Wednesday 22 January 2014
The W15 goes from Hackney Central (or at least the big Tesco's just along from the station) to a remote - or so it seemed to us - part of Walthamstow called Higham Hill. It was a single decker and, I think, the dirtiest bus we have been on in the five years of the project. I could have searched through the archive for pictures to illustrate this trip, but instead I shall use the ones that Linda took, and if anyone from Tower Transport reads this, I hope they are suitably ashamed.
Linda and I hopped on board with no wait at 10.00, and the bus was immediately full, and getting fuller with each stop. We headed out through some blocks of social housing, to reach Homerton Hospital, where a number of passengers got off, whether staff or patients we could not tell, and a further number got on.
We came straight out of the hospital grounds to pass the Wally Foster Community Centre. I'm not sure who Wally was, though the web tells me that a lot of wonderful things happen at the centre. Hackney Marsh is once again becoming a football centre: the disruption of the Olympics will soon be as distant a memory as the onion and potato fields of the Dig for Victory Campaign of the Second World War, which also disrupted sport on the Marshes.
We crossed both the River Lea Navigation, and the River itself, to reach New Spitalfields Market, with many notices indicating that it belongs to the Corporation of the City of London. There were views to the right towards the Olympic Park, with the Orbit barely visible through our grimy windows. Still, we shall all be able to go up it fairly soon. There were lots of flood lights and cranes, to accelerate the building works, and here we changed drivers.
Then we came past the overpass of the A12 to pass Leyton Library and High Street, and the Northcote pub.
At this point a young woman got on, with a suitcase, handbag, and dead Oyster card. We waited some time while she said she had 'no money' and eventually the driver allowed her to stay on till we reached Leytonstone Station. (how she was planning to continue her journey with no money is not clear, though she may of course have meant that she had no change) The station has an interesting brick art work outside it, which we gather is called 'Time Terminus' and represents various buses as well as incorporating a circular seat for people who are waiting for a real one. I feel JMW Turner might be proud of Linda's photograph, but it might give you the idea.
On we went, along Fairlop Road, where the houses are quite large and many have replacement windows of the Tudor leaded panes type, to reach Whipps Cross Hospital. It took some time, and several stops, to complete the visit to the hospital. It has some fine old buildings, as we have noted before, and some functional-looking new buildings too, but this time we noticed a large expanse of boarded up buildings as well, presumably waiting for redevelopment to begin.
Once we were finally out of the hospital, we headed along Lea Bridge Road, to fork left and come to the Bakers Arms. There is no longer a pub of that name, just a fine inn sign to mark the area. The two pubs we did pass were the Shoe Laces and then the William IV.
Now we were coming into Walthamstow, and having a bit of nostalgia about how very often we had been here since 13 July 2009 when we travelled the 20. We do like the beehive plasterwork of the Co-op's great building, even if their reputation is now less of busy bees and more of specious banking deals.
Heading past the transport hub of Walthamstow Central Station, we carried on to pass the church of St Patrick (actually it's Our Lady of the Rosary and St Patrick) with a fine painting on its front, and a companion Parish Hall and Primary School across the road.
Waltham Forest is building a new Willowfield Humanities College, though progress is at an early stage. It is conveniently near one of the three railway stations of Walthamstow, namely Blackhorse Road.
As we headed on, we admired the wall painting of a rather period motor car, as well as Ink'd Chronicles which is, of course, a Tattoo Parlour.
As we went past the Lord Palmerston Pub (no, he was not from round here...) we found we were going down hill, though we had not particularly noticed going up, and realised we were heading into the Lea Valley and the end of our ride. By now we were the only people on the bus. The last pub we passed was the Warrant Officer, an interesting name, since it denoted an officer with skills, and therefore a warrant, as opposed to an officer with money or contacts who was 'commissioned'.
At 11.10 we arrived at the terminating point of this interesting route, with a fine view of the reservoir as a reward.
We explained to our charming driver what we were doing, and why we would want to ride back to somewhere nearer to our next bus. He told us a bit about himself, and we wish him really well in the next stage of his career.