diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 18, 2017

 Route 387: Little Heath - Barking Reach
 outer London east; 8 miles, 40 minutes

Welcome aboard the bus you can no longer ride. The 387 used to exist until yesterday, or more accurately until the last vehicle rolled into Barking Reach just after midnight. As of five o'clock this morning the bus is now known as the EL3 - and the former route number exists in limbo until some other bus route one day wants it.

A quick geography: We're out east, in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham. The 387's route runs almost due south, from almost the A12 to almost the Thames, via Barking.
A quick history: The 387 first ran in 1993 to replace the B1, part of a short-lived Barking-centred local network. At its southern end it serves the Thames View Estate, with peak hour extensions round the industrial estate at Creekmouth cut back in 2013.
A quick rationale: EL stands for East London Transit, a bus upgrade scheme introduced in 2010 to better serve an isolated community with considerable potential for growth. Until yesterday there were two routes - EL1 and EL2. Today there are three.
A quick future: Apart from one tweak in central Barking, the EL3's route is identical to that of the 387, but will extend this autumn to an as-yet unbuilt secondary school on the Barking Riverside development.

Little Heath is a little known residential corner one mile east of Newbury Park, once a tiny hamlet, now conveniently bypassed by a busy dual carriageway. The 387 starts its journey outside a closed pub, formerly The Hawbush, facing out across a decent-sized triangular green. But you wouldn't have known. When I made my journey earlier this week the timetable at the first bus stop had been changed over prematurely to that of the EL3, and the tile above gleamed freshly white. There was no danger here of being late for Saturday's rebrand, just unnecessarily early.

A number of buses visit Little Heath because it has a hospital, in fact it has two, one with a lofty Victorian water tower visible from some distance. The bus's first stop involves driving into the grounds of the King George's Hospital and negotiating the central turning circle, avoiding the cars of visitors too hurried to park where they're supposed to. By starting near a hospital the 387 already has a decent number of passengers, a state which increases because this is the only route heading south along Barley Lane. The houses to either side aren't the council homes found further out in B&D, but smarter villas from a time when this was the edge of the London conurbation, with Avenues, Drives and Gardens behind.

In the recreation ground by the High Road, a row of pigeons lines up along the top of a mucky bench, holding court over a large congregation of their fellows. Here the bus crosses into a bustling parade, past a giant Tesco that hasn't yet sucked out all the street's life. Many of the shops have fairly generic names, like Pharmacy, News or Food Store, perhaps enhanced by flags to suggest a more specialist offering within. This is Goodmayes, where a stacked blue portakabin outside the station heralds the not-yet imminent arrival of step-free Crossrail. Thousands live hereabouts but somehow I've never dropped in before, which is one of the serendipitous effects of taking a near-extinct bus journey.

Across Green Lane, past the millennial clocktower, another string of housing awaits. Older terraces merge into low-slung bungalows and then council pebbledash, with a sign up one sideroad pointing to the local Temple should fresh worshippers need to find their way. At Goodmayes Park we turn right onto the main road, now one of a number of buses on this key route. One of these is the EL2, providing an unnecessarily good combined frequency to the Thames View Estate, as the freshly minted EL3 tile makes clear. Just past the bus garage the turreted Royal Oak pub signals its preferred clientele with a surfeit of St George's Cross bunting, and a bus lane then speeds us towards the place most passengers actually want to go, which is Barking.

Along with every other numbered bus route, the 387 isn't allowed through the centre of Barking town centre so has to negotiate its way round slower peripheral streets. That's why most people get off outside the station, because it's at least a couple of minutes to the stop more convenient for the shops. The bus meanders past pre-redevelopment rubble, the edge of the market and a medieval abbey, because this town's mixed like that. And I note that somebody's already removed (and not replaced) the 387's tile and timetable, again unhelpfully prematurely, because it won't be coming this way soon. Once promoted to the title EL3 it'll be allowed through Barking's streamlined central shortcut along with the EL1 and EL2, because these are bus route royalty round here, and now there are three.

That's the only tweak to the 387's route this weekend, and past Lidl we're back on the direct line down Ripple Road. On the first bend another pub lies as rubble, now covered in withered buddleia, knocked down before plans for its rebirth were fully thought through. All the EL buses turn right into Movers Lane and queue to cross the busy A13, sometimes queueing for quite a while. It's this which makes the Thames View Estate feel quite so far away, despite the flood of high frequency buses that stream towards it. "Motorway!" exclaims the young child sitting with his mother on the top deck, then (rightly) queries why on earth the next miserable-looking stop is called something 'Gardens'.

We've reached the netherworld beyond the A13, originally marshland, then somewhere to hide a cluster of mucky estuarine industries. Homes came later, and the EL1 and EL2 swing off to service those, while the 387 continues down increasingly ill-kept roads past cash and carries, timberyards, metalworks and waste transfer stations. At Keirbeck Wharf I'm amazed to spot 'The Men Who Change The Bus Tiles Over', their white van parked up by the next stop, doors flapped open revealing a host of bus stop-related equipment inside. Every bus stop tile up to this point has read EL3, and every tile from this point on will read 387, which is correct but imminently endangered.

For its last hurrah the 387 turns back to serve Thames Road, a dated chain of warehouses and depots on some of the cheapest land in London. UPS, TNT and DHL have delivery centres here, alongside charismatic churches, skip hire firms, builders merchants, cheap fry-up cafes, haulage concerns, white van depots, frozen food wholesalers, forklift traders and the Lithuanian Beer company. Later in the year the EL3 will skip this section, prioritising newly-built homes on the Barking Riverside estate instead, but a new bridge has to be built first and that's not ready, so for now Thames Road is fully served.

Two peak time services in the 387's timetable used to be extended round the most miserable streets in east London to serve Creekmouth, where Barking's original power station once stood, and on which site this enormous housing development is being built. Londonist's Will Noble visited a couple of weeks ago with a camera, and his detailed report will give you an appropriate flavour of this unnervingly downbeat location. But with most of the local industry defunct, those peak time journeys ceased in 2013, and the 387 nudged into the estate instead, terminating on a loop by a lake beneath some pylons. Here residents queue to escape, which this morning they'll be doing by EL3, and they might even have some New Routemasters to ride in too.

» route 387 - EL3 consultation
» route 387 - route history
» route 387 - The Ladies Who Bus

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
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

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards