diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 09, 2014

Biggin Hill 's probably the place in London worst served by rail, there being no station within a radius of about five miles. All of this makes the bus very important, unless you have a car (or in this case perhaps a plane). It boasts two services to Bromley and two to Orpington, and then there's today's cross country route. There's a good reason it's not a double decker.


 ROUND LONDON BY BUS (iv)
 Route 464: Biggin Hill - New Addington

 Length of journey: 3 miles, 10 minutes

I fear I rode the less interesting end of this route. The 464 runs all the way out to Tatsfield, the northeasternmost village in Surrey, which I understand is quaint and picturesque. I found Biggin Hill less so, although it's hard to tell when you haven't ridden through the centre. Instead I started on the northern outskirts, by the Black Horse pub, a sturdy gabled building which boasts Great Home Cooked Food Served All Day. It looks pleasant enough, but nearly lost its licence last year over accusations of crossbow attacks and drug dealing, so perhaps not. Nextdoor is Lunar Close, which is the sort of cul-de-sac you can drive home to from the Co-op in a mobility scooter, and then the floodlit War Memorial. This could have been my view for up to half an hour, but thankfully my 464 turned up rather more swiftly.

In good news, the bus runs along the edge of the famous airfield. First up are a bank of sheds and hangars, these now home to a minor trading estate accessed via the perimeter road, Churchill Way. Then comes Biggin Hill Airport proper, though it's unlikely you'll be flying from here soon. Plonked in the nearest corner is a grey monstrosity that's home to Rizonjet, a business terminal for Middle Eastern VIPs complete with luxury boardroom lounges and segregated his and hers prayer rooms. It beats queueing at Gatwick, be that on the ground or in the air. The lampposts get smaller as the dual carriageway continues, with the roadside verge offering a great view of any planes (or air shows) that might be taking off. The runway stops right alongside the road, with a bank of lights and a rather feeble looking fence the only protection should any flight ever overshoot.

The 464 turns off before the Spitfire, down an ominous slope. This is Saltbox Hill, another very atypical section of London bus route. The road's a bit narrow, so the 464's timetable has been tweaked to try to ensure that one of the two buses never meets the other bus coming the other way. The left-hand edge of the road is a wooded slope, over which it would I think be unwise to tumble, because we're entering a valley. And the gradient's steep enough to merit a 15% roadsign, and to get that special arrowed symbol marked on an Ordnance Survey map. You get these switchbacks in the provinces, sure, but it feels most odd paying by Oyster for the privilege.

Come in summer and I suspect the view's idyllic, all waving corn and contours. Over a damp New Year rather less so, although at least you can see the valley through the trees rather than experiencing the upper slopes purely by feel. And then yes, the road dives back up the other side, smartish, with the gradient meriting another OS notch. This is the delightfully-named Jewels Hill, and if anything is a bit steeper, and narrower, than the previous dip. Again anyone from Cornwall would laugh at the insignificance, but we are doing this in a London bus.

Compare and contrast. At the top of the hill, beyond the Roman Road, is the edge of one of the largest estates in London. The first sign of urban growth is the local secondary school at the end of King Henry's Drive, located where the Greenwich Meridian exits the capital. The 464 has entered New Addington, its swirling avenues nudged right up against the boundary with Surrey. This isolated residential outpost was built across fields in the 1930s and 1940s, finally completed by Croydon council in the 1960s, and is now home to over 20000 people.

New Addington doesn't have the best of reputations, but as you travel round this corner by bus it's not the housing that disappoints. The semis along Homestead Way are sturdy stock with tended front gardens, a decent amount of space for any family and relatively affordable. At any stop Duffer trackies and fur-hood anoraks might be waiting to board, perhaps a pushchair or two, but they won't be going far. The 464 stops short at Central Parade, annoyingly short of the bus station down the hill, for the good reason that there's an alternative means of escape. There may still be no trains anywhere near, but here beginneth the trams. 64>>

» route 464 - timetable
» route 464 - route history
» route 464 - live bus map
» route 464 - The Ladies Who Bus
» map of my journey so far

I was going to ride the next bus round my orbit, but when I strode to the top deck it was all steamed up and dripping with rain, and where's the joy in that? So I'll be returning to New Addington by tram, sometime, when the weather's improved.


<< 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  Nov17  Dec17
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