diamond geezer

 Sunday, February 25, 2024

Route SL3: Thamesmead - Bromley North
Length of journey: 14 miles, 75 minutes


SPOD CLUB MEET-UP
Location: Thamesmead Town Centre
Date: Saturday 24th February 2024
Time: 10:30am
Purpose: To ride the SL3!!!!!
In attendance: BusTokker09, Ian, Jings, Markie, Rizzo, Tim
Apologies: Colin
It's not every day another Superloop bus launches so the whole gang rendezvoused in Thamesmead to ride the full length to Bromley. Spods assemble! Most of the crew arrived by Lizzie line to Abbey Wood - top training! - so got a sneak preview of the SL3 there. Markie said he'd be coming direct by DLR but that's not been built yet so in the end his Dad had to drive him. It was cool to meet up again because it's been all of three weeks since we rode the Enviro200s on the SL5 to Croydon. Jings was wearing his three Superloop badges he got last time. Tim had his staff pass ready. Tokker's phone was fully charged.



Thamesmead's an odd place because you can't see the Thames, not from a bus anyway. Instead the route starts near a clocktower, a library and some shops. I noted that something electrical by the shelter had been burnt to a charred stump. A lot of sad families kept turning up with bags from Morrisons, although it turned out they only wanted the slow buses so we never saw them again. I was excited to see a 16-reg Enviro400H on route 177 parked opposite because you don't get much Stagecoach in my neck of the woods. According to the SL3 timetable the full journey to Bromley takes only 46 minutes, but that sounded well fictional.

We were surprised to see so many old men gathered to ride the new route. Bus crewing is normally a young person's thing but they were standing round like they'd all done this 'first day' thing before. Some had big cameras, timetable printouts and actual notebooks to write in - proper old school. One grey-haired bloke spent all his time moaning about the Countdown display in the shelter refreshing too slowly, even though it was operating perfectly normally. If you'd used your phone like a normal person, grandad, you wouldn't have had that problem. According to the official in the tabard, one bus had already broken down this morning and some buses were being turned early due to roadworks. Jings tried to get another badge off him but apparently he didn't have any.



When LT 132 arrived from Bromley - nice wrap! - an opposing crew leapt off and started filming. "I hope you're not camera shy!" said the ringleader as he stepped out in front of the bus. Then he put his phone down on a little tripod in the road and continued the recording. The driver gave a big thumbs up before manoeuvring off, but he had to do this very carefully to avoid running anyone over. Thankfully the other crew held off boarding because they must have realised they weren't going to get the top seat. Instead Tokker ran upstairs and grabbed it, sticking his phone to the front window with blutak. Then Ian attached his GoPro alongside... I can't wait to watch both videos in full later.

Hurrah, we were now off on the big ride! One day this'll be the start of the whole loop via Heathrow and Harrow but until next week you can only get as far as Walthamstow. The crew are deffo going to do the full circuit but not until the school holidays, obvs. It was annoying when an incoming SL3 passed us on a roundabout because we couldn't get a decent photo. I don't know who Harold Wilson was but one of the council blocks in Thamesmead is named after him. It was amazing to see white blossom spreading all along the Southern Outfall Sewer and it's only February. I also loved watching two geese swooping low over Southmere, but I didn't tell Markie because he only sees beauty in buses.



Stop number three, which came pretty damned quick, was on the flyover opposite Abbey Wood station. We'd been here earlier and what's appalling is that neither of the stops up here have SL3 timetables, indeed the southbound stop doesn't have any timetables at all! Also the only spider maps on display are very faded printouts dated 2020, i.e. totally out of date, unless you happen to spot the brand new map up the road facing the station, behind the Jehovah's Witnesses. Three lads rode by on a horse and cart which Rizzo tells me is pretty normal for Thamesmead. There was still frost on the grass below Lesnes Abbey Woods. Colin Whatsapped to apologise for not being here, he got his dates mixed up and went to North Woolwich instead.

The obvious way ahead would be up Knee Hill but TfL have never managed to get a route up there so the SL3 climbs New Road instead. It looked well muddy in those woods. The next stop was over two miles away because this bus does some mighty leaps, but several men with giant lenses were still poised to take photos of us as we passed. This next bit was like a proper residential labyrinth, it went on and on. Tim used the time to record a quick short of the iBus display as it switched to an asterisk and back again. Amazingly nobody wanted to get on or off the bus at Bexleyheath station so we sped straight past. But then we got caught in a long queue trying to turn left out of Avenue Road into the Broadway - five minutes! - which annoyed Tokker because even at double speed that's well tedious.



Not until the third stop in Bexleyheath, outside the library, did we pick up any more passengers. Some of them were clutching paper handouts - a throwback for the non-digital generation. Jings doesn't like the route diagram, he says it fails to show how clustered many of the stops are in real life, but Rizzo says anyone who can't be bothered to download an app deserves to be confused. But the clustering's also clever because it means the driver doesn't have to take any particular route between Bexleyheath and Sidcup, they can go whichever way has the least traffic. Today that freedom proved particularly pertinent...

It's the SL3's bad luck to launch midway through six weeks of roadworks by the Blendon roundabout. Tim said northbound buses were speeding down the A2 to avoid it, but annoyingly we weren't doing that because I'd love to see a NB4L get up to 50. Instead we diverted east to Bexley - actual Bexley village! - just like the slowcoaches on the bogstandard 269s. Tokker was well annoyed because it meant what he was recording wasn't even the normal route, plus our hairpin wiggle took a full 15 minutes. Tim said an excitable roadside granny should put her cameraphone down because the novelty white bus wouldn't be stopping anywhere near where she lived. By the time we reached Sidcup station we'd had our full 46 minute allocation and were only just over halfway. The shelter's Superloop roundel topper was fully illuminated and it wasn't even dark.



A small child bounded up to the top deck telling her Dad "the nice man gave me a badge", so Jings shot her a sideways look. The smell of Lynx Africa heralded the arrival of fellow obsessives Mason and KJ to the top deck. They sat further back and did impressions of door opening sounds on various operators' vehicles. "Do you remember Blue Triangle?" asked KJ. "I love the noise that handbrake release makes," said Mason. "They keep putting Enviros on the 144 but Geminis suit it better," said KJ and Mason agreed. Mason got halfway through explaining why Red Rose drivers were awful - something to do with always having headphones in - before KJ interrupted by exclaiming "That Arriva bus has got the old logo!" We left Mason and KJ well alone.

From Sidcup onwards the SL3 felt more like a proper limited-stop bus and less like being on a suburban safari. Some bits were fast, past old half-timbered pubs Ian's parents would probably like. Other bits were less fast, like queueing to get past Chislehurst war memorial because it's Saturday. One of the elderly passengers - she must have been at least 40 - was incredibly excited to see Superloop badges being given out by Chislehurst station, then felt sad because she wouldn't be getting one. KJ and Mason took the opportunity to alight here and catch a train to Grove Park... and would be hiding in the toilet if the ticket inspector turned up, if their final conversation was anything to go by.



Oh joy, more temporary traffic lights. A water main burst near the station midweek so a tiny patch of roadworks was generating extensive queues. Markie had become much less excited at the prospect of riding the Superloop all the way round than he had been when we started. Thankfully we slipped through the lights much faster than those heading east, and then we were into some suburb called Bickley. Lucky locals now have an express bus to the shops, although given the gap between services there's no guarantee it'll be worth waiting for. Jings bolted early because it looked the pink-haired tabard lady had a stack of badges as yet undistributed.

A very helpful bus lane helped speed us into Bromley. The next two stops were very close together, one either side of the ring road, but most passengers waited for the second outside the shops. One particularly well-fed family waddled swiftly downstairs, straight across the road and in through the doors of Nando's. Only the spods were left for the last run up to Bromley North station because not everyone thinks it's important to be completist. Tokker waited until everyone else had alighted before finally pressing stop on his video, the timestamp now showing a full hour and a quarter. Rizzo followed, returning his GoPro to his Regatta rucksack, and then we all walked down to the bus stand to take another albumful of photos.



"Look," said Ian, "the first stop for the SL3 is right next to the first stop for the SL5... shall we?" We didn't, partly because we were zonked after our long slog on the SL3 and partly because there were some much more interesting Streetlites and single door Enviro200s to investigate instead. But Spod Club will most definitely reassemble in North Woolwich next Saturday when the SL2 launches and the Superloop is complete. We Whatsapped Colin to remind him to be there.

Route SL3: route map
Route SL3: live route map
Route SL3: route consultation
Route SL3: timetable


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
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 

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
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
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
2023 2022
2021 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
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

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
boredom
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
iceland

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
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv