diamond geezer

 Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Route W7: Muswell Hill to Finsbury Park
London's 6th shortest bus route
Length of journey: 2.48 miles (15 minutes)

Muswell Hill and Crouch End are infamously railwayless, so the W7 exists to whisk residents downhill to the nearest decent station. Previously this was the 212, renumbered in 1969 when it became a pioneering one-man-operated flat fare service. The W7 embraced experimentation again in 2001 when it was chosen to trial a cashless "Pay Before You Go" system aimed at speeding up boarding, with tickets available from roadside machines. It remains a speedy and very frequent route with a specific purpose, and recent figures confirm its crown as London's most crowded bus (in terms of number of passengers carried per mile travelled).



TfL are fortunate that the very heart of Muswell Hill, the roundabout on the Broadway where five roads meet, has been given over entirely to parking buses. W7s roll out at six minute intervals, perhaps three minutes if it's the rush hour, and spin round to pull up beside the Keith Blakelock memorial. While I wait for the next service my attention is drawn to the adjacent Broadway Hair Stylist, a very old fashioned barber shop whose front window photographs resemble a lineup from the late 1980s, as does the cluttered pomade'n'mirrors interior. The barber appears to be asleep but perks up when a regular customer arrives, and soon snippings of lank grey hair are falling onto his brown tunic, same as it ever was.

Although the interval between buses is short, at least 20 people are waiting to board by the time a W7 turns up. I grab the front seat to best enjoy the steep descent of Muswell Hill, beyond the foot of which a panorama of north and east London is arrayed. That must be Stratford directly ahead - I recognise the Orbit and that skyscraper with a notch in it. A sweep of Edwardian avenues stretch off to left and right, confirming this undulating suburb's enduring appeal. We have a clear run down to the tiny traffic island with a palm tree, where the road levels out, broadens and splits. Bus drivers attempting the journey in reverse can't have it anywhere near as easy.

The W7 is the only bus along Park Road, mopping up further passengers as it goes, although the park itself is not readily spotted behind a screen of housing. Homes along one section are enhanced by white-painted wooden balustrades in various stages of maintenance or disrepair. Hornsey's war memorial chapel sits incongruously outside the Neighbourhood Health Centre. The Princess Alexandra is proud to have been serving beer since 1896, when the first houses spread across the fields hereabouts. The shops veer increasingly upmarket as we continue - organic greengrocer, wine merchant, art gallery, chandelier boutique - and hey presto, Crouch End.

The clocktower is still draped with icicle lights, or at least it was at the weekend. A pre-Worboys sign embedded in its brickwork confirms the distance to FINSBURY PK as 1ΒΌ miles... so, halfway there. We enter another Broadway, very much the go-to-name for high streets hereabouts, where a former bank is now a Dirtyburger and the town hall is currently destined to become an arts centre stroke hotel stroke flats (although it wouldn't surprise anybody local if that fell through). The W7 has sole ownership of the bus stop outside, because it's also the only route heading for Finsbury Park and blimey hasn't it got full on board?

A mother and daughter climb upstairs, their conversation progressing from how they always say thanks to the driver to how nobody else does to numerous examples of how bloody rude today's youth can be when on board. The bus now faces another long climb to get over the final ridge, from the top of which the Shard can be clearly seen behind the central City cluster. Finally descending to railway level we pass over the top of the Parkland Walk, mostly unseen, and then the Overground at Crouch Hill station. This is not the point of departure those aboard are seeking, it appears.



This won't take long now. The London Buses' Incident Response Team, aka a man in a van, are busy replacing a broken timetable panel on Stroud Green Road. The Old Dairy is a terracotta masterpiece with seven decorative panels across its front, which alas can't be seen if you're inside with a burger and a pint watching the football. And then, because a low railway bridge prevents buses proceeding to the useful side of Finsbury Park station, the W7 twists off to unload its passengers in an inconvenient sidestreet outside a gelateria, then limps into the bus station round the corner. Muswell Hill in fifteen, anyone?


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
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