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Route 8
6 July 2010

The 8 is quite a well-known London route, with a well-established eastern terminus in the Old Ford area, buses running through the West End up to Willesden and, at one time, on to Blackbird Cross near Kingsbury. The route was one of several split in two in the 'Catch the Central Changes' of 18 July 1992, being diverted over route 25 to Victoria. Although billed as a scheme to improve reliability, in practice it was more to do with ending the joint operation of such long routes by different divisions of London Buses in the run-up to privatisation.

Traditionally the route was operated from garages at both ends at Clay Hall (near Old Ford) and Willesden. Clay Lane garage closed in 1961 with the 8 allocation transferred into Bow garage, a former trolleybus depot, nearby but on the wrong side of a low bridge in Fairfield Road. This necessitated a convulated routeing when the route was extended there extension in the early 1980s, with buses running via the East Cross Route and approaching Bow garage from the south, doing almost a complete circuit in the process.

The route was further curtailed to Oxford Circus from 27 June 2009, route C2 replacing the section to Victoria albeit via a slightly different routeing. This change was intended partly to reduce the number of buses in Oxford Street, although how much it actually helps is questionable given that buses still use the most congested part of Oxford Street (the western approach to Oxford Circus) to turn around.

These days the route is run by standard Stagecoach issue Tridents, though they have all been repainted into allover red East London livery since Stagecoach sold the company. The first view shows 18202 (LX04 FWM) just setting off from its home garage on 1 August 2009 and (as seems to have been quite a common theme on here lately!) actually heading directly away from its destination. Having already turn left from Fairfield Road the bus will turn left again onto East Cross Route and left a third time onto Tredegar Road, before picking up the traditional route from Old Ford.

Photo © Stephen Gillett.

To the left of the bus is Bow Church (not the one famous for its bells, as I erroneously stated earlier; that is St. Mary-le-Bow, off Cheapside also served by the 8, coincidentally). The church in Bow is located between the two directions of the road, and a better view of the building, from the other carriageway, is provided in the second shot as sister vehicle 18207 (LX04 FWT) approaches its final stop on 15 May 2010. The blinds do not appear to fit the blind box very well.

Photo © Mark Adoko.

As mentioned above, buses proceed from here to Old Ford, and then follow Roman Road into Shoreditch. This was the original road built by the Romans leading to Colchester, and crossed the river Lea by means of a ford, before continuing via Stratford, Ilford, Romford, Brentwood and Chelmsford (these are their modern names obviously, and not all were settlements at the time!). The characteristic straightness of this route can readily be discerned on a map. Some time later, a bridge was built to cross the Lea farther south. I am informed that this early bridge was shaped like an archer's bow, and hence called the "Bow Bridge." As it was then easier (and drier) to use the bridge, this soon became the main route, and the "old ford" became redundant but the name lives on!

Bow garage has an allocation of Scania OmniCity double deckers for route 205, this being the new standard double deck type thus far since East London was sold to Macquarie. These sometimes stray onto the 8, as exemplified by 15107 (LX09 FZD) seen at Holborn Circus heading into town on Friday 5 February 2010.

Photo © Brian Creasey.

Numerically78 (Watford)
See also routes 25, C2, 106

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