449: after an interminable train journey to Smethwick Galton Bridge (held up because of cable theft issues around Tipton), I make my way to West Cross to indulge in a ride on the 449. The route currently links West Bromwich and Brandhall, and from the Ivy Bush I can enjoy a ride down through Rood End, Langley Green, Causeway Green and Hurst Green. I might have alighted at Brandhall Interchange (by the Co-op) but I stayed on board for the loop of Brennand Road, spotting Perry Hill shops in the process. Just for reference, the 449 is set be replaced by the 49 which will be extended from Brandhall to Bearwood.
- Perry Hill Tavern -
Brandhall: it seems ages since I last photographed Brandhall, so when the 449 returns to the interchange on its way back to West Brom, I nip off and pitch into some camera action. Targets include the Kings Community Church, the afore-mentioned Co-op and the library and Labour Club as I wander up Tame Road. The Perry Hill Tavern is an intriguing pub find at the top of the hill (I reckon Mr D9 would like a visit in there) and then I can investigate the facilities available at Bleakhouse Library - if Wolverhampton is to go down the combined hub route for the future of its library services then this is a branch that could indicate possible ways forward.
- Bleakhouse Library -
446: from Bleakhouse I flag down the Diamond 446 route for a trundle out to Cape Hill, the route taking in sections of Bristnall Fields, Londonderry, Devonshire Road and Smethwick High Street. My fellow passengers were busy debating the forthcoming changes, pondering which services would be available in future to meet their travel needs - it would seem that the new 55 route will replace most of the 446 from next Sunday onwards.
- 446 at Cape Hill -
Cape Hill: alighting on Windmill Lane, I gather some fresh photos from a hunting ground that has latterly been heavily associated with the D9 adventures. Victoria Park and the Robin are familiar landmarks then I note the site of the former Windmill shopping precinct and confirm that what was the London Apprentice pub has now become the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic).
450: when I first encountered the 450 route back in 2003, it didn't enter Cape Hill as such but the current version of the route certainly does. From Messenger Road I catch the bus to Bearwood Bus Station, the route doing a little about turn by Victoria Park before passing the Barleycorn, the Bear Tavern and other Bearwood Road landmarks. The review shake-up will see the 53 service taking over, complete with an extension from Bearwood to Merry Hill via Blackheath.
- 450 at Bearwood -
Bearwood: I don't have long at the bus station before my next bus is due, but I do squeeze in a quick mooch around Lightwoods Park. The management of the park has transferred from Birmingham City Council to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and it's encouraging to hear that Lightwoods House might have a chance of some overdue restoration.
- 444 at Bearwood -
444: my final journey of the day sees me tackling all the fours in the form of a wiggly Warley workout twisting back and forth from Bearwood to West Bromwich. I catch a glimpse of Warley Woods before we venture into deepest Warley, ferreting around Norman Road, The Oval and Londonderry. There's another look at both Devonshire Road and Smethwick High Street (where the Blue Gates and the Red Fort might also be on the D9 radar) before the bus barges its way through the football traffic around Kenrick Park. Touching down unscathed in West Bromwich, I can board my Metro home and reflect on a successful mini-trip that covered some of the Sandwell services I was least familiar with.