BRANCH LINE MEMORIES
by The Linesman
(The author of this poem has strong associations with Broughton crossing on the Cheddington to Aylesbury railway, the first
branch line to be built off a main line in England. It is a lament for the loss of the old High Street station in Aylesbury.)
They closed the crossing gates for the seventeen
As she fast approached Broughton from Cheddington,
I sat on the gates and watched with my dad
And moved to the engine driven like mad,
As steam and smoke wreathed the track she sped down,
Carried on her way to Aylesbury town.
She didn't stay long, there wasn't the need
And soon returned my proud iron steed;
And I'd be there; As reward for my wait
Driver-knight, would wave to me on the gate.
Now the steed, the knight, the track are no more,
No longer heard is the steam whistle's roar,
No more can I sit and watch from the gate,
No more rewarded, a boy's patient wait;
There are no sleepers on track now to see
And no L.M.S. station in Aylesbury.
(Below follow two contributions from local poet Chris Cornwell)
To many just a route from A to B
But a prized length of line to you and me,
A thousand miles walked in my career
Track maintenance going on all through the year.
Round every curve I know what is there
I know every sleeper each fishplate and chair,
Rabbit warrens, robin's nest I know
And the culvert where wild orchids grow.
The thud of my hammer replacing a key
Little sound save the wind in the trees,
Crunching the ballast beneath my boots
'Til disturbed by the Railcar's blatant hoot.
Sunday's sparse service allows gangs of men
To repair and improve the line I tend,
Yet for Monday's routine I secretly long
To exchange men's chatter for birds sweet song.
WALKING OLD RAILWAY LINES
Was the early morning mist really steam
And a chugging tractor the train?
Shadows of navvies in the hedgerows loomed
Wittingly assailing the brain.
The Station once busy lies derelict
Back to nature it slowly creeps.
Only ghosts wait in the Waiting Room
Old sleepers deeply sleep.
Striding viaducts remain in situ
Despite the crumbling spans.
The landscape survives intact
Decades since trains ran.
Peeping through the brambles
A mileage post still stands,
Defying all attempts of removal
Escaping collector's hands.
The course of a disused railway
Can linger as a scar on the country's face,
Or succumb to roads and housing estates
Vanishing without a trace.
Some old lines are official footpaths
Have picnic areas, tarmac and signs,
But they sadly lack the magic of
Exploring abandoned lines.