The Great Western Railway Record Run

South Devon Railway near Teignmouth in 1852

South Devon Railway near Teignmouth in 1852

After the plethora of Pellew poems I needed a break! I’m back refreshed and investigating another theme – the railway.

After the devastating storms earlier this year which destroyed sections of the seawall and caused more landslips of the cliffs onto the railway, the seawall was re-opened on August 19th. Once more we can walk along the coast from Teignmouth to Holcombe.

It is a walk which most people take for granted but of course it wouldn’t exist without the railway. The seawall and railway are an historic reminder of Brunel’s engineering genius in building the line along this section of coast. But it wasn’t just an engineering achievement, it also opened up towns like Teignmouth to a new range of Victorian visitors and tourism took off. It was a life-changing event for the town.

So has any verse been written about the railway? I’m struggling. Any contributions welcome. Betjeman, of course, wrote about Dawlish ….. but not Teignmouth.

I’m returning to Thomas Aggett, the ‘Railway Poet’ from Teignmouth. He seemed to be quite proud of the railway and wrote this piece to commemorate the record in 1904 of the longest and fastest Non-stop Railway Run, Paddington to Plymouth (245⅝ miles) in 3 hours 53⅟₂ minutes. The fastest scheduled journey now is 3 hours.

The Great Western Railway Record Run
May 9th, 1904
(Thomas Aggett)

Speed! From the West!
Steam in the service of man!
Great Western, you hold of records the best.
‘Twas work well done in a stiff contest,
Of brawny arms of a brainy clan –
A credit to every man –

Through our County of cider and cream,
Flying soft and as swift as a bat,
It shows us the triumph of steam,
And the triumph of brains over that.

More problems for us to unravel,
Dame Nature still holds in her greed,
Then where is the limit of travel,
And what is the limit of speed?

Want to know more?  Check out: South Devon Railway


One thought on “The Great Western Railway Record Run

  1. Pingback: Isambard Kingdom Brunel | Teignmouth in Verse

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