Wednesday 14 February 2024

Trouble Travelling To Thamesmead (3)

 1970 London Bus Map

Mike Harris' repro London Bus Map for 1970 shows almost nothing for Thamesmead. Regular service 229 passed by and 171A terminated at Abbey Wood garage. 

Those who first arrived in late 1968 would be faced with a long walk to a bus!

The 171A ran all the way from Tottenham and served the Abbey Wood estate - not quite Thamesmead, yet. The helpful Sunday timetable (c/o Ian Armstrong) ...

... offered a bus every 14 to 20 minutes, so, as ever for London, really customer friendly - NOT. But at least residents of the estate could get a bus all the way to central London which they cannot do today.

The 229 appeared in 1951 but eight years later Abbey Wood appeared in the route description but not the timetable. By 1970 the full route became Orpington to Woolwich ...

... again calling at Abbey Wood garage; but with a typically complex operating pattern.
It is only recently that London Buses have insisted on running ALL buses from outer terminus to outer terminus. One of the 229's many, many destinations was our old friend Green Street Green of i.e.tram 358 fame - one day - possibly!
There is still a 229 today which runs from Orpington! but instead of Woolwich, terminates at Thamesmead town centre.

For a while the 229 was part of the Bexleybus "company", an attempt by London buses to inject more local identity into their often impenetrable mixture of services. It's a model from EFE.

Another "oddity" from the not too distant past was Harris Bus, operating the 180 ...
... back then running from Lewisham to "Thamesmead East" but later extended to Belvedere. It now runs from North Greenwich to Erith.

Harris Bus was established in October 1986 as bus and coach operator in Grays. In 1997 it diversified, operating routes under contract to London Regional Transport winning tenders to operate routes 108, 128, 129, 132, 150 and 180.

In December 1999, Harris Bus was placed in administration with its London services taken over by London Regional Transport's East Thames Buses subsidiary.

Lewisham Link and Eltham Link liveries ...

... have a distinct flavour of the Bus Beautifier from the Bush - very Stenningesque.

2024 Network

But let us go back to today's Thamesmead network. With genuine respect for Mike Harris and his excellent cartography, the bus network is baffling in the extreme. Like many parts of London, routes have been started, finished, diverted, shortened or extended in what seems a very haphazard fashion.

The keen student of all things London may better iundrerastand things by reducing the network to a few manageable chunks.

The obvious biggie is the routes using the Thamesmead North Bentham Road and Crossway loop. Here they are in 2010 on a London Buses "spider" map.

Not all those lines make it to the "official" town centre stop which isn't much of a town centre, more an operationally convenient place to terminate a bus!
The few big shops (Morrison, Lidl and other retail park "favourites") are best reached from stops on the main through road named Central Way.
The stops are hardly overflowing with convenience for omnibus using shoppers; the motor car is king!
The next area is Thamesmead East.
This block includes Abbey Wood station now with the added delight of the Elizabeth Line line. The old station, which ably matches the brutalist concreteness of much of the early Thamesmead, is on the east side of the over bridge ...
... whilst the new building is on the opposite side of the road.
Finally we go to Thamesmead West.
Here we find Belmarsh Prison and routes to Woolwich and Greenwich plus stops at Plumstead station. The station building is quite sweet, but rather lost in a complex road system.
A tasteful and subtle sign guides passengers from train or bus to the shops.

But Thamesmead takes a whole lot of fathoming. And without a detailed map most visitors and newcomers will struggle. fbb has struggled; and really needs to delve deeper into the history - BUT ...

And that 2010 "spider" map. Don't bother to search for an up to date version, dear reader, because ...

... there ain't none! London Buses do not want you to know where the buses run in Thamesmead!

As part of this posting, fbb was eager to inform his readers that there has been no through bus from Thamesmead to central London for ages and ages. But he failed to remember the N1.

Robert Munster provides us with a timetable ...
... every 30 mins from midnight to 0430.

There is no bus service to London at any other time. It is a long way and folk can use the much more expensive National Rail service or the Purple one.

In tomorrow's blog, however, we shall meet a brand new express route to the estate.

P.S. It's arriving today? (a parcel for fbb not the new bus service!)

 Next Thamesmead Troubles blog : Thurs 15th Feb 

1 comment:

  1. When Superloop is completed, will the new SL* routes connect either side of the Woolwich Ferry to complete the orbital circuit (with the free ferry plugging the eastern gap)?