Monday, 29 April 2013

The EL2 Route

Ilford Railway Station to Dagenham Docks  
Wednesday  December 12th 2012

We have walked the wrong way  just about every time we have been near Ilford – the place plays host to so many bus routes that they are generously scattered along its highways and byways (mainly a fierce ring road). Today, having slithered our way from frosty Hainault, we finished behind the High Street and started looking for Bus Stop P. With Q and R to hand you might have thought there would be a handy P but no. We then (my fault) found ourselves sidling along what was not intended as pavement as the cars and buses raced past on the ring road, and fell into Sainsbury’s. Still no bus stop as required but at least a sighting of both EL1 & 2 and we finally tracked them down opposite the almshouses  but known locally as the hospital chapel and the oldest building in Ilford/Redbridge.

From old to new we were about to board one of the East London Transit double deckers, introduced in 2010 (after we had set up our Project’s database aka the Master List) in order to improve services and provide speedier connections for the people living in the Thames Gateway areas. There is a rather strange US rather than UK ring to the term ‘transit’ but that’s as may be, we were very firmly in East London.

The 2 routes have quite a distinctive red and orange livery and they certainly run very frequently.  Off we set down Ilford Lane, where we noted most of the businesses were geared for the South Asian communities – very large and impressive fruit and vegetable displays, several specialist sari and wedding shops, two jewellers and inevitably a law firm specialising in immigration.  At this point a couple of primary school classes got on and distributed themselves both upstairs and downstairs chattering away in their twos.  Just as the EL2 gets to the Mosque on the corner of Victoria Road it crosses the very thin end of Loxford Water, a small lake in Barking Park which may well trickle on into the Thames, heading much the same way as us.

Barking announces itself by the Roundabout Art – fish nets with caught herring to remind passers by of its history Barking flourished as a fishing port from the 1400s until late Victorian times, with the Barking fishing fleet one of the most important in the country. The first Ice House to enable fish to be preserved was built in Barking in 1829.

As a special bus we were allowed on past the station and to take a route through   the High Street , which is largely pedestrianised, today boasting lamppost mounted Christmas decorations. In anticipation perhaps of the better links promised by the east London Transit scheme there is significant building in Barking Town Centre, including the intriguingly named Lemonade Building. There are plenty of views of the flats for sale/rent but no idea why the building has this name other than the rather citric colour scheme.

Leaving Barking behind we found the Ripple Road, where several previous routes had taken us, and remembered of course the impressively large and yellow brick Ripple Road Primary School.

Still that was all we were to see of Ripple Road this trip as were about to cross, quite quickly as it happens, the A13 and continue perceptibly down hill along the aptly named River Road.  Not only does it run parallel to Barking Creek but it crosses a few of the smaller tributaries that run into it, and of course gets down to The Thames.

But there was one more important place for us to call, namely along Bastable Way and the Thamesview EstateThat is not the most positive picture and East London Transit is one of many steps being taken to address the isolation – we noticed the school party getting out at the midway focal point of this estate and thought they must be heading into the Sue Bramley Centre, which offers a arrange of nursery and other activities.

There is more building at the far end of  the older Thamesview Estate where the EL1 terminates. Though we had not heard of Jerram Falkus they seem to be a well established building firm and had the contract to extend the range of housing here.

Leaving the EL1 and residential life behind the EL2 speeds on down to Dagenham passing both empty and desolate land on one side interspersed with storage and depot facilities. In the old days ships not inclined to pay their dues as far into the city as Docklands, could offload here and distribute by road or carrier. Apart from the Beckton Sewage works and the Power station there are the large and very impressive electricity pylons that you can see from well south of the river, Eddie Stobart has a depot here as do Hovis – a far cry from their 'pushing a bicycle up cobbled streets' image they like to portray. There also seemed to be several areas with barred access and more re-cycling facilities .

Really there are no bus stops along here, very little traffic so the bus can belt along until it rather surprisingly comes to rest under the A13 near Dagenham Dock station.
 We barely had time to explain our ‘mission’ to our driver when we leapt on the next departing EL2  to get us back to Thames view. A quick, as it should be with this scheme, and contrasting trip of old and new housing old and new industries. 
PS. Life has rather caught up with us so there may be a wait for our next the meantime there will be a random non-route, not on the bus maps.
Thanks to diamondgeezer for keeping the faith with us and keeping us up to date with transport developments.    


  1. Sorry to read your footnote. I hope all is ok, and that you will be back to the front-line soon.
    Best regards,

  2. I've always enjoyed a fine travelogue,for a year or so now. I hope that you are ahead of life soon. Best wishes, Paul