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Yes. I remember.

Steam trains that hissed and bellowed steam.
Leather straps to open windows.
Smell of Sulphur and bits of hot coals flying through the air.

Smoke filled compartments.
Seating people facing each other and legs entwined.
Clickety clack.
The comforting sound of the wheels firmly on the track.

Train or Bus

Which transport train or bus?
Better value
Prettier route

Fields and River
Prettier route
No traffic

Fields and River
Old Station buildings
No traffic
Few people to begin

Old Station buildings
Better value
Few people to begin
Which transport train or bus?

Somewhere between Bayeux and Chartres

High hedged roads form never ending tunnels
and we’ve already settled into a cool aloofness
‘been there’, ‘seen that’, ‘done everything’
Silent weary travellers, already sated by
too much gothic, made worse by silly
squabbles over misdirections
So we ignore each other and the repetitive scenery
but turning suddenly, we stop and gaze and gasp
at a breathtaking sea of golden sunflowers,
So bright and so unexpected this far north
Our eyes lit up by wonder, we smile at them
and then at each other, our chilly world
transformed by this small miracle


Join me on a train
Over tracks that rattle and roll
yoU can see the countryside
Round every corner of the track
Near road full of cars
Eyes heavy
Shut your eyes and relax

Carols on the Train

It seemed like a great idea at the time
Singing carols whilst travelling on the train line.
The week before Christmas we arranged to meet
A carriage was kept so we all got a seat.

The 3.16 from Avonmouth departed
With thirty players and singers excited
To take part in this venture arranged so kind
By the Friends of the Severn Beach railway line.

Clarinet and sax played whilst we all sang;
Christmas songs and carols through the carriage rang.
Other passengers looked at us askance;
Did they want to join in? No chance!

All the way to Temple Meads and back
We sang till our voices started to crack.
Back at the Community Centre our spirits soared
To see hot drinks and mince pies as our reward.

Who Cares

Along the overgrown lineside strewn with brambles
Who planted the bluebells and daffodils
That now struggle to bloom?
Someone who cared.

New ground work is being done
To improve the service, but already
It’s covered in graffiti by Banksy wannabees.
Do they care?

The allotments are a jumbled mess
A haven for those who grow their own
Plots surrounded by tumbledown sheds and assorted junk
But they don’t care.

Fifty plus passengers get on at Shirehampton
Even more at Sea Mills, Clifton and Redland.
Passengers packed as ever like sardines
But who cares?

Ghost Line

We walk down Sea Mills Lane,
And hear the train’s hoarse hoot.
Already out of time
We have to run for it.

Through archways I can see
The diesel’s front flash white.
With platform reached we’re bushed —
It can’t have gone so soon?

Our presence here’s in vain
’Till someone points way back —
At Horseshoe Bend our train
Glints its own announcement.

Aboard, as if we’re regulars
We find a cushy seat,
With time to appreciate
Our odd unlikely luck.

Now our would-be Ghost Train
Feels like it’s a Special.
What if at Sneyd Park Junction
The old Port and Pier line

Took us way off course
To miss the tunnel mouth,
Where we fancy we might hear
Echoes of drills and blasts

Sound where Beaumont’s Borer
With rowdy orchestra
Riled Victorian households
On Durdham Down above?

But Clifton Station greets
And receives us gracefully.
Not like the bad old days
It was a goods yard then.

A theme pub sits there now —
But bent on pastures new
We skip the thought of beer
And run to catch the bus.

What The Sea Mill’s Train Saw

I trundle out from Temple Meads
Regeneration on one side,
Where tracks multiply.
From beneath Brunel’s arched iron girders
Evidence of time gone by,
Like old friends.

I Leave behind
The big boys
Ready to take speed
To Manchester,
Aberdeen and Leeds.

I see
Sweet smiles
Waves goodbyes.

Outward beyond the city
I am bound
Weighty winding,
My Sunday sluggishness,
Inhales and puffs out passive passengers
Who persistently pass me by.
My wheezing drowned
By Ding-Dongs;
A discordant choir;
A droning big brother voice
Warning them to be vigilant
To look around.

Onward to
Lawrence Hill
The vibe,
Tower blocks,
Artful grafitti,
Who leave their tags?
When do they come?
Like cave paintings
Done in ancient times.
The moon bright and round.

Tight packed houses
Their Dark square eyes
Stare, longingly
at me, stay behind
If only they too
Could Enjoy:
The mural
Always something
to see at
Clifton Down,
Away from the debris
scattered on banksides
Just ….thrown ….down……

A tunnel cuts through
Faulting rock,
Gives me respite,
From lackadaisical landscape
Then out into rural sounds.

Ah! Onward Sea Mills,
Distinct ,
Once Portus Abonae
History deep beneath
Soft silt clay
Upon which Redshanks,
Lapwings and Gulls
Play on mud mounds,
Where small boats rest aground.

Awa-Yamakawa Station

Yes, I remember Yamakawa
The town, caressed by river
And mountain. The express-train snaked there
Through the valley, in the August heat.

The conductor, in white gloves, bowed.
A businessman, standing up, leaning, dozed.
Students in sailor-dress, gawped
At shimmering phones bedecked in dangling soft toys.

Doors slid ajar. I was beckoned
From the cool of the carriage by a chorus
Of cicadas, singing from rice paddies.
Perspiring, I heard the New World Symphony
Telling the town “Time to go home”.*

*The town’s loud speakers played music at 7am, 12.30pm and 6pm every day. The 6pm music for a few months was the famous Dvorak’s New World Symphony Largo, known as “Going Home” popularised in the UK in the Hovis advert!

Severn Beach

Take the toy train – get your ticket
from the lady with the hand-crank,
journey through tunnels, industrial wastes –
then your window scene will open out.

You’ll see shaggy serviceable ponies
from the gypsy camp, cropping close
by the track, knee deep in weeds,
shaking their blunt heads, ignoring you.

An unprepossessing place:
desolate sewage-works kind of place,
a beach of broken rubble, a concrete promenade.

Also some water – always at low tide
when I go – and bushes in the mist
pregnant with blackberries.

A friendly place: one winter morning
I bought a mince pie – on leaving, the baker
poured half dozen more into a bag for me
to eat on the way home.

Don’t forget the stupefying sight
of the Severn Bridge, built by giants,
it’s lines of traffic moving without pause
like coloured beads on an infinite string.

When I walk here at the end of the world
a curious thought always rises in my mind:
no one would ever find me here.

Making Tracks

On these lines run my trains of thought,
lured by the far-off promise of unfolding hills,
sidelined at times to picturesque diversionary routes,
undeterred the journey’s end is not defined,
distracted by oncoming images too fleet to grasp –
unbidden memories recur, recur, recur
like telegraphic wires that rise and fall in slowly looping arcs
until at small unscheduled halts they slow, and stop;
then I must summon up the effort to resume.
On these lines run my trains of thought, for good or ill,
and you may read between them as you will.


At its base they visited swimming pools, boating lakes on hols.
High seas of waves and floods deep brown, changes. Rabbits died;
the curve now forces back the wet and now they bob again.

We travel on to industry, cement and smoke and village;
they gather in community – boats in, sailors visit. 

To work, they go from the next stop on:
eyes down, no time for sky.
On mill land now they journey on
and more travel now for money.

The tunnel wollops – bish, bash, bosh.
‘Oh no nothing to see’. 
Junior says ‘night night mama’
til we arrive where they serve tea. 

Sixpence is what she used to pay
but me? Two pounds and ten.
In the palm the babe gets 50p.
I hope we come again. 


The train that runs from Temple Meads
down to Severn beach.
A hundred years it’s worn its way 
on lines of steel and wooded sleepers.
Steaming first, with diesel later.
Then the hum of Alternator.
With a rhythmic clang and screech, 
I remember Severn Beach
The train that wends its weary way
from Avonmouth to Severn Beach.
A signalman with blackened face,
a yellow box with rows of handles,
gleaming in the harsh daylight.
Then the gates drop out of reach.
I remember Severn beach.

I remember Severn Beach: 
the Blue Lagoon the boating lake,
the candy floss the hoop-la stall.
Best of all, as I recall, of all my memories,
the train ride down, the train ride back,
riding on that railway track.