Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The U5 Route

Uxbridge Station to Hayes & Harlington Station
Thursday November 27th 2013
Because we had ‘over-ridden’ the previous Route, the U4, practically into the garage, by the time we had crossed by the bus station roundabout we saw a U5 heading off into the sunset (well you know what I mean) so we had time to linger and observe. Uxbridge has an information counter resplendent with various bus maps and as Jo wanted some up-to-date ones  (Linda had found hers in Greenwich) we pounced – only to be told rather sadly that Uxbridge’s new maps were ‘on order’ but had not yet arrived and were re-directed to Harrow or Edgware (been there done that) unless we were willing to settle for old-issue maps…

By this time the next U5 had arrived, and we boarded along with only 2 other passengers – few for what has generally been a series of well-used local buses. We followed the usual sequence of several roundabouts and the back of the shopping centre to leave Uxbridge central heading in the direction of Cowley. Along with the Glades in Bromley and the Harlequin in Watford Uxbridge’s The Pavilions has become part of the INTU group  Not being very business minded I am not sure whether that is a good thing or not but I am sure the older names will stick longer.

Back to the Cowley Road, the U5 being the only route to take this direction passing alongside the seemingly canalised Fray’s River – Mr Fray appears to have diverted some of the River Colne whilst resident at Cowley Hall in the 15th century and unlike many of central London’s rivers it is still in the open and going strong. This week we spotted a gold pillar box for Natasha Baker, a paralympic Equestrian, and how much better is the Royal Mail website than the Blue Plaque one! 

After crossing the River Pinn the U5 passes Brunel University to the south and then of course, a little further on, Hillingdon Hospital; compared to the other routes the U5 seemed less popular here at a favourite boarding point. Also in contrast to the last few weeks we did not dive into the ‘purple’ estates but carried on down Culham Green Lane to take a more direct approach to Yiewsley. The Chantry School is signposted but not on the main road, lurking a little perhaps because for a recent spate of negative publicity.

Stockley Academy on the other hand seems to fare a little better. The U5 passes the same landmarks as its predecessor; that is, along the High Street, over the canal and a hop into West Drayton Station.  Jo found it difficult to credit that eventually  Crossrail would be calling in here but sure enough it’s due a face-lift and 2 trains an hour -

The eventual arrival of Crossrail might account for the amount of building work going on once we headed along Porters Way.  There is a long-established estate served mainly by this route with a few shops and the Townmead Football Club, but then one bus stop further along from the Stockley Estate the site hoardings announce (Under Construction)' Drayton Village' located on the now demolished site of what used to be West Drayton Air Force Base.  West Drayton saw little flying as it was mainly about air traffic control both for military planes and commercial flights at Heathrow. Air Traffic then transferred to Swanwick, where perhaps the air is a little clearer (though I suppose the controllers watch screens not real planes).

From there it was only a short hop, slithering under the motorway access and over the canal again, to the Stockley Park Business Area which has the HQs of several very high-end, high-tech companies in a pleasantly landscaped area rich in water features. Today’s single-decker route did not offer great photo opportunities, whereas the A10 did. Discreetly, in amongst the buildings and glass, were a gym and pub and not a few bus shelters but never any people!!

Exiting Stockley Park under its special barriers the roads seemed very narrow and lane like, especially as there were cars parked on one side – Jo’s guess was that these belonged to Stockley Park workers who did not have parking permits.

By now we were approaching Botwell Common, which is the more attractive approach to Hayes, and includes passing Lake Farm Country Park, which has a more industrial history than its name might suggest = tank testing anyone ?

There was also a glimpse of Barra Hall, a former Town Hall and now a park and where ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ (makes sense) and ‘Chocolat’ (more obscure as set in France) were filmed. In Hayes itself most of the rest of the passengers chose to get off.

The shared station – Hayes and Harlington – lies just over the canal bridge and there we were: back where we had started our morning expedition with 2 more bus routes under our belts (and this one just about taking 45 minutes). 

A mixture of West London former villages scattered between waterways, canals and important railway lines, not that far from Heathrow and well used by Uxbridge’s folk.

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