The Severn Beach Line

How hard its band of fans have fought
To keep the line to Severn Beach
That runs from Bristol Temple Meads.
How doggedly did they beseech
The councillors and fat controllers,
The bureaucrats and city rollers

That trains should never cease to serve
The stations on this unique line
That runs through cuttings deep and long
Past houses mean and mansions fine
That soars on arches over town
And plunges dark 'neath Clifton Down

That carries hundreds ev'ry day
To work, to school, to see the sights
Young mothers with their shopping bags
Who trail their kids like satellites
Publishers and old professors
Filing clerks and men's hairdressers

Commuters on the way to Bath,
Cyclists starting their day's outing,
Texting girls and blazered pupils,
Tilers with a tub of grouting
All use this rattling diesel train
That shuttles up and down again

Through Lawrence Hill on busy lines
Then branching off on single track
Past builders' yards and junior schools
Allotments green and terrace backs
Stapleton Road, Montpelier
Redland and its station atelier

Where craftsmen work with cloth and wood
Restoring chesterfields and chairs
In the waiting room and office
Where once the porter had his lair
All station buildings have been changed
Their purposes quite rearranged

On to Clifton and the tunnel
One mile through Bristol's rock and clay
Emerging blinking by the Avon
This route now travelled ev'ry day
Close by Sea Mills it spans the stream
Once port for a Roman quinquereme

Next stop is "Shire' ", then Avonmouth
A faded, sometimes lonely place
Where the yellow smoke from smelters
No longer leaves its grimy trace
Where turbines turn slow in the breeze
And the cars unshipped are Japanese

St. Andrews Road is optional
O'er-topped by crumbling gaunt decay
Who would ask the train to stop here
Amongst this dank, concrete array?
Let's hurry to the end of the line
And the terminus, which once stood fine.

Severn Beach, Bristol's own Blackpool,
That's what they said in days gone by,
When the trippers came from Birmingham
To the Blue Lagoon 'neath open sky
Where bathing beauties smiled and twirled
In a golden age and a different world

written by David C Johnson © November 2009