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Bus tours in general (London)
Member Name: caro
Bus tours in general (London)
Date: 18/01/01, updated on 19/02/01 (101 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap, comfortable in bad weather
Disadvantages: No commentary
THE NUMBER 10 offers a route from Archway in North London to Hammersmith in the West. The section from King’s Cross to Kensington is particularly interesting.
From the stops opposite King’s Cross station, take the number 10 westbound. Make sure to sit on the top deck if possible (the very front seats are the best!). The extravagant red building on your right is the Victorian St Pancras Station. The building itself used to be one of London’s most luxurious hotels until it became uneconomical to run and was closed in the 1930s. It became used as office buildings and is known as St Pancras Chambers; empty for some years, since it failed to meet Health & Safety regulations, there are now plans to redevelop it, with part becoming a hotel once more. The main downstairs rooms are open to the public.
Next on your right is the British Library. This is not the most attractive building from outside, but lovely inside. The shop, café and exhibitions are open to the public although the library reading rooms are open to researchers only. Some exhibitions are free.
Euston Station is a little further down on the right. It’s now an unattractive sixties building, but you can see two original lodges at the bus entrance. The reason there are so many stations along this road is that it marked the most southern point railways from the north were allowed to go in the city.
The bus will turn left down Gower Street past the University College London buildings. Note the many blue plaques down this street. At the end, you turn right (noting the umbrella shop i
n front of you) into Oxford Street. Get off just before the bus turns if you want to visit the British Museum, which is on the road to the left (Great Russell Street). To your left after the Centrepoint office block is Charing Cross Road, famous for its bookshops.
You are now travelling down Oxford Street. You will go past the street’s famous department stores, including Selfridges, until you reach Marble Arch at the end. On your right for some time now is Hyde Park. When you see Harvey Nichols on your left, you have reached Knightsbridge (Harrods is on the road to your left just past Harvey Nichols). A little later, the Royal Albert Hall is on your left and the Albert Memorial (recently cleaned and restored) on your right. If you want to visit the Kensington museums (Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum), you can get off here and they are a short walk down the road on your left.
The bus continues down to Kensington High Street, and on your right you will see Holland Park and the Commonwealth Institute. There are usually free exhibitions to visit at the Commonwealth Institute.
THE NUMBER 11 goes from Fulham Broadway in the West to Liverpool Street Station in the East. I concentrate on the section between Liverpool Street and Westminster, although it’s worth carrying on past Victoria to Chelsea for the shopping.
Starting in the east, at Liverpool Street Station, you will travel first of all through the City of London (the ‘square mile). This is the financial heart of the capital city, and you will see a huge range of architecture in a short space of time. Most of it postdates the Great Fire of London in 1666, and all periods from that date are covered. At Bank, you are by the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England (get off to visit the Bank of England museum, which is free and more interesting than you might expect).
You will continue on past the f
amous St Paul’s Cathedral. The current cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren to replace the earlier building destroyed in the Great Fire. Its landmark dome is actually in effect false: a dome that shape would not be able to support the stone structure on top of it. Wren therefore built a strong brick cone, concealed by the outer dome. Another, smaller dome was built within it, creating the interior dome with its Whispering Gallery.
A little further along is the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) – you might just catch a glimpse of it. If you have the time, you can queue for the public galleries to watch a case in progress.
You then continue along Fleet Street, which used to be the heart of England’s newspaper industry. You can still see traces of this in the buildings to your right. On your left is the heart of legal London: Inner and Middle Temple, two of the four Inns of Court to which all barristers belong. They are reached through the pathways to the left. As you come to the end of Fleet Street, the Royal Courts of Justice are on your right. This cathedral-like nineteenth- century building houses the High Court and Court of Appeal: you will have seen its front steps many times on news broadcasts.
You have now left the City of London. Aldwych is to your right: the rather grand building is Bush House, holding the Australian embassy. To your left is King’s College, part of the University of London.
You are now travelling along the Strand, the south boundary of Theatreland. On your left, you will pass the Savoy Hotel as well as the Savoy Theatre built to house productions of Gilbert & Sullivan. There are other theatres on your right, and Covent Garden is just a very short walk away.
After Charing Cross Station is Trafalgar Square, famous for its lions, fountains and Nelson’s Column. On the right is the National Gallery: entrance is free. Leicester Square is out
of sight immediately behind it. At the building’s right end is the beginning of Charing Cross Road with its many bookshops.
You then continue along Whitehall (passing various government buildings, the Cenotaph, and the entrance to Downing Street) to Westminster, where you will see the Houses of Parliament. (Big Ben is not in fact the famous clock but the bell within it). The present buildings date from the nineteenth century: most of the earlier buildings burned down in 1834, although fragments remain. Also on Parliament Square is Westminster Abbey, famous in particular for the people buried in there, for example in Poets’ Corner.
There is a tube station at Westminster, or you can walk down the side of the Houses of Parliament to the River Thames.
These are ideas for just two of London’s bus routes. Many more routes travel through areas of interest – try http://www.londontransport.co.uk for full information on other bus routes.
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