diamond geezer

 Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Prime Movers
Route 13: Aldwych - Golders Green
Location: London northwest, inner
Length of journey: 7 miles, 40 minutes


The 13 was one of the very last routes to convert from two- to one-man operation, falling victim to new accessible vehicles just a couple of months ago. But I believe in forward planning so I made my particular journey back in the summer, back when route 13 was still run by Routemasters. In the interests of true up-to-date accuracy, however, I've greyed out any part of my report which no longer holds true today. Why not read it twice?

The graceful Routemaster buses of route 13 emerge at regular intervals from an Aldwych sideroad in the shadow of historic St Mary le Strand church. You can't board until the bus reaches the Strand, not unless you try leaping onto the rear platform while the bus is stopped at the Aldwych traffic lights. From here, so long as the road is jam-free, you can hurtle past the Savoy towards Trafalgar Square with the bus rattling, humming, shuddering and rocking as it goes. The driver then has to jockey for position to manouevre into the correct lane for Piccadilly Circus, before crawling slowly up Regent Street at the speed of the cyclist in front. Take a moment to admire this Georgian street and the absence of tacky commercialised illuminated decorations strung above the roadway. Then maybe you'll catch sight of a 159, not yet the only remaining Routemaster serving Oxford Street, as you take part in the usual snail's pace procession of bumper-to-bumper buses.

See the white-clad athletes out exercising their racquet skills on the tennis courts in the middle of Portman Square, and then it's all three-lane and one-way up Gloucester Place. Mind that unreliable modern bus broken down by the side of the road with its front engine door gaping open. Watch out for the squeegee spivs massing at the junction with Marylebone Road, and try to take comfort that the driver is high enough up in his cab to avoid a mucky sponge on the windscreen. The passing residential terraces become taller and grander as you approach the Regent's Park Mosque and canal. And look down from your prime top deck seat as you pass Lord's and there's a perfect view of the rear of the Nursery End grandstand where large crowds have gathered to watch Hampshire beat Warwickshire in the C&G Trophy final.

The leafy streets of St John's Wood are lined by elegant eight storey residential blocks, although architectural standards slide downhill as you pass from Westminster into Camden. Swiss Cottage turns out to be a disappointing theme pub, not a luxury Alpine chalet, while Frognal is merely a subdivision of West Hampstead and not a French enclave. Don't forget to show your ticket to the friendly conductor who's now finally found time to inspect the upper deck - that's one job less to do. For the next mile your years-old bus ascends the gentle slopes of Finchley Road, with the summit of Child's Hill offering extensive views westward over London's inner suburbs. And finally, at the end of a long and characterful journey, just wait for the security barrier to rise and then park up in front of Golders Green station. Here the driver and conductor can pause in companionship for a friendly chat to stave off the boredom before preparing for the return journey aboard this same magnificent vehicle. Who ever said 13 was unlucky?

13 links
Route 13: anorak-level route information
Route 13: timetable
Route 13: last day of Routemaster service (October 2005)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream