Friday, 21 June 2019

The Number 46 Route

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.

Quite rapidly we were in Kings Cross, where the new building has made a lot of progress since last week.

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

 After going under the platforms of St Pancras (Linda's eyes glazing slightly as I pointed out the handsome segregated cycle track along here) we passed St Pancras Old Church, with its very interesting graveyard, and then the Royal Veterinary College. Don't worry, they have a rural branch rather than keeping all their animals here.

 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.

We then came past the large and private Wellington Hospital,  and the various substantial properties of this part of London, before crossing Maida Vale to reach Little Venice.  St Saviour's Church is not the most beautiful we have ever seen, and we could only glimpse the canal through the trees.

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.

Friday, 14 June 2019

The Number 45 Route

Thursday 13 June 2019

This two-bus trip was rather a Jo-benefit outing, as one started and the other ended conveniently close to me. After a brief walk through the residential streets of Streatham Hill, pausing to admire a handsome solanum, we boarded the 45 just before 11.40. 

We were bound for King's Cross:  but tomorrow will be the last day for this and then Elephant and Castle will be the end point.  There were VERY FREQUENT announcements of this route change, all the way north.

As so often, the main characteristics of this journey were road works and new buildings. We had a longish spell without rain, but then it began to pour.

We came out of Streatham and into Brixton Hill, where there is a wide range of religious offerings, including the Calvary Pentecostal Ministry, and its next door neighbour, the Brixton Hill Islamic Centre. We passed signs to Brixton Prison, but it is tucked away from the main road, unlike Pentonville.

We came into the main part of Brixton, past St Matthew's Church, Lambeth Town Hall and the Tate Library, before passing under the railway bridges.  Brixton has one for loving messages, and the other for more political and, we assume, unofficial material.  Some weeks ago they were rejecting the inflow of yuppies from Clapham;  today the message read 'London's most dangerous gang - Met Police, the system's goons'.

We were able to turn into Gresham Road through a little bus-and-cycle only cut, and so were smoothly to Loughborough Junction, and several new blocks of apartments. Some had inspirational words (like 'home' and 'happy') as part of the decor of the railings, too small to photograph from the upstairs of a bus, but none the less rather endearing.

We noted the Midwives' House, but assumed it was more an office than accommodation.  Also in this area were a couple of bakeries of the modern kind, with special names:  The Bread of Life Bakery is directly opposite Flour to the People. We saw, as we came into Camberwell Green, that there were bus stops the project would never need again, involving as they did the 35,40,42 and 45.

As we came past the Nollywood Bar, which celebrates the Film Industry of Nigeria, almost as large as that of India, we noted inspectors and police ready for action at a bus stop;  but they didn't want the 45, so we weren't delayed.  There are again many religious places in this area, and we passed an enormous funeral just leaving the Walworth Methodist Church, home of the Ghanaian Fellowship. Mourners were climbing into a coach, and others were loading handsome floral tributes into the various cars.

We came past the imposing Red Lion pub, and admired the attractive upper storeys of the parade of shops along here:  more imposing than the shops themselves, unless you factor in Beefy Boys, selling men's clothing in sizes up to 8XL.  East Street Market seemed as busy as usual
Approaching Elephant and Castle always involves huge amounts of building works. We noted especially The Levers, a private development by Peabody; though some of them are for shared ownership, most are for private sale; I suppose this is the way an ancient housing charity has to finance its work.

So we came through Elephant and Castle, glimpsing the attractive Bakerloo Line Station, and the Michael Faraday Memorial, as well as a massive new block with pretty tiling around the Tesco.

We headed up towards Blackfriars Bridge, alongside the North-South Cycle Super Highway.  Linda, living in a car owning household, doesn't really care for the road narrowing effect, though will admit (when tortured) that fewer cars would be better for us all.  The smooth flow of cyclists, not to mention other traffic was, of course, hampered by the belief of van drivers that their needs come first.

As we crossed the bridge, we boggled at the large number of floating cranes, and the huge coffer dam just about visible through the driving rain.  We knew that building a super sewer for London was not going to be easy, but troubles seem to abound.

The road up Farringdon was also very slow, giving me a chance to confirm the van-driver-and-cycle-lane views I mentioned earlier. There is, of course, a solution....

So along past the former Prudential Building, and up the very slow Gray's Inn Road (named, by the way, for the nobleman who owned this area in the 15th century).  

We passed a street completely blocked off for building works, which I suppose never helps the traffic flow, and inched our way up to Kings Cross, where both roadworks and new buildings going up helped slow things down even further.

Eventually, we reached York Way and the end, (literally for this route) at 1.10.  From now on, it's the 63 or nothing if you want a bus from Elephant and Castle to Kings Cross.  On the other hand, both are on the same branch of the Northern Line. 

We had had a fairly straight, if slow, south-north run, with a lot of interest and typical early June weather. The 75th anniversary of D-Day should be enough to remind us that it could have been worse.