Friday, 20 December 2013

The W9 Route

Southgate Station to Chase Farm Hospital
Thursday December 12th 2013

Jo had  cleverly knitted* together a very complex  travel sequence  linking some of the unridden W routes. Our first bus of the day had left us within earshot of the North Circular at its busiest. We managed to cross via a subway and also avoid the Cambridge Roundabout to look for the W6 somewhere along Hedge Lane. The absence of stops but a bus disappearing into the distance led us to deduce that this was a Hail and Ride Section so we sidled up to some likely looking gents, who had the same idea in mind, and very soon all five of us were all squashed up in a very busy W6, a route we recognised once we were aboard.

We rode it to the ever modern-looking Southgate Station and located the stop for the W9, the next bus ‘de jour’. It’s very easy to go in circles round here, but all was well and the countdown gave us 8 minutes in which to swap cameras and have some peppermints before climbing onto a single decker at 11.40 so the clock in the photo is right!

The first landmark we passed, after the Southgate town centre hub has petered out, was the Inverforth gates entrance to Grovelands Park, not highly visible on a slightly misty day. I am not quite clear why a Scottish shipyard owner, later a Minister for Munitions (Mr Big Guns in other words), has a gate named for him – perhaps swords into ploughshares or similar? Apparently the park houses one of The Priory resources which treat all kinds of addictions.

The W9, which is of course a back streets bus, takes a little circular loop round Fox Lane to reappear further down Bourne Hill – the junction is apparently the site of a former cattle pound. Fox Lane was largely Hail and Ride with few takers as is almost always the case in the more affluent neighbourhoods; it may be different at rush hour times.

We also passed the rather un-cherished looking Palmers Green High School which proves to be a private educational establishment catering for girls 4-16 so maybe times are not too good??

Climbing again we were on or approaching Winchmore Hill which appears to be one of the more inaccessible London ‘villages’ complete with a village green and independent coffee shops – not a chain to be seen. Victoriana or Mistress Appleby's shop promised Antique wedding and engagement rings rather than anything racier, as befits this corner of Enfield, seemingly preserved in another age.

The bus continues and after some twists and turns we took a detour that we originally thought was to serve a new looking Sainsbury’s – however what it was really accessing was the Highlands Estate, which had been developed from the former  buildings of the Highlands Hospital where patients were treated between 1887 to 1998, originally those who needed isolation because of ‘fevers’ – scarlet, diptheria and those other illnesses which penicillin and antibiotics have made history of, then later TB. Jo and I were pretty impressed with the conversion – clean London brickwork, small Queen Anne style blocks interspersed with lots of trees, a nursery and a residential home so my guess is that the developers more than recouped their £20 million pound investment. A few blocks still remain unconverted or shut up but by and large it looked much better than the hospital which was our final destination. We could not decide whether the blocks were named for prominent persons (Rutherford – physicist or Mary Seacole – nurse), former ward or doctor names or bits of Scotland – Pringle and Ballantyne .
We retraced our ride and headed further into the area between Winchmore Hill and the next station on the railway line (the Underground feels a long way away), Grange Park, built on some land bought from the Grovelands Estate – as in the park we passed right  at the start. We could see little except some generic greenery but Bush Hill Park houses a golf course and park, and the New River runs through it.

If it’s the New River it must be Enfield, where it is always at its most visible, and sure enough we were slipping quietly into Enfield past Enfield Chase station and along Church Street. The New River celebrated its 400th birthday this year making the Underground at 150 years look like an upstart, and there is further exploration of it here.

We lost most of the passengers to the delights of Enfield Shopping and saw the market was still thriving. Another run slightly uphill took us through one of the first areas of social housing on this trip, and thus to the final destination of Chase Farm Hospital – as Jo said it was looking pretty tired with bits of plastic over broken windows in the stair wells, though the outpatients department was still clearly active, and we spotted a ‘Pre-Admission Assessment Unit’. The finishing point of the buses is at a different place from the starting point so we crossed the campus-like hospital site for one of the easier change-overs of the W series, this one crossing the outer edges of Enfield borough.

*PS You should see her real knitting..


  1. I love the clapperboard cottages. Are these old or new?

  2. As we only sweep past on a smeary windowed bus, hard to tell, but as they are just up the hill from 'Mistress Appleby' round the historic Green I would think possible. On the other hand if I blow up the photo it all looks in rather good condition?
    I was hoping a local might enlighten us?