Friday, 3 January 2014

The W11 Route

Walthamstow Bus Station to Chingford Hall Estate
(Rowan Avenue/Silver Birch Avenue)
Sunday December 22nd 2013

Note: Well this at least makes sense as a W route, starting as it does in Walthamstow, whereas we struggled to find a W link in our previous three Enfield area routes.

No, we don’t usually travel on a Sunday, let alone one so close to Christmas, but Tim, who has provided much if not all the technical support for this blog, wanted to join the LWB for one more ride before the Project ends, and with it already being halfway through the Ws, it was now or never. So the three of us met at Wanstead Station, having had to stay alert to make sure of getting a Hainault loop train.  From the station we caught the W12, which left us in the picturesquely named Coppermill Lane in Walthamstow.  From there we walked back through the road where Walthamstow Market, supposedly the longest in Europe, usually happens. Many of the shops and nail parlours were open but we were too early for the promised music.

We have long been fond of Walthamstow Bus Station, which provides clean loos and had persevered with their classical music rather than putting on a seasonal tape. Ambulance and Police staff, and some bystanders, were clustered round a young man on a bench, who seemed rather ‘out of it’ and he eventually went off in the ambulance presumably to the nearby Whipps Cross Hospital. The bus station had winter flowering hanging baskets so was looking well cherished. But it is a hardworking station as the worn rumble strips at the exit testify.

Our progress up Hoe Street was no faster for it being a Sunday, so there was plenty of time to observe that all the estate agents seemed to be sitting tight, as was the Hoe Street Working Men’s Club. There some newer retail in the shape of Polish shops whose nostalgia extended as far as covering the window with life size photographs of beautiful scenery, as if to underline the pure origins of their products?

We went left at ‘The Bell’, marvelling that the Victorians had built such huge pubs; I suppose you have to imagine working men and women living in quite cramped accommodation with few home entertainments. There has been a recent refurbishment, but there needs to be a little more information on their website

Heading down Forest Road we were still far from being the only route and of course the main attraction down here is the also recently refurbished William Morris House which won some sort of award earlier in the year 

The bus turns down right into an area known as Higham Hill which seemed mainly to consist of public housing built in different eras, some of it known as the Priory Hall Estate the reasons for which are nicely set out here. Essentially there is post-war building to re-house more inner London folk who lost their homes. This area fills the streets between the more major roads of Forest Road and Billet Road where we emerged after taking on yet more passengers. Again the bus joined the Route 158, and we passed Roger Askham Primary School. I am not entirely clear about any local connections but Roger was a long-time scholar, who taught both Latin and Greek to Princess then Queen Elizabeth I, as well as making sure that a book on archery was readable in vernacular English. There is also a new build Walthamstow Academy along here, not to mention some well tended homes complete with resplendent pampas grass.  Further along there was a Blue Plaque, probably not an English Heritage one, commemorating the site of a former school which it is believed Benjamin Disraeli attended.

We then negotiated the Crooked Billet roundabout avoiding more intimate tangling with the North Circular road, today flowing freely but loudly. The W11 is one of the routes which serves the Sainsbury’s and sure enough more passengers left here. Progress slowed again as the bus tried to weave its way through the parked cars, pylons, and the North Circular slip road.  Tim spotted the next W11 which had caught us up – there should 15 minutes between buses but we were getting behind schedule.  We passed the very boarded-up Walthamstow Dog Track: how to redevelop has long been under discussion/dispute and this, probably our last tour, still leaves the issue of its future unresolved.   The nearby houses are from the same period and have some good decorative plasterwork which we had spotted on  earlier trips but today looked aptly Christmassy.   

By now the sole route, the W11 then wriggles along to the Chingford Hall Estate where the streets are not only named for different tree specimens, but as far as we could see planted with the eponymous varieties. We were of course the last passengers on board as the W11 made its final whirl. A shortish not altogether thrilling route which joins the Walthamstow Hub to some extensive areas of housing.

We had an opportunity to see more of the Chingford Hall ( and their football loyalties) estate as Tim’s ‘exit strategy’ involved a walk down the River Lea.  First find your river. We took a couple of turns in what we thought was the right direction but ran into high brick walls till we eventually asked a local resident who pointed us towards a very narrow exit gap in the wall flanked by two painted beasts: were this a treasure map it would say ‘Here be Dragons’ but I suspect it is a warning about the ferocity of the six-lane North Circular Road. We crossed in haste and silence, conversation being impossible, and thereafter took Folly Lane, which led us to the River Lea and hangers on which we could follow back to Tottenham Hale Station.


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  3. Nice to see you using one of my local routes. While it's not a very long route it is well used most of the time and even sees foreign visitors using it as they visit the William Morris Gallery.

  4. Thank you very much for adapting your usual routine so that I could join you one more time.

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