Saturday, 30 March 2019

The NUMBER 28 Route

Wandsworth (Southside Shopping Centre) to Kensal Rise Station
Thursday March 28 2019

Well here’s a thing – I can remember when I just started work that the Route 28 took me very neatly from home (Golders Green Station ) to Wandsworth Plain. When did this all change?
Well, according to this website in 1999, which shows you how often I have taken this route in the last twenty years, so today was a (partial) nostalgia trip.

We had left our last route, the 87 in quiet Wandsworth Plain and crossed the South Circular to use the facilities in the Southside Shopping Centre – not a resource that had been here when I worked by the Town Hall; there had then been a somewhat gloomy indoor market. Next door to the handsome library was a local plaque for the Biograph Theatre, which would of course been a cinema. 

The 28 now starts at the top end of Garrat Lane and weaves its way back to Wandsworth Bridge trying to avoid too many major roads.  Wandsworth and Battersea Riversides have changed considerably with mainly luxury blocks going up where local industries – Prices candles, Gin , cement etc used to be. There may be traffic-caused pollution but Wandsworth is a lot more fragrant than it was in the early Seventies.

The 28 is only one of three routes to cross the rather unremarkable Wandsworth Bridge to arrive in what was once the very working class area of Fulham, with smaller homes for the pottery, brewing, laundry and other workers who lived (and shopped here). Times change however and even in twenty years gentrification has spread.  This can be seen in the number of small shops offering design services for interiors and special tiling/flooring etc. These quite narrow roads are often tree lined and certainly the borough responsible was taking care to keep its Plane trees down in shape and size by means of pollarding. 

The North End Road , which the 28 follows faithfully for its entire length, has long been a hub for this area, and famed for its market, which today seemed to consist of a few trading stalls more or less on the pavement. The council seems very keen to retain and promote the character of this district but with modern habits of shopping/cooking less and eating ready-made meals more this may prove an uphill struggle. There are plenty of lamppost banners supporting their aspirations.

The other hangover from the more thriving street market days is the number of pubs: some have gone but others continue such as ‘The Barrow Boy’ – very aptly named as it's thirsty work getting your voice and wares out there -  and ‘The Goose’ (less so but offering a secret garden). The ‘Live & let Live’ pub in spite of its name died in 2016…

We also enjoyed the Fish & Chip shop with its slightly dated fascia to which a new owner had perhaps added ‘and Kebabs’ as an afterthought?

By the time Fulham morphs into West Kensington the character of the North End road changes too – instead of a wealth of side roads with small houses (and the occasional grander villas round Walham Green) you get the drabber area round Olympia – here there are those mansion blocks, larger subdivided houses and plenteous densely packed social housing. The large church is also being restored with an awning which delivers the same fa├žade!

This includes the Lytton Estate – I could not find for whom it was named but did discover it was built on the site of a former grand house 'The Grange' where both the author Samuel Richardson and the artist Edward Burne Jones lived – though not at the same time.

Very soon we started smartening up as we were now on the same route as the 27 last week and heading along Kensington High Street passing the Design Museum, which we had not visited for our previous Project, after it moved here from Shad Thames.  Between the modern square blocks you can just see the curves of the old Commonwealth Institute, whose site it took over. 

There is a ‘chicken & egg’ conundrum – were the travel outlets here first and because they offered exotic locations this attracted the outdoor sports clothing shops such as ‘Columbia’ and ‘Kathmandu’ or was it the other way round?  Whatever they cluster at this end of Kensington High Street .

Today we were turning left up Church street with no demonstrations to slow us down – in fact so smartly I could not capture the lovely flower stall by the parish church of St Mary Abbots.

Once round the corner exclusivity is the name of the game with many quiet looking shop fronts specialising in different kinds of antiques from round the world and to suit well lined pockets only…
I had remembered the Churchill Arms from ten years ago because of its stand out display of flowers, though somewhat surprisingly it does not have street side seating.

The roads stay narrow as we crossed over by Notting Hill passing the Portobello Road, once famous for its street stalls of vintage clothes and fittings – many of these seem now to have moved into permanent shops along Pembridge Road, even attracting school parties?

When the shops stop the gracious white painted villas start and our steady progress was only halted by a skip lorry trying to reverse across and an adult on a scooter, in either case illegal. The blossom trees were lovely along by St Stephen’s .

By the time we are heading towards Westbourne Park Station the housing is much denser and the Brunel Estate lines one side of the road after which in quick succession the bus dives under Westway, over the railway lines, and then over the canal passing also Westbourne Park Bus Garage where the drivers changed so seamlessly we barely noticed. The bus garage nestles nicely under the flyover – not surprising as it was built at the same time.

This last part of the journey seemed the strangest to me as I recalled the 28 working its way through Kilburn and West End lane and home to Golders Green but here we were striking along the Harrow Road with the canal to be glimpsed through the water side buildings; it was also clear that this was an area (previously) home to the Irish community.

There are quite a few new homes and a Westminster-run gym along Kilburn Lane and then the bus takes a dip below the main road to stop close to Kensal Rise station, now on the Overground, which was very handy for both of us. This very interesting, slightly wiggly SW to NW bus trip had taken just four minutes over the hour and though often on busy and narrow roads had avoided much of the heavier central London traffic.

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Number 27 Route

Thursday 21 March 2019
The 27 used to go as far as Chiswick, so Linda had made one of her cunning plans before discovering that it now ends at Hammersmith Bus Station. This was part of last year's planning to cut services in aid of the Elizabeth Line (about which more later) and went with the 440's changes. Undaunted, we made our way to Hammersmith by a bus that you will learn about soon, made use of the costly but clean facilities of the bus station, and were onto the 27 soon after 12.10.

We have been here several times in the past few weeks, so were unsurprised by the new-builds and road works, and swept past Nazareth House, as well as the very strange St Paul's Hotel.

Andrew, the gardener in my marriage, has always said that he prefers other people to grow his forsythias for him, and this route, on this equinox day, was luminous with 'other people's' forsythias.

Very speedily, we were at Kensington Olympia, where it is the Ideal Home Exhibition. It has been going since 1908, though with a six year gap in the 1940s.
 As we went over the railway, we admired the pretty terrace, with palm trees and a sort of column with an urn on top of it.  This area was speculatively built up in the 1870s, so I suppose the monument might be for him, though even the splendid hidden-London website does not mention it.
 Along High Street Kensington, we saw a number of outdoor type shops, with names like Katmandu and Snow and Rock, but we thought Trotters, with its charming flying pig was a more enticing offer.
Linda is very fond of magnolias, and the front gardens of this route was pretty well lined with them, looking their best on this warm spring day
We saw what appeared to be a picket line as we proceeded through Kensington, but it turns out that it's all about Coventry City Football Club and the hedge fund that owns the club. I'm not going to say anything about them as they like litigation, but you can read all about it here, thanks to The Guardian.
We, on the other hand, turned left into Kensington Church Street, to a more peaceful area, with antique and art shops. It also has an LCC blue plaque for the composer Muzio Clementi, who lived here in the early 19th century. And a timber merchant, as well, which is remarkable in such a poshed-up area.  We also noted the Gotham Gallery where, I suggested, Batman might buy his artworks.
Linda also likes ghost signs, and we were pleased to see the remains of an advertisement for Dundee Marmalade, though whether it will survive the renovations to its building seems unclear.
 Now we were at Notting Hill, passing a couple of cinemas and the book shop, before heading along Westbourne Grove towards Paddington
We liked the mixture of shops and restaurants along here, and admired some of Westminster's public housing, pleasantly set back from the road.

And then we turned down Eastbourne Terrace, once a good place to catch a bus, but now entirely occupied by Elizabeth Line works. If this is going to be finished in 9 months, we shall be very impressed as it looks mostly like a large hole in the ground at the moment.  Perhaps we should offer to eat our bus maps if it hits its massively revised deadline.

And of course the many lorries servicing the works show all the consideration for public transport vehicles that you might expect. 
Turning left to pass Paddington Station, we noted the flowery facade of the Pride of Paddington pub, and were pleased to find the traffic relatively smooth-flowing.  we were also pleased that we were not going to travel along the Edgware Road at all, though we did slide past the tube station, as well as that building adorned with bathroom/kitchen tiles which we have seen on other journeys.

Thus we came into the Marylebone Road, crossing Gloucester Place and Baker Street, now back to being two way streets, rather than 3 lane motorways respectively north and south.  We passed the southern edge of Regents Park and the handsomely renovated Park Crescent East (they have just started work on the West side).

We were pleased to be in a bus lane as we came towards University College Hospital. Of course the Euston Road is not in the Congestion Zone, so people do not have to pay extra to be stuck in traffic here.
Turning up Hampstead Road, we felt we were nearly there. Linda spotted a buddleia growing out of the Lord Palmerston pub and theatre.  Although the bus lane was close (yes!  HS2, the other much loved infrastructure project so essential to Londoners) we made good progress, past the Carreras building and Mornington Crescent Tube Station. Just in case there are any mathematicians reading this, here's a website explaining the intricacies of the game.

 As we went up Camden High Street we were amused by the art work on the side of a Green Flag lorry, and of course we enjoyed the shop fronts of Chalk Farm Road, as well as a glimpse of the Lock for which the market is named, before turning into Morrisons' rather bleak forecourt, just under an hour from leaving Hammersmith.


 A route that takes you past both Crossrail and HS2 might be expected to be slow, but we had made good progress on this varied and interesting trip.