Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The H12 Route

Thursday May 30th 2013
South Harrow Underground Station to Stanmore Station

This was half-term and Jo was walking in Italy while Mary was on grandparent duty so I decided to travel alone, having arrived at South Harrow via an Uxbridge route and the Piccadilly Line. This is a well-used and frequent service thus justifying a double decker and without hesitation we rolled out of the small bus station. While this may have been a pleasant enough route the bus itself was dirty – you stuck to the floor in various places and the handrails were not for the faint-hearted. The driver too seemed to think he was handling some kind of sports car on a race-track as he threw the vehicle round the numerous bends that characterize the route, so not altogether a comfortable trip capturing a corner of NW London. Thus the photos are pretty fuzzy too..

This route leaves the High Road very soon, just long enough to note the South Asian flavours of the area, including the Hyderbadi Nawab Indian Restaurant – a name I thought stood out from the usual slew of Taj Mahals, Agras and Koh-i-Noors. Whether the food matches the name I cannot comment.
The bus takes a ‘back route’ to Rayners Lane, passing initially more established housing but towards the Rayners end there were signs of newer commuter flats (2 beds) and promises of  'The Spectrum'.

 I thought these might be homes to buy or private rent but it seems they may be Harrow council revamping some of its social housing?  This route touches on the High Street area long enough to remember this is where the Zoroastrians have their UK HQ, seemingly housed in the old cinema, and that Mr Sydney Hurry is keen to help you move onto the next world, with his undertakers business.

Village Way takes the route towards Pinner (named for the River Pinn, which runs through the village),  another North London ‘village’ if you will, and another lane for the driver to swoop along – this time Cannonbury with 2 ‘ns’ to distinguish it from the Islington variety of Canons. By now the trees were so leafy (and heavy with rain) that we were being battered by branches as well as thrown about – it’s a wonder I can read my notes.

Amongst Pinner’s independent shops I spotted a sign saying ‘The Meat Like It Used To Be Company’ which seems neither a good name – hardly snappy, not strictly grammatical – nor that enticing a concept, as perhaps we remember fatty gristly meat that appeared at school dinners (to be replaced by the even unhealthier turkey twizzler?). I presume what they mean is a traditional butcher’s shop.  

I only caught a rather tantalizing glimpse of the very splendid Art Deco blocks, which make up Elm Park Court, still looking fresh with their eye-catching green and white finish. From there it was back onto the altogether busier Uxbridge Road; at the risk of sounding like an estate agent (it has to be said these letter routes are substantially residential in nature so we are reduced to commenting on the housing stock which gives each area its character) the homes here are of the ‘luxury block’ variety, small and often gated.

The next announcement said we were arriving at Hatch End telephone exchange…? I was not clear why it was such a landmark, but realised Hatch End had never been on my radar thinking it was somewhere in Hertfordshire or Essex; now it proved to be another ‘village,’ its High Street having excellent vertical and horizontal planters, and even a little station tucked away below street level. That this is now on the Overground must increase property values even further. It also boasts the sizeable Harrow Arts Centre – planned productions include ‘Teechers’ – and a swimming pool also. 

The Letchford Arms Pub had been shuttered up though its namesake Letchford House is a listed building along Headstone Lane*, which gave our driver his last opportunity to swing the bus sharply to the right and take the curve to serve what is ostensibly a large area of social housing also blessed with the Overground. This being half-term, a large group of girls got on the bus for quite a short distance.  This little detour off the Uxbridge Road allows the bus to call in at Harrow Weald Bus garage where the drivers changed; they obviously knew each other as they swapped holiday accounts. The stop was long enough to observe that any hungry driver would have the choice of Waitrose on the one hand or KFC on the other.   The driving became noticeably smoother thereafter and we were soon back on the Uxbridge Road heading steadily via a series of planted-up roundabouts to Stanmore.  Some recent German visitors had been very complimentary, and shown ‘roundabout-envy’ about the English love of vehicle management and how much traffic sense they made, so I suppose we should stop taking them for granted. More Uxbridge Road meant more spacious set back properties, and green verges with low hanging trees. Harrow Weald Cemetery adds to the general aura of open greenness.

Just as we approached Stanmore the traffic slowed to an almost standstill – time to admire St John’s Church which is picturesque if not distinguished, and to catch the H12 in front. The Broadway, though so called, is not very so traffic, by now consisting of several double decker routes, always slows through Stanmore but today there were even more delays due to road works further up outside Stanmore Station, the resting place for this NW London criss cross bus route. 

 * co-incidentally diamondgeezer has been visiting an ancient barn in Headstone  diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk - see here for his account of the Harrow rarity 

You may remember that we did some filming in late April for the  London Councils – you can now find the excellent results on their website or via Youtube   http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/freedompass/news/pressdetail.htm?pk=1622


  1. I'm not surprised when you said the bus was dirty and old (I think they'll be replaced some point next year) and also when you said that they drive like it's a formula one sports car - Metroline (At the Harrow Weald bus garage who run 140, 182 and H12)are very fast drivers, if you were downstairs - You might've been able to see them open the doors whilst the bus is still moving.

    Great post ladies! It brings back memories of me living in Harrow! Thanks a lot! :)

  2. Thank you once again, Ladies Who Bus, for alerting me to the existence of the 60+ Photocard. Mine arrived last week and I am blissfully free of travel costs four years before I expected to be! And if you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have known.... TfL are not exactly publicising the scheme, are they?

    I owe you more than I can say for that one!

  3. I love reading about the rides, keep up the good work.

    As a current Pinner resident and an ex-resident of Hyderabad (India), yes, the Hyderabdi Nawab restaurant is excellent and much better than the other local fare. It replaced the Greek restaurant there a few months ago, reflecting the changing demographics of the area.

    The Meat Like It Used To Be Company is a local butcher shop with quality meats.