a great deal of local anger.

We came past Hayes Amateur Boxing Club and the reached St Jerome's Church.  He is not a very common saint for parish churches, as he preferred life as a hermit after a rather riotous time as a student in the 4th century;  but then he did improve the latin bible and help a lion which had a thorn in its paw.

We had one more burst of rural life, with a couple of horses in a field, as well as some allotments, before coming to Hillingdon Hospital, where there was a lengthy queue of traffic waiting to enter the grounds.  Happily the U4 doesn't do that, and we were able to move on towards the university.

We are getting to know Brunel University quite well.  The Picture this time shows the Mary Seacole building, which is - quite rightly, we should say - listed.

The we came past the cemetery and the mortuary, onto the Hillingdon road, knowing we were getting close to the end of our trip.
Coming into Uxbridge, we passed what appeared to be some  almshouses - or possibly an ex-school - with modern wings attached; but even from the upper deck we could find no notice board or name.  

We did , however, note that Uxbridge is about to have a pop-up ice rink.  I just hope the weather is the right combination of sun and chill for skating to be a pleasure.  Then we were passing the huge frontage of Randalls, to tour the road around the centre and pass the War Memorial.  The figure is a winged angel holding a laurel wreath.  It has a verse on the plinth which we could not read, though you can see it here.

It was 11.15 when we reached Uxbridge Station.  We had not realised that 'this bus terminates here' was actually Belmont Street, and were nearly swept into the garage, but the driver kindly let us out for the short wait until our next bus arrived.


  1. I think the mysterious Prologis enclave is what was built on the bit of the old Records Office site at Hayes that was sold off 15-ish years ago. I believe it started life as a WW1 aircraft factory, then was used by the government for storage of all sorts: largely documents (the main users were what was then still the Public Record Office and the Ministry of Defence) but also things like flagpoles for use in the Mall during state visits, and the Imperial War Museum's film stores (including some facilities originally used by the Central Office of Information). Attractions included frolicing rabbits and watching Heathrow Express being built, but all good things come to an end, and the real estate value of such a prime chunk of land so close to Heathrow and the M4 was obviously just too great for the bean counters in Whitehall to resist selling (most of) it off. However, some relic of MOD storage must still linger there, because if you express an interest in tracing your family's military history, any number of genealogy websites still refer you to an Army records address in Bourne Avenue Hayes.
    The Music Box used to be a great place for lunch (lasagne and chips?!) but I gather it is now closed.

  2. I had no idea there were so many lettered routes until I read this blog! Are U the last ones?