Thursday 20 June 2019
The 46 begins just behind Bart's hospital, so it is easy to access via City Thameslink Station. The facilities are at the Ludgate Hill exit to the station, otherwise we might have been better coming out of the other, Holborn Viaduct exit, some distance away. Still, we were onto our single decker just before 10.00am, and headed out past St Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church to pass a statue of Sir William Walworth. He's the Lord Mayor of London who murdered Wat Tyler, when the men of Kent and Essex thought they were under a safe-conduct. Still, 1381 is a long time ago.
As we came along Charterhouse Street, we passed what had once been the National Provincial Bank, subsequently swallowed by NatWest, but where some of the family used to bank in the middle of the last century.
We turned into High Holborn, and admired the cheery cherubs on the former Prudential Building, before turning right up the Grays Inn Road.
We have been here quite often in the past few weeks, so we greeted the Gillette ghost sign, and the Calthorpe community gardens as old friends. The Eastman Dental Hospital is also rather handsome, and the HQ of the Journalists' Union is also here.
The 46 is unique in turning right between Kings Cross and St Pancras and heading up Pancras Road to pass the German Gymnasium (now a restaurant, of course) and the various bits of the Google Empire which are not their headquarters as they don't pay taxes in this country
It was while we were travelling up through Camden that we noticed the little buttons on the backs of the seats. They almost looked as if they were to charge your E-Reader or phone, but we were not sure, and did not want to ask the driver who, it must be said, was a little bit tetchy this morning. I do agree with him about cab drivers stopped on double red lines and blocking the travel of the less affluent, and I am right with him about how signalling your intentions (eg for changing lanes) appears to have become optional; but even so, his hooting and occasional remarks indicated someone who was not happy.
On our way to the Kentish Town Road, we passed the Old Eagle pub. It has many musical instruments hanging from the ceiling and filling the walls, but I have been unable to find out why. We headed across into Prince of Wales Road, passing the beautiful swimming pool, a listed art deco space which was saved from becoming flats in 2010. Then on, past Kentish Town West Station and Queen's Crescent Market, to reach Fleet Road. If you haven't walked the Fleet, and need inspiring to do so, have a look at the excellent Londonist's account.
This bus serves the Royal Free Hospital, so a number of fairly mature travellers got on and off here. We passed the horrid toilets in Fountain Square. Linda and I had both read an article in the LRB which explains their parlous condition: local authorities are not required to provide public conveniences. But if they do, they must comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. Making these subterranean places accessible is prohibitively expensive: so much easier to sell them and allow them to become gin bars: or, of course, just to neglect them.
After this, our bus was on diversion because of problems in Hampstead High Street, which enabled us to pass a cafe called Thyme ('there is no love sincerer than the love of food' it said), and we reached Swiss Cottage, heading back southwards.
The St John's Wood Harris Academy used to be Quintin Kynaston School, and Nile Rice, for one, is very bitter about what has happened, though I have no idea how accurate his views are.
And here we were, at Paddington again, with the new build flats which were so controversial 8 or 9 years ago. Along Bishop's Bridge Road we spotted a blue plaque of sorts: it proves to be for John Webster, who created that advertisement for Smash, which you can watch here.
Down Eastbourne Terrace (progress on the Elizabeth Line still slow...) we turned right along Craven Road to travel through residential streets. This meant we were not along the main Bayswater Road, which was probably an advantage, given its normal heavy traffic flow.
Finally, we came to Sussex Gardens, with a blue plaque for Cecil Beaton, the society photographer. Here are some of his photos (including, incidentally, one of Yul Brynner with hair).
The bus has to go out into the Bayswater Road for a tiny spell, to get round the Royal Lancaster Hotel and Lancaster Gate Tube station, and reach its terminating point at 11.20, conveniently for picking up our next bus.