Saturday, 21 November 2015
Adventures on the Harpenden and St Albans buses (321 and 355)
I have many fond memories of travelling on the 321 bus between St Albans and Harpenden. After Dad died we didn't have (couldn't afford) a car so the bus was our main means of transport. The shops in Harpenden were quite limited, especially for families like us where money was tight so the trip to St Albans market was a regular event. One time I remember really well was when I had a hospital appointment at the St Albans Hospital (Mid Herts Wing). We wanted to travel from Harpenden to St Albans between 8 and 9 in the morning but the busses had loads of school children going to the secondary schools. We had to wait quite a long time before there was a bus with any space for us.
A few years later, after Mum had died as well and I was in foster care in St Albans, I did some trips between St Albans and Harpenden on the 355 route. This was when I was going to see a young lady friend who lived in Batford. Her Dad worked at the same small engineering works that I did and for some reason he thought that I would be a good influence of her. Sheila was her name and although we became quite good friends for almost a year it was only a friendship - nothing more. There was nothing romantic in our relationship.
Sheila's Mother was very strange. She didn't like me or trust me not to get her daughter into trouble so she used to chaperone us all the time. When the dog wanted a walk she wouldn't leave us alone in the house so we had to go with her. We used to cross over the little bridge at the bottom of Crabtree Lane (where the ford was, and still is?). We would walk up the hill, along Grasmere Avenue, down Granby Avenue then along Marquis Lane to cross over the road bridge over the River Lea. I still remember it quite well. Some the houses we passed were quite posh and it all seemed like a different world to the Batford Council Estate that was just a few hundred yards away.
The 355 was always a single decker bus because of the low bridge where the railway crossed over Station Road. Sometimes it was almost full and sometimes almost empty for reasons that were never obvious to a youngster like me.
In the end Sheila's Dad changed jobs and I felt safe to end a relationship that was never going anywhere. It was done properly - face-to-face and not by email or text like youngsters seem to do now.