Hackney Wick to Waterloo Station
Thursday March 14 2019
Last time we rode this route was in lovely summer sunshine and with a guest photographer riding along which is my way of excusing the standard of today’s photography – quantity yes, quality ?
We met at Hackney Wick which always strikes me as something of a no man’s land, cowering as it does under the elevated A12. The early part of the route is dominated by swathes of Hackney homes, some older but certainly more numerous than ten years ago. Dotted amongst them are a very few remaining pubs, which somehow must have survived various eras of demolition deliberate or otherwise.
Hackney also seemed to be laying (?) new cycle paths – not usually a feature I comment on but I was quite taken with these sandy looking lanes which I find more attractive than the blue of the Superhighways – I gather the ‘super’ bit is to be dropped in order to discourage a certain kind of cyclist who viewed them as an invitation to race ? Between the many new blocks you can see some remnants of older cottages in what once would have been Hackney Wyke village.. As Hackney’s own site says the regeneration has been extensive and noticeable.
The emphasis on providing space for artists is more obvious as you approach central Hackney and we passed both the London School of Architecture
cattle trough of which, according to this website, Hackney has several. And did you know that Samuel Gurney whose statue we passed last week was one of the founding members of this association?
Once we were over the Regents Canal we were heading down the Hackney Road – there are some new builds along here but the older shabbier outlets were very much as they were 10 years ago, namely bag/leather shops . This seems to be one of the older industries that has survived or been partially resurrected – we spotted Boris Bags, Dill Bags, United Bags, Face Bags, and no doubt missed many more.
The Hackney Road leads the 26 into even trendier Shoreditch, famous for its varied graffitti, past Columbia Market, and what I thought was a cycle /launderette combo called ‘Powder to the People’, which is apparently a dance song.
Interestingly there were also several hoardings advertising ‘Containerville’ which offers nearby workspace for creatives presumably at a lesser cost than the office and living spaces going up just close to Liverpool Street station.
The 26 slowed down along Broadgate – the rather Mannerist block which went up about 30 years ago is being renovated doubtless with some additions. We were not clear whether this is the cause of Liverpool Street’s bus station not being in use but more likely Crossrail, whose changing end date rivals that of Brexit.
Just past here where Wormwood street crosses we had our second (still rainy) viewing of the little cabin perched on the overhead footbridge – an artwork from 2018’s Sculpture in the City.
St Botolph’s , whose plan was to welcome all comers, nestles between the newer buildings with another building site further along so it was quite a relief to be coming down the side of the more familiar Bank of England where access is now restricted to buses and cycles, and of course pedestrians.
There followed the slowest part of this trip today, slow enough for the weather to go from grey to rain to sun in the way only London spring weather can as we passed St Paul’s , St Mary Aldermanbury whose garden
is one of the welcome oases in the City, and then even more slowly down Ludgate Hill . I sometimes envisage Sir Christopher Wren looking at the traffic in a totally bemused way and thinking how to walk must be faster than this – on the other hand had he lived nowadays he might have had a mid-life crisis and bought himself a useless sports car…
Inevitably as we still had to get considerably further west Fleet Street was the preferred route. No longer the hub of the printed word it boasts many fine public clocks – we thought to remind reporters of their deadlines.
All things considered the timings were not bad: just on an hour from far east Hackney Wick and clearly this 26 was ahead of schedule as he stopped on the bridge to ‘regulate the service’ though with only one stop to go it was more likely he was waiting for his space where the 26s rest up before they turn round. The final stop is of course in front of Waterloo Station side entrance, handy for us to step inside, use the now (since March 1st) free loos and admire Waterloo’s new platforms 20-23, once the home of Eurostar and finally refurbished.
But this is a bus blog so on we went to find our 381 to get us (nearer for some) to home.. after the 26 full of innovation and change from the last time we rode it.