Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Age Of Steam


The news spread over the countryside
As a clatter from iron rails,
The ominous sound of clacketty-clack
From their intersecting trails,
The plodding Goods of the 0-4-0
To the proud Express from Cheam,
It muttered as it was going past,
‘They’re going to get rid of Steam! ’

The sudden shock brought an answering hoot
From the stack of the proud Express,
That whispered by on its 4-6-2
But shuddered to draw its breath.
‘And what will they pull their Pullmans with? ’
As it passed through an April shower,
A 4-6-0 on another track:
‘They’re moving to diesel power! ’

The steam from the Earl of Erin laid
A trail through the valley floor,
Its coals glowed red from the firebox grid
As the fireman shovelled more,
A Day Excursion that quietly sat
To wait for the train to pass,
Had whispered, ‘Sorry to see you go,
You’re King of the Master Class.’

The smoke that billowed from out the stack
Had turned from white to black,
The footplate shuddered, the furnace roared
As it raced along the track,
‘They say they’re moving to diesel power
And they’re getting rid of steam, ’
The Earl of Erin had hurtled by
As a Tank Engine had screamed!

The driver, checking the frantic pace
Was trying to slow it down,
But nothing worked, not even the brakes,
‘We’re headed for Hampton Town!
We shouldn’t be doing sixty-five
We’re twenty over the top,
He slammed the door of the firebox shut
And the fireman’s shovel dropped.

The tender’s couplings opened up
And the Pullmans fell away,
The Earl of Erin had surged ahead
With a new found power that day,
It passed a struggling 0-4-0
As it headed toward the sea,
Gave one long blast on its whistle then
To say, ‘I’m finally free! ’

The fireman jumped at the water tower,
The glass was going down,
The driver jumped when it hurtled through
The Halt at Hampton Town,
The Earl of Erin went racing on
When the sea came into view,
But locked the brakes at the water’s edge
Just as the boiler blew.

The Earl of Erin’s a rusted wreck
That still sits there on the line,
And children crawl on its footplate there
And dream of another time,
A time of dragons, a time of trains
A time they can only dream,
The age of romance, gone at last,
It died with the age of steam!

27 February 2014

Submitted: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Edited: Thursday, March 13, 2014

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