Great bus journeys of the world: the 471 & 472

Continuing to explore Greater Liverpool – on the bus.

I was nearly a Twirly this morning.

Sarah’s left the house very early to run a funeral service and so I’m up and around early too. Ready for something that might be a ‘Great bus journey’ and a ‘Friday Walk’ combined.

Just in time I remember that I can’t use my bus pass before 9:30. Thus avoiding the indignity of waving it at the driver pleading ‘Am I too early?’ Or as we all interpret that here in Liverpool, ‘Am a Twirly!’

So, dignity just about intact, I get on the first bus I can to the City centre.
So, dignity just about intact, I get on the first bus I can to the City centre.

Where the shopping streets are still waking up.
Where the shopping streets are still waking up.
Beautiful buildings around where I'm going for my next bus. This was once a branch of the Bank of England.
Beautiful buildings around where I’m going for my next bus. This was once a branch of the Bank of England.

Imagine being so important to the bank and insurance businesses that a branch of that would be situated here.

This, opposite, was also a bank, though no longer.
This, opposite, was also a bank, though no longer.
And most special of all, centre-left, is 16 Cook Street.
And most special of all, centre-left, is 16 Cook Street.

This is by Peter Ellis, most celebrated for Oriel Chambers and considered by the likes of Quentin Hughes and Nikolaus Pevsner to be one of the finest, though least celebrated architects of the early to mid-nineteenth century. (Peter Ellis also designed and lived in 78 Canning Street and 40 Falkner Square in Liverpool 8, the first two buildings I worked in for Liverpool Housing Trust.)

But anyway, we haven't got time to stand around talking about architecture. There's a bus to catch.
But anyway, we haven’t got time to stand around talking about architecture. There’s a bus to catch.
And here it is.
And here it is.

Though by the time I get on it’s changed its number to the 471.

With only a slight variation in their routes they both go over there. Yes, to the Wirral.
With only a slight variation in their routes they both go to the same place over there. Yes, to the Wirral.
We're off. Cook Street to Victoria Street.
We’re off. Cook Street to Victoria Street.
Round into Sir Thomas Street.
Round into Sir Thomas Street.

I could have got on here but, of course, wanted to make sure I got the front seat upstairs. Because somewhere very special’s coming up.

No not Whitechapel, no offence.
No not Whitechapel, no offence.
Not even the Museum and the Library.
Not even the Museum and the Library.
For the first time in my life I'm going, on a bus, through here.
For the first time in my life I’m going, on a bus, through here.
The Mersey Tunnel.
The Mersey Tunnel.

We’re in the middle lane too. Buses can’t use the side lanes, obviously!

Down we go.
Down we go.
Ghost reflection in the Tunnel.
Ghost reflection in the Tunnel.
Past one of the refuge places. Been in there.
Past one of the refuge places. Been in there.
All too soon, out the other side.
All too soon, out the other side.
Wonder of wonders. Liverpool person makes it to the Wirral, on a bus.
Wonder of wonders. Liverpool person makes it to the Wirral, on a bus.

Nearly as miraculous as my guide for how to get here by car for Liverpool people a while back.

The bus does a sharp left turn and exits towards Hamilton Square.
The bus does a sharp left turn and exits towards Hamilton Square.
Though we don't go into the Square itself.
Though we don’t go into the Square itself.
Stopping at Birkenhead Bus Station.
Stopping at Birkenhead Bus Station.
Past Birkenhead Market.
Past Birkenhead Market.

Another time I’ll get off and have a look around. But today I want to get to our destination before the promised deluge sweeps in.

Crossing the end of Oxton Road.
Crossing the end of Oxton Road.
Along Whetstone Lane.
Along Whetstone Lane.
Past Birkenhead Library.
Past Birkenhead Library.

Again, needs to be seen one day.

Up into Prenton.
Up into Prenton.
Crossing the middle of the Peninsula.
Crossing the middle of the Peninsula.
Under the railway and across the Motorway.
Under the railway and across the Motorway.

I notice the passing funeral cars here. We’re close to Landican Crematorium, where Sarah will have just finished her service.

Looking across the fields towards Landican.
Looking across the fields towards Landican.
Nearly at the Arrowe Park junction.
Nearly at the Arrowe Park junction.

I remember coming to Arrowe Park as a child and finding a huge parkland. Then coming back in more recent years bemused to find, though still large, so much of it given over to a golf course and a hospital.

The bus makes a slight detour to the hospital.
The bus makes a slight detour to the hospital.
Then it's past Landican.
Then it’s past Landican.
To the Thingwall Road junction.
To the Thingwall Road junction.

Yes ‘Thingwall’ – it’s a splendid Norse word, meaning ‘Assembly Field’. (Much more on Wirral’s Viking connections from Gerry Cordon here on That’s How The Light Gets In.)

Through Downtown Irby.
Through Downtown Irby.

We’re very close to the Shining Shore here. But that’s for a nicer day. As you can probably see, it’s raining now.

Along Quarry Road East affluence is breaking out.
Along Quarry Road East affluence is breaking out.
Not every road has its own Lawn Tennis Club.
Not every road has its own Lawn Tennis Club.

I don’t get off.

Anyway, we're near our journey's end. Heswall.
Anyway, we’re near our journey’s end, Heswall.

A place I’ve never spent much time in, which is why I’ve come for a look around.

Bidding a fond farewell to the 471.
Bidding a fond farewell to the 471.

Which you’ll notice has ‘Electric hybrid power’ and wi-fi. And there have I been, sitting at the front taking photos like it’s an ordinary bus.

So, Heswall, what have you got?

Well, Valentine's Day for a kick-off. But that needn't detain us.
Well, Valentine’s Day for a kick-off. But that needn’t detain us.
Much more interesting is Gould's.
Much more interesting is Gould’s.

As independent as you like. Been here 110 years selling a splendid mixture of musical instruments, stationery, cards, arts and crafts materials, toys and maps. How about that?

The choice of maps suggesting the good people of Heswall don't, perhaps holiday in caravans at Talacre.
The choice of maps suggesting the good people of Heswall don’t, perhaps holiday in caravans at Talacre.

Next, it’s Linghams.

Again, independent and proudly 'Bookseller of the Year, 2013'.
Again, independent and proudly ‘Bookseller of the Year, 2013’.

As well as being a great bookshop, they’ve also got a café at the back called ‘Toast’. So I go and have some, together with a cup of tea. While the grandparents around me read timeless classics to their enthralled charges. A place where, I’d guess, The Tiger is always coming for tea and the Wild Things are always running amok. Heart-twistingly charming.

They're good on books for adults too!
They’re good on books for adults too.

Leaving for a general look around I find what everyone must always find in Heswall. That’s a seriously major road running through the middle there, that you don’t easily criss-cross as the fancy takes you.

I also find Heswall got a bit of a seeing to in the 1960s.

Here's the library and, oh no, 'One stop shop'.
Here’s the library and, oh no, ‘One stop shop’.

I loathe that phrase. It’s also been slapped onto several Liverpool libraries too. Books being replaced by ‘Council Services’.

But at least the library is here and open.
But at least the library is here and open.

And whilst there were a number of people browsing its shelves, there was no one in the bit they’ve cleared out for the ‘One Stop Shop’. Good.

There's this interesting and unexplained bit of old outside the library. But as I say, it's unexplained.
There’s this interesting and unexplained bit of old outside the library. But as I say, it’s unexplained.
Next door is Heswall Hall. From the windows I'm guessing it's by the same architect as the library.
Next door is Heswall Hall. From the windows I’m guessing it’s by the same architect as the library.
And opposite, on the other side of the permanent traffic jam, another piece of 1960s.
And opposite, on the other side of the permanent traffic jam, this other piece of 1960s.

Feeling in need of some air and inspiration I head out of the town Centre.

And between the houses, down the hill, spy something wonderful.
And between the houses, down the hill, spy something wonderful.
As the pub says, It's the Dee.
As the pub says, It’s the Dee. The coast of Wales just visible through the clouds and rain.
Finding the War Memorial I pause, I always do.
Finding the War Memorial I pause, like I always do.

Now it’s all a hundred years ago there’s been talk, these past few weeks that all these people died for nothing. That what we now call the First World War was a gross mistake we needn’t have had any part in. Intellectually maybe so, maybe that could eventually be said about most wars. But today, like always, I stand here with tears in my eyes, simply grateful for what they did with what they knew, terribly sorry they died doing it. Thank you Smith, F. Smith, G. Smith, J. Smith, J… All of you.

Next to the Memorial is a steep little park tempting me down to the Estuary.
Next to the Memorial is a steep little park tempting me down to the Estuary.
So I follow this path down the side of it, sure I'll eventually get there.
So I follow this path down the side of it, sure I’ll eventually get there.

But at this point, the rain that’s been falling heavily and steadily all the time I’ve been in Heswall, turns into bitterly cold sideways hailstones. Enough. The Estuary can wait.

Back up on Telegraph Road my bus is arriving.
Back up on Telegraph Road my bus is arriving.

They’re always arriving. One or other of the 471 or 472 every 10 minutes for most of most days (timetables and maps here). A fantastic service.

(And I realise I’m biased because all of this travel today is costing me nothing other than a life’s work and taxes. But what if we could make public transport of this quality cheaper and more accessible for everyone? Do you think we might start to end the car devotion, the one person per vehicle, that’s a permanent feature of this road, like so many others?)

This is the 472. So back through Pensby, rather than coming through Irby on the 471. Not that you can see it!
This is the 472. So back through Pensby, rather than coming through Irby on the 471. Not that you can see it!
Then back through the Tunnel.
Then back through the Tunnel.
To home.
To home.
That was a treat.
That was a treat.

And next Great Bus Journey? Who knows. I’ve hardly started yet!

See all of the ‘Great bus journeys of the world’ here.

10 Replies to “Great bus journeys of the world: the 471 & 472”

  1. We both seem to have ventured out on great Wirral journeys this week, Ronnie. Pity you got beaten by this dreadful weather, but thanks for an engrossing account.

  2. Ron, Cook st. right in middle of shot was the old Joe Lyons tea room, I spent many a time in there.

    You’ve brought many memories, even the bus OVER THE WATER I used to catch when my wife was in Clatterbridge.

  3. Not only am I loving your blogs, but I send them to my sister Ronny in San Clemente California and Pat in Cornwall. Ronny emailed this :-
    Cath, I absolutely LOVE these! It was just like a trip home, made me misty eyed seeing ‘Liverpool’ on the front of a bus. I enjoyed the ‘trip’.

    Thanks so much, Cathy ?

    1. Thank you all 3 sisters Cathy, Ronny and Pat. Look forward to hearing from you all as I continue walking and riding around Liverpool. Hope you’ve found all the walks i’ve done? Let me know which part of liverpool you’re from and I’ll go and have a look at how it’s doing for you!

  4. Hi Ronnie, we first lived at 66a Smithdown Road, over a Sayers shop. We had to access the back door up an entry in Greenleaf St.
    The block of shops is the only one knocked down in that bit of Smithdown!
    We went to St Hugh’s school, Ron and Pat were in the “tin school” part after age 11, but we moved to South Highville Rd Childwall, when I was 5, so I only did the reception class.
    We’re all loving your blogs! X

      1. How spooky is that! The bit of grass where you took your picture of the Christmas tree, was the block of shops we lived over and the tree is standing roughly where our back kitchen would have been! Fantastic.

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