East Acton (Brunel Road) to Oxford Circus
Thursday November 1 2018
Here we were reversing the direction and therefore the order of buses we took in early 2009 close to the start of the Project. This means we had already travelled from South Kensington to Roehampton where we had a short but extremely wet walk to access the 72 for onward transit to East Acton. Fortunately there was no problem in finding the start of the 72 in Roehampton as we were kindly guided to it by a former resident of the large estate back to visit his mum. He seemed intrigued by our Project so we said we would mention his gallantry under fire (well rain) otherwise he won’t get mentioned for few months yet. So much for the preamble.
The 72 & 7 share a terminus and stop and we did not have long to wait … That’s a nice clean bus, said Jo (the cleanliness of the windows affects the quality of our photos) so we climbed upstairs only to find it smelled strongly of wee… Some mouth breathing followed by an open window helped a little but distracted us from the early stages of the route of which we had seen very little given the mistiness aboard the single decker 72 that doubles up this early stretch.
Once over the crossroads we passed both Erconwald (whom we had encountered two weeks ago in Barking on the 5), and Wulfstan and here they form part of one of the LCC’s (London County Council) cottage estates. Both were early Bishops of London.
Then on further to pass the series of buildings that belong to Hammersmith Hospital – Queen Charlotte’s has a nearly 200 year history offering maternity services though only here on Du cane Road since 2000. The hospitals come under the auspices of the Imperial NHS Trust. We have always presumed that Nightingale House on the corner was some kind of nurses’ home, but it seems to have gained a modern Ziggurat style building over its shoulder.
It must be handy for Wormwood Scrubs to have a hospital nearby, we thought, then on past North Pole Road – did I hear right? said Jo: yes. I suggested the smell of pee was dissipating but Jo thought we were just getting used to it...
Onwards to our next hospital, though no longer a full one – St Charles. There is a good history here,
but we were both quite relieved that it is now more of a mental health resource on a hopefully smaller and cleaner scale than the ward we had visited in the late Nineties. If it’s St Charles it must be Notting Hill and sure enough the other Saints come thick and fast: St Michael and St Laurence follow on before we arrived at Ladbroke Grove. The facilities under Westway have always been interesting though there seemed to be fewer fruit and veg than we remembered – and the Kensington Park Hotel, though brightly painted, looked shuttered., and has certainly closed since we were last round this way – another local pub bites the dust, and this one had some musical history
Perhaps this is why as you turn the corner the two stories over Nu-line builders have musical heroes in their windows – someone has given them a home after being evicted from elsewhere? Nu-line look to be an excellent local resource for paints, ironmongery etc. though not so new as they have been here since 1965.
I suspect some of their paints may have been used for the row of ‘ice-cream sorbet’ houses that we passed and which are typical of the now very expensive Notting Hill.
Having started at Brunel Road it was only fitting we should pass the famous engineer’s estate – once Westminster’s it now seems mainly privately owned? Continuing along Westbourne Grove with its range of small shops, galleries and eating places we passed the Prince Bonaparte so we could remember he was exiled, or expeditiously chose to move here during one of France’s several revolutions.
If we could see Bishops Bridge and Westway before us Paddington Station could not be far behind. There is still a fair amount of Crossrail/Elizabeth Line building disruption here so it is hard to believe anyone thought it could have been ready last month. Progress along Praed Street in front of Paddington and then St Mary’s Hospital is always slow and today was no exception. You can see the ‘dusty’ window of Sir Alexander Fleming’s lab from the top deck – a museum visit which is worthwhile.
The traffic was no faster when we joined the Edgware Road and much slower than it had been last week – no matter, we could see other things. The pub sign for the Old English Gentleman remains though it now adorns a Lebanese restaurant. Also ‘As Nature Intended’ is not quite what you might expect (something for the English Gentlemen perhaps) but in fact a rather pricy looking health food shop.
Travelling this way the bus does not have to go right round Marble Arch (only the cavalry and royalty can go through) – on the contrary you get a rather good close up of the somewhat misplaced ornate entrance originally designed for Buckingham Palace. Talking of good views from the top deck, we realised we had been riding alone upstairs for the entire trip – either there were very few passengers or the smell had percolated downstairs; then it struck us: suppose other passengers thought it was us – two incontinent old ladies on the top deck. We promise you we are very clean , or as clean as you can be after crossing London twice.
In spite of the road works we progressed well down this stretch of Oxford Street to stop just short of Oxford Circus in just under an hour, not bad given the 55 minute estimate for a run that really wriggles its way west through some of the most interesting and colourful bits of West London. Have a go but take an unsmelly vehicle!
Random mahonia I forgot to mention