The Number 51 Route

Thursday 1 August 2019
Linda being in Northern California, I was on my own for this very SE London pair of buses. The 51 starts from Orpington Station, and repeats my previous route (the 208, by the way) under the railway bridge, past the war memorial and along the High Street. So we passed my previous bus as it rested in Perry Hall Street, before turning left to Carlton Parade.  I noticed that a party shop could not survive here, but as we turned left towards St Paul's Cray, I admired the topiary in a paving centre courtyard.

 At first there was a narrow cycle lane sharing the road with the cars, but then it moved away, which was a good idea.  The traffic along here, including my bus, is rather nippy.  We did not turn in to St Mary Cray Station, but drove past a number of semis with hardened front gardens, and a former pub which is now a Macdonald's Drive-Thru.

For a while we were the only bus serving this area, but as we went under the A20 and into Bexley, we were joined by some others.  I admired the plasterwork oak tree on the side of a house, and wondered if it had once been a pub, but the interweb is silent on the matter.

Heading left up Sidcup Hill, brought us into Sidcup itself, where I noted a Solicitor claiming to be a specialist in what was euphemistically called 'driving matters', separated from other criminal defence work in his window. As in so many of these suburbs, the High Street was full of charity shops and bookies, but also three National Banks had branches here.  The streets were also embellished with banners celebrating famous people of Sidcup. They include Rose Bruford, of Drama College note, the founder of Macmillan Cancer Support and someone who went with, and died with, Captain Scott.  You can see them all here.
The route heads down the hill to pass the station, and then passes Ye Olde Black Horse Pub to move back into residential areas.  We did rather a nippy right into a broad street, with no-one wanting to get off as we came to a green space called The Oval, which is in Blackfen.
This road is signed as part of the London Cycling Network, but the blue signs are all there is.  Imagine if all there was to a motorway through route was a sign....
The next place you come to on this route is Welling, and I liked the label on the (former) library, rebranding it a 'workary'. 
We then had a couple of minutes to change drivers, before passing Welling Station and heading under the railway bridge to reach more residential streets.  Our new driver activated the recording which announced 'this bus is ready to depart' at every single stop.  I found this unnecessary, but it's his business, and his scrambled brain.
We turned right to go along Edison Road, and saw that the Glenmore Arms Pub has been 'acquired for luxury apartments'.
After weaving through some narrow residential streets, with parking permitted on the footway, we came into Slade, passing Winn Common which rapidly became Plumstead Common. The terraces along here were built in the 1890s.
There were a couple of interesting buildings here:  a huge clock tower, which just seemed to be above a carpet shop and an Indian restaurant, and then the Ship Pub, which  has built a Sports Bar extension.  Lots of Plumstead Common was visible, which was enjoyable, as we headed into Woolwich.

The terraces here are older than the ones we had been passing, and we had time to enjoy them, as some extended roads works (purpose not announced) slowed us through the one way system.

 And, really quite soon, we were able to turn left  towards the centre, over the railway, where a number of building sites seem not to have progressed since we were last here.  The delays to the Elizabeth Line cannot be helping housing developments whose USP was brilliant travel into London. The last business to catch my eye before my journey terminated, was offering transfers of all kinds to Nigeria.  And so we arrived, at 12.22, conveniently close to Woolwich Arsenal Station for those of us, well me, who like to use the Thameslink back to St Pancras.

The Number 51 Route