Monday, 12 November 2018

The NUMBER 8 Route

Bow Church to Tottenham Court Road (St. Giles)
Thursday November 8 2018

We had arrived in Bow via the rather testing 205 all the way from Paddington in what felt like half a day’s travelling – we had failed to obtain our front seats and the bus had been busy and noisy – you will hear about it in due course. To be fair it had speeded up a bit through the East End. 

There was an Inspector/time keeper who came to greet our 205 driver so we thought we would ask him where to pick up the Number 8. He pointed straight ahead in spite of our protestations that London was behind us and we were not heading out of town. To be sure we saw one lurking and then pull away so the bus apps gave us a waiting time of 12 minutes. Fortunately for the time of year it was mild. Bow Church bus stop is just to the side of St. Mary’s Church. Last time of course we arrived here from Victoria!

I don’t pretend to understand the Bow Roundabout or Interchange, which seems to be a way of joining  the As 11 and 12, with perhaps  a couple of other local routes thrown in for good measure but people seem rather low on its list of users. You can see the Olympic (now West Ham) stadium seemingly not that far away but it would be a brave pedestrian or cyclist who would try to access it.

Happily the bus turns off the dual carriageway quite soon and finds itself trundling through much more human scale roads and housing – there are few towering blocks and this friendly scale of Bow made it feel very welcoming. There is no shortage of housing – low level flats, small houses old and new – and a new educational facility which appears to offer both vocational and academic sixth form courses. This route takes in the delights of Roman Road. I was a bit surprised to spot a somewhat over large and over pink Macaroon but clearly ‘La table de saveurs’ is aiming to bring French patisserie to this bit of London.  Roman Road offers some intimacy and must give a good local service to many people as th
is website illustrates.

But all good things come to an end and soon we were heading straight along the Bethnal Green Road which is of course wider and busier
Since we last passed this way (and this includes our underwhelming visit to the nearby Museum of Childhood )  the memorial has been  erected  to the many people crushed here during  one night’s false alarm during the war. Now called the Stairway to Heaven appropriately for the  overcrowded stairwell led to the multiple  casualties. This link elaborates both the story and the symbolism of the monument.  Though we were bowling along quite fast there was time to spot the range of shops from pawnbrokers to a tiny pub which somehow must have survived the war, and later demolitions, though whether it is still functioning is not clear. Definitely thriving is Brick Lane which is a turning shortly before we reach more recognizable  ground.

For us folks who use the Overground, Shoreditch High Street is a familiar station and the nearby BOX PARK always pulls in a crowd – I sometimes think the names are better than the products? Talking of names Jo spotted a group of ?Chinese tourists being given a  talk outside the  'Bull In A China Shop'
The expression has a very particular meaning – some-one blundering in a fragile environment either physically or metaphorically – but possibly the tourists saw this differently?

Broadgate, which I often think of as a fairly new addition to this part of London, seemed to be undergoing some kind of refit with hoardings covering the arched facades. The link The account here is very detailed but it seems the refurbishment has been prompted, how could I not have guessed, by the Elizabeth Line. It also means some disruption to the bus station – there’s a surprise. Still the Number 8 in this direction pushes on straight as the roads narrow through the City – of course the area around Bank is now buses and bikes only which seems very sensible.

More hoardings as we pushed on down Bishopsgate – 22 London seems to have had a chequered history and it’s not quite the same project that was happening when we were last along here.   Other barriers were already in place for the Lord Mayor’s show which will have happened by the time you read this. We hazarded that next year’s mayor might be a Mercer as they had hung a large banner from their first floor. As we learnt on our trip to the Mansion HouseThe Lord Mayor is self-funded so not sure whether he pays for his ‘Show’ as well?  The hoardings and barriers continue and are joined by diversion signs but on Thursday we were still able to get round St Paul’s.

I was feeling pretty confident the Number 8 would be completing its  journey within the time scheduled but I had of course forgotten about High Holborn – the earlier bit round the Prudential was fine and sunny and with lots people out questing their various lunches but once we had passed  Chancery Lane and Holborn stations progress was  reduced to sitting still behind a row of taxis .
‘Why on earth would you sit in a taxi in this stopped traffic?’ I said to Jo at which point we watched a father and son just get out of their cab and walk.  The Bus Project rules determine that we stay put so we had ample opportunity to admire the heraldry on Holborn Town Hall in detail and we could just about have popped into the pretty The Princess Louise Pub, bought a drink and got back on.

'Many shall pass through and learning Shall be Increased’  Library or Pub? - Looking down on a van that said ‘Mum you can find me on Google Maps’ was a bit confusing  but kept us amused while passing the Lego brick-like flats until we finally arrived at the end point – not strictly Tottenham Court Road but a point outside St Giles., he who saved a Hind from hunters - just what you need in London?  
It was great to be back in parts of the East End with sights old and new and through the City on a well-established route.

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