Thursday 4 March 2010

The Number 58 Route

East Ham (White Horse) to Walthamstow Central Station

Tuesday March 2nd 2010

Today we were joined by one of our followers – Green Lanes Girl – who is on a break between two high-powered city jobs. She must be a good luck charm – sunshine at last. And she took loads of photos for us, along what was pretty new territory for all of us.

We set off from the White Horse adjacent to Central Park (not that one) which has benefited greatly from some Lottery Funding so has new facilities we were pleased to use, and gave us a chance to admire the War memorial – the park also contains a more personal memento for a ship’s steward who went down with the Titanic.

This route immediately serves the wonderful civic complex of Newham Town Hall with its ensuite library, fire and police stations; such was civic pride in the late 19th century. There are more up to date services for local residents like the Sickle Cell Centre and the Hartley Centre – a multi-purpose community resource. The bus strikes cross town (it was very much ones of those routes rather than an into town and out one) affording a full frontal view of West Ham’s stadium, which keeps the regal Tudor theme of honouring Anne Boleyn. Research indicates she once had a home here in Green Street, hence the honour paid her! (The Boleyn cinema had some Bollywood films) The crenellated towers flank the main entrance to this comparatively small premiership stadium (35.000 capacity) though Jo said they were medieval rather than Tudor? The Trevor Brooking stand tells you all you need to know about local heroes. Very soon, and quite slowly as it’s the high street we edged along by Upton Park Station and Queens Market (no apostrophes so we are not sure how many royals).

As High Streets go this one is in pretty good shape with lots of small lively shops and shoppers, our eyes very caught by the exquisite saris and gold bangle outlets, so we have promised ourselves a return trip. The shops and pavements were equally colourful with bright street furniture, especially the lampposts, Gaudi type benches all interspersed with fruit and food ‘Rice, Spice and All Things Nice’ as the shop front said. Ambala, famed for its Indian sweets, has an outlet here too.

Heading North we crossed the Romford Road towards Forest Gate through which there was a tremendous range of religion on offer: Temples, Mosques and Churches abound but we thought one slogan would do for today. The bus has to negotiate some quite narrow roads such as Dames Road, which takes you to Wanstead Flats, looking quite rural in the sunshine, with geese plashing in the pond or was it standing water? Really they are the southern tail-end of Epping Forest. Apparently cows grazed here until the BSE crisis. Then Cann Hall Road through Leyton and another football ground. Like SE London, the Underground hardly reaches this part of the city so buses and to some extent the railway are the way to get around. It seems William Morris was born and brought up in Walthamstow which might explain naming a school after the home he acquired after getting richer and more famous – Kelmscott Manor.

Roundabout here we were rather tantalized by the view of distant cranes (the building sort) which we think belong to the Olympic site but the bus turned off before we could really see. It seems likely we were seeing the Olympic Village going up, though this may be as near as we can get for a while. There is clear evidence of the history of Leyton with a parish church and rather overgrown cemetery alongside (how handy) the almshouses, still inhabited by a guy with 2 equally elderly dogs we saw taking the sun.

A very well maintained grander house makes sure we all know this was the residence of Cardinal Wiseman, the first (post-Reformation) RC archbishop of Westminster. There are some Coronation Gardens, which research tells me were planted to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII. However it seems the shine may have come off the Park somewhat. Leyton still has its town clock, now rather overshadowed by the volume of passing traffic as once again we followed the railway and headed into Walthamstow (makes a change from heading out which is what we’ve done before) revealing that it has a shopping centre from this approach.

On the dot of the 59 minutes estimated we drove into Walthamstow bus station delighted with our sunny and colourful journey, which let us enjoy some corners of East London, where we had never been.


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