With over 700 bus routes across the Transport for London (TfL) bus network, it’s unsurprising that there are a few which venture into the city’s rural surroundings.
There’s one which ends rather abruptly though. If you head to Romford to catch one of the nine buses per day on route 375, you’ll be forgiven if you don’t quite know where the final destination specifically is.
It’s a place called ‘Passingford Bridge’, not big enough to be a village, it’s a bridge, a roundabout and a workshop which recycles and sells wood.
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The exact reason the bus route would even serve such a location is one out of operational convenience rather than an urgent need to give some fields in Essex a bus service.
Passingford Bridge is just over two miles north from the boundary between Greater London and Essex, along the B175 road.
(Image: David Howard / CC)
The road leading up to the boundary forms most of the village of Havering-atte-Bower, which as you would expect from its name is wholly within the London Borough of Havering so needs a bus service.
The ‘problem’ is that there is nowhere for a bus to turn around near the boundary. A bus cannot usually perform a U-turn in the middle of a road and there are no obvious sets of side streets the bus could use to turn around.
The cost of building a bus turning circle along the road would be around half a million pounds and disrupt the road for weeks during construction.
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As a result, the next best thing is for the bus to continue along the road to the roundabout at Passingford Bridge.
This leads to the odd situation that if a passenger alights here, because it is so rural, they could only easily walk around the roundabout, to the wood recycling workshop or to the bridge and that’s it.
The pavement only extends that far because the surrounding roads are so lightly populated. To the north, a series of non-paved footpaths through fields in the neighbouring hamlet of Stapleford Tawney provide a walking route to the Epping Forest or to Ongar, once the start of the Central line.
(Image: Arriva436 / CC)
The 375 is now the only bus route to serve this part of Essex. Until August, there was a daily non-TfL bus route (575) which also ran through the hamlet on its journey between Harlow and Romford.
It seems hard to believe now, but for decades buses ran through Passingford Bridge regularly. Prior to July 2008, the hourly Essex bus route 500 gave the hamlet a link to the Central line at Epping.
Passingford Bridge’s bus service might not be the most bizarre thing about it though. Reportedly the hamlet was named ‘Pissingford’ for 600 years due to urine in the present-day River Roding which flows underneath the bridge, either due to effluent from the former watermill dropping directly into the river there or simply a medieval habit of giving place names which sound like bodily functions where one could do such a function, such as ‘Schyteburglane’ in Romford (likely to be Brook Road or somewhere near Marshalls Park now).
There are no public toilets in Passingford Bridge.
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Have you ever taken the 375 all the way out to Passingford Bridge? Tell us in the comments below!
You can read all of MyLondon’s bus-related news stories, features and trivia pieces on our dedicated page here.