Wednesday 12 February 2014

The X68 Route

Monday 10 February 2014

At 15.50, Linda Mary and I stepped onto our last bus.  The brief wait (we are always early) was enlivened by meeting a number of followers, who announced their intention to travel with us.  We already knew the 63 Regular; and Stephen, who used to work at London Councils.  He is now walking in each London post code and his accounts of his exploration are very interesting. Then there were Geoff Marshall, from the Londonist website and Lucy from Alphabet Britain.  We also enjoyed the company of James from Lejogbuscountry.  And Paul, Bruce and Peter  ( I hope I have not left anyone out, but it was all very dizzy making)

The X68 runs from Southampton Row to West Croydon, only in the morning and in the afternoon and X of course stands for 'Express'.

There were quite a few other passengers, though not, of course, at the front of the upper deck.  According to Bruce, the bus runs every 15 minutes, so it clearly has a serious use.

We set off down towards the Aldwych, passing the hoardings which hide the relentless progress of Crossrail, as it heads from Tottenham court Road to Farringdon. The weather was less than wonderful, and of course we were all chatting and therefore steaming up the windows.

Once we reached Aldwych, we were able to notice that the former Broadcasting House is being done up: for offices, we supposed, gloomily.

Then we came down into the Strand, and past all those faces outside King's College, before heading across Waterloo Bridge, where we were rewarded with a rainbow over Canary Wharf, and so remarkable cloud formations.

The National Theatre will soon be losing The Shed when the Cottesloe reopens as The Dorfman.  Is £10 million enough to fund the theatre for long?  Does the name change again when the money runs out?  I'm not sure how this works.

 Waterloo Station was our first stop, and then we headed down towards Lambeth North, to turn right into Baylis Street, to pass the Imperial War Museum, which is of course closed to visitors at the moment.  We had passed the first of the four Evangelist Churches (St John) at Waterloo.  Remarkably, this route passes all four, culminating in St Luke's at Norwood.

We headed south through the terraces and offices of the Kennington Road, to reach Brixton's busy High Street.  By now the sun was shining, and the sky was blue.  We admired Windrush Square, and the lovely Ritzy Cinema, but this bus does not pause very much.

A huge supermarket has replaced what we think used to be a CarpetRight since the last time the Porject came along here, some months ago.  The nostalgia feeling was enhanced by seeing and overtaking a 1, a 2, and a 3 bus.

Earlier, we had had a brief conversation about the Necropolis railway, which we have admired when travelling on routes that use Westminster Bridge,  so we were pleased to pass one of the overspill cemeteries which it used to serve.  Lucy suggested that it might be our next project to visit all the cemeteries rather than just sweeping by them.  I feel that would need to be a summer project though of course many good walks make use of graveyards for a bit of green.

 The Tulse Hill estate is now surrounded by private residential accommodation, and so there are many schools around here, though Dick Sheppard School is no more.  There is a link to his career, however, in the name of St Martin in the Fields School for Girls nearby.

As we passed Tulse Hill Station, we were interested to note Afghan Stores, though we think it is more a general convenience store than one specialising in Afghan goodies.  We were briefly on diversion round St Luke's Church, and had clear views of the West Norwood transmitter before heading steeply downhill, with fine views towards Surrey, or at any rate Croydon.

From now on the bus behaves in a more normal fashion (or loses its Xclusivity, as Geoff wittily remarked) since it has gone beyond where the ordinary 68 terminates.  Actually, the 68 was the third bus of the project, because it returns one to Euston from where the Number 2 stops.

Crystal Palace Football Club, whose ground we passed, is due to play Everton tonight, so I hope they do OK.  

The next amazing sight we passed was the new build at Whitehorse Manor School, which was clearly rather controversial.  In my capacity as teacher in the party, I pointed out that 'lovely old victorian schools' had inadequate facilities, not to mention poor connectivity, and steps and other hazards around the place.

We also came past the Croydon Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia HQ, and Ye Olde Clocktower Pub.  This advertises 'Dart Board available here, come in and play' which must make it rather similar to other pubs.

The palatial Baptist Church was looking a tiny bit down at heel, whereas we were amazed and delighted to see that 'that' building in the middle of the road as you come into Croydon, which has been stalled since the project began, is now making some progress.  We may see it grow as we do the trams.

So we arrived at West Croydon Bus Station.  When one of our friends suggested it was the worst in London, the LWB in chorus suggested he should try horrible Mill Hill.  

The journey had taken 70 minutes, as the timetable suggests, and had taken us from central to extreme south London in a very pleasant way.  Once we got out, a number of school students wondered if we were famous (because of Geoff's video camera).  We were able to say with hands on hearts, no, but pretty persistent.

In response to several comments, we need to say that the Rules Committee, aka Linda and me, is firmly against the Night buses:  like 600-numbered school buses, they are not for us. But the trams, and possibly even the RBs are certainly on the schedule.


  1. And I so meant to join you, and totally forgot - and my reminder was only 10 minutes beforehand, which was a fat lot of good when I needed at least an hour to get there! Grrrrr.... was most upset! Did think of you all, though, and wondered whether it was worth dashing into Brixton to wave....

  2. Congratulations on completing your epic quest.

  3. Well done ladies! I've not followed your every move but have dipped in from time to time. Well done for being persistent and consistent and achieving your goal!

  4. You can get proper bus maps here, which is better than the previous version, but is not ready for production use yet

    You'll need a reasonably new computer for the site to be usable.

  5. Well done, the Ladies Who Bus. Fascinating reading for people like me, ex-Londoners who still miss The Smoke. One small point: the old BBC building in the Aldwych is Bush House (or BVSH HOUSE, as the lettering outside used to say). -- Charles

  6. Congratulations on a fine achievement, I only found the blog in the last couple of months so a lot of catching up!

  7. Congratulations on finishing the project, what a ride it's been!

  8. Congratulations and I'm doing the Same over in Greater Manchester Soon. There going be logged at my new travel blog

  9. I have been away a few days and only just caught up with your "last bus" post. I was so pleased to be able to join you on the X68. As usual the post was of a high standard - all the more impressive given the general hubbub on the bus from your fellow travellers (or Saga Louts as a man said as he got off). Thanks for your link to my blog (London Post Code Walks) which was inspired by yours. Look forward to your new project once you have done the trams and riverbus!