Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The W14 Route

Woodford Bridge (Manor Road) to Leyton Superstores  
Wednesday January 8th 2014

Our first ride of the year saw the three of us – Mary now with some more bus time on her hands – all set to travel round Woodford, greater and smaller. We were lucky, given the recent deluges that have left the ground soaked, to be travelling in dryish, warmish weather.

Our last route, the W13, had left us in the romantically named Woodford Wells (Where is the spa? Where are the healing waters?), which proved to be a desolate stretch of busy dual carriageway road with groups of secondary school pupils walking in opposite directions between what we guessed must be a split site school.  We crossed by the pedestrian subway and caught a 179 back to South Woodford where the 179 crosses with the W14. This we caught to its ‘out of town’ terminus (very nearly in the Green belt), which was the altogether more picturesque Woodford Bridge complete with village green and duck pond. When we asked the driver whether we could stay on board during his ‘rest’ (and why of course) he explained he was already two minutes behind schedule. The picturesque duck pond mainly houses (no, not another Duck House joke) ‘homes’ geese and rats, he said…  Not sure whether they form part of his passenger group but this driver at least seemed confident that the Freedom Pass would not be axed (though perhaps taxed?) as it brings in too many votes.
Enough of nature and politics and back to the bus route. This area is slightly elevated so there was a good view over the Roding valley and we soon crossed under a major route (the M11 I believe) and over the river itself. All these ‘local’ rivers, many of which flow into the Thames, are normally, if not invisible, then modest in size – the Roding like everything this month was quite swollen and energetic in its progress and volume,  but still less of a feature than the major roads.
Crossing the river brought us into a quite different area of  houses – there were at least 6 tower blocks arranged close together plus other housing .Also in Mallards Road (ducks again) there was an impressively large building, which – once we had passed its back gates – we could see was Woodbridge High School. By now the bus was really full, mainly with passengers of a certain age intent on doing their shopping.
An intricate chicane brought us under the rather terrifying junction of North Circular and M11 roads and we progressed (back) into the very sedate South Woodford. This had once been Churchill’s constituency and in many aspects remains as carefully tended as ever with only some of the newer shops – including Creative Biscuit where we had taken a coffee a few buses back – indicating that South Woodford can move with the times.
Just before South Woodford Station and  in good invisibility garb an Inspector boarded but everyone was very law-abiding on this occasion. With standing customers by now we heard the ‘Change of Destination’ announcement (those 2 minutes lost must have counted for something we thought) and hoped that the folk who continued to board were aware of the fact.

South Woodford is well cared for and this route, like the W12, leaves along the Woodford Road bordered on one side by the most magnificent houses, set back within their own greenery along ‘The Drive’. Whether they remain single occupancy was hard to tell as in most areas homes this size have morphed into prep schools or residential homes for older folk.  Woodford Green lives up to its name, though several trees had succumbed to the recent bad weather.  It also has a war memorial and an entirely appropriate statue of Churchill.  There was a bit of a scuffle in 1952, when he spoke to Conservatives here and the Communists came along and heckled. But he kept his seat.
Though we passed Snaresbrook Station we did not go as far as the better known Snaresbrook Crown Court on our approach to Wanstead, another well preserved village-like centre, with a range of independent shops including our first Eel and Pie shop of the day.

We just had time to enjoy George Green (the place not the person) at Wanstead when we came to a halt in a small side road just by the Green Man roundabout, where the very many passengers were emptied into the road. Over half of them were happy enough to take the W13 as it passed but we waited the extra couple of minutes to board the next W14.   
We were definitely puzzled by the arched buildings with   Dutch Gables just off the roundabout They looked as though they should be a an old hospital yet there were Tesco signs all round. It seems possible both are likely; Tesco have built ‘sympathetically’ to fit in with an old hospital, the spirit of which remains in the Green Man Medical centre.

By now this route, still busy, was feeling much more like an Inner London route and we enjoyed the shops along Leytonstone High Street – the Inkkeeper Tattoo shop for one, and another Eel and Pie shop.  On we trundled through what would once have been seen as the old East End making good for themselves and getting property and shops further out of town. Even better was the Grazia Bridal wear shop, as seen on Gypsy Weddings. However neither shop appears to have a website to match the shop front claims..

Jo thought she spotted some ‘New Year Resolution’ runners – the sort that haven’t quite got all the gear yet, and frankly who were lucky to find a ‘dry window’ this week. The bus slowed to allow a wheelchair user and carer to board which gave us time to notice that we were running pretty parallel to major roads and railways.
Once inside the ‘magic circle’ of the North Circular the property looks much older – ornate plasterwork abounded, very often picked out in bright colours but standing up well to the many coats of paint. I was a bit puzzled by the ‘Lord Northcote’ pub as he did not seem to have any very local links. Even more puzzling was the nearby Shepherds Pub which depicted three ? shepherds or possibly musicians named in Lithuanian.
Yet another encounter with a major road and this route twirls its way into a large area of retail: not just ASDA but a range of other outlets, where it comes to a halt – the only route to do so. While twirling, so to speak, we had glimpsed the Olympic Velodrome and remembered we had used Leyton once during the Olympics. We guessed some of the road and retail additions dated from the pre-Olympic building surge to improve the area.
A route of 2 halves and not just because we had to change buses; the W14 will take you from Essex village through post war suburbia, some dense social housing into rejuvenated Inner London.


  1. Ladies - I'm sorry but as per the W13 you have done it again with this comment: "the W14 will take you from Essex village through post war suburbia". NO, at no point does the W14 enter into Essex, the furthest point out it's it's terminus at Woodford Bridge which is totally in Northeast London namely the London Borough of Redbridge.

    1. I can confirm that Woodford Bridge is in Essex as I’m a local resident. But it is on the borders of Essex.

  2. Apologies and thanks to Fred for pointing out our errors. We both looked on our NE London bus maps and seemed so close to the edge that it felt like we had 'left London' but obviously not quite... In my defence I live in an inner London borough where chunks have a postal address of Bromley, Kent and feel far more urban and gritty than Woodford Bridge.
    Still we welcome corrections from local knowledge.

    1. Whoever is describing their postal address as Bromley, Kent is I'm afraid wrong. Bromley has not been part of Kent since 1965. It is a London Boroughand therefore is part of London. The post town is Bromley and therefore the correct addressing is:

      XX Somewhere Road
      BR1 XXX

      Parts of BR 6 & 8 are in Kent but they are not Bromley they are part Sevenoaks and Dartford.

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