Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Adelstrop

Somewhere under this disused railway station in Bath, a massive steam-train rusts away, lying on it's side in the dark.

The Somerset and Dorset line which terminated here was axed by Beeching in a shocking act of corporate vandalism, and now the terminus is used as a car-park. On the last sunday of every month, it is also used as a flea-market, which is what you can see going on in this photo. Spot the 'No Smoking' sign (s) in the foreground. You wouldn't want smoke in a railway station, would you?

The line was created by Brunel, and went all the way down to the south coast. Some small stretches of it have been reinstated by rail nutters who run little steam-locamotives up and down them - arguing constantly about who is going to drive, or even who is going to be allowed on the footplate.

Criss-crossing the various highways and byways along it's route, numerous features of the old line sporadically appear - a massive stretch of steep embankment, now used as a cycle path; a crumbling, brick-built viaduct with ivy hanging from it's walls, spanning a little section of valley road with an ancient castle nearby.

Ok, I know it is a different line, but I found myself in Adelstrop once, on a sleepy and hot summer afternoon, and I remembered the poem below by Edward Thomas - well, parts of it anyway. The end of steam and the end of the line makes this poem even more evocative.

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—

the name, because one afternoon

of heat the express-train drew up there

unwontedly. It was late June.



The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

No one left and no one came.

On the bare platform, what I saw

was Adlestrop—only the name.



And willows, willow-herb, and grass,

and meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,

no whit less still and lonely fair

than the high cloudlets in the sky.



And for that minute a blackbird sang

close by, and round him, mistier,

farther and farther, all the birds

of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.


14 comments:

  1. Reminds me of Brighton's Victorian station. Why is it disused? Don't tell me they built a nice new one in the 60's!

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    1. It is difficult to drive a train in or out of it these days, due to the line being ripped up by that chap Beeching, as I mentioned at the top of the page.

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    2. Oh, I suppose I should mention that we still have one station left (Bristol to Paddington line) just in case you were worried.

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  2. ADELSTROP
    sounds vaguely Yorkshire-ish

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    1. It does, doesn't it? But it's in Oxfordshire, on the Gloucestershire border. A tiny hamlet, really, but many little places were served with railways up until whenever the Ministry of Transport started to fuck up Britain.

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    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book

      The above Wiki says that it was called Titlestrop, Edestrop and Tedestrop in former times, so I am still none the wiser...

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  3. Beautiful building.

    I suppose you have to count your blessings that the structure is still there at all. So much of our national rail heritage has been knocked down to make way for another fooking Asda (or Waitrose for JG)...

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    1. Sainsbury is at the end of this station...

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  4. Wonderful poem. Every year I take my 3 grandchildren on a train trip because it is so special. I always worry they will disappear. (The trains, not the kids)

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  5. That's a lovely poem Tom. My (maternal) grandfather was a train driver...he'd be really sad to see all the disused lines today, I'm sure. One of my go-to movies when I'm feeling nostalgic for England is The Railway Children. A bit sappy, but it evokes (for me anyway) a romantic memory of riding the train from Southampton to London.

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    1. I don't thin I have ever seen that film - should I? Really?

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  6. One of my favourite poems Tom because of its timelessness.

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    1. Yes, Weaver - like 'The Naming of Parts', it is timeless even though that time has gone forever.

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