The Pines Express

‘1095’ Manchester to Bournemouth ~ The Pines Express

Down from Manchester and Northern places
Buckets, spades and packed suitcases
Arrive at Green Park, just before 3
Out with the sandwiches and flasks of tea
We’re off to the seaside, Mum, Dad and me…

Uncouple the tired loco the thing to do
A change of crew and engine too
Engine needs coal, and crew need a rest
For a return trip home …to be at their best
We’re off to the seaside, for a deserved rest…

The clock ticks, to 5 past 3 and we’re all set to go
The Guard checks the doors, his whistle he blows…
Slowly at first over points the train finds its way
Passing engines lined up, some to go later, some to stay
We’re off to the seaside, on this fine summer’s day…

We bear to the left past Bath Junction ‘box
Catching single-line tablet, safe passage it locks
Two engines up front and twelve coaches behind
The curves are sharp and the gradient’s steep.
We’re off to the seaside, our train seems to creep…

Over Bellotts Road bridge we continue to climb
Below are two tracks we cross the main line
Green engines passing always on time
God’s Wonderful Railway in all its prime
We’re off to the seaside, on this single-line…

Past the old Twerton brickfields there on the right
We pass under Claude Avenue the gap is so tight
Still climbing at 1 in 50, be it day, be it night
Both engines are putting up such a brave fight
We’re off to the seaside, nesting birds fly in fright…

This track is well used with trains passing both ways
Coal for the Co-op left in the siding, is delivered most days
Enough to fire the ovens to bake our daily breads
The track still rises before us like two silver threads
We’re off to the seaside, Bournemouth bay like the Med…

Town houses pass to our left, pre-fabs neatly to our right
Climbing, climbing on we go, passing under Maple Grove
Couplings straining up Devonshire bank
Single bore tunnel approaches, dark and dank.
We’re off to the seaside, hoping enough water’s in the tank…

Smoke and Steam engulf the cab
Driver and Fireman …wet cloths they grab
Tunnel roof a foot above the train
Heat and smoke cause their lungs to pain
We’re off to the seaside, control of the engine is such a strain…

Suddenly we burst out into the Vale
Smoke then clears, and both breathe well
Over Watery Bottom, along the ridge
Still up 1 in 50 under Moger’s Bridge
We’re off to the seaside, bright sunlight we see…

But Combe Down Tunnel is approaching fast
This one’s not straight, five times longer than the last
Longest tunnel without a ‘vent, sides so close and roof so low
Described as hell up in the cab, oft referred to as Dante’s inferno
We’re off to the seaside, close all the windows, keep out the smoke…

We reach the summit part way through
Gradient 1 in 100 down such a relief to the crew
Two engines up top, and twelve coaches at the tail
Welcome daylight greets us in Horsecombe Vale
We’re off to the seaside, it’s daylight again and we’ve lost the smell…

Coming fast Midford Distant signal calls us on
8 arches of Tucking Mill viaduct we pass along
Passing Midford Castle high on the right
Designed and built for a Gambler not for a Knight!
We’re off to the seaside, glad the weather’s so bright

Midford goods yard seen there on the right
We thread thro’ Long Arch tunnel, oh so tight
Midford Station cut into the bank so sheer
The single line tablet we must give up here.
We’re off to the seaside, but can’t stop for a beer?

With the Hope & Anchor Pub just down below
Next station stop along the line is scenic Wellow.
We greet the start of the double track
We pick up pace there’s no holding back…
We’re off to the seaside, is there anything we forgot to pack?

Reverse curves a plenty as on we go
Past Padlynch Farm and Lower Twinhoe.
Follow the course of the old canal below
Before the railway it carried stone and coal
We’re off to the seaside, still a long way to go

At Shoscombe & Single Hill our train doesn’t stop
Past Writhlington sidings to Radstock we drop
Jinties are busy around Radstock shed
Thirty empty coal wagons with a 7F at the head
We’re off to the seaside, a long climb ahead

Over Level Crossing and Five Arches we pass
Again up 1 in 50 the engines stick to their task
Climbing to Mid-Norton, and on through Chilcompton
Still climbing to Masbury, 811 feet above the sea
We’re off to the seaside, we are full of glee

It’s now twenty miles we’ve travelled from Bath
Windsor Hill Tunnel forms part of our path
Downhill to Shepton it’s time for a stop
It’s time for a tea, do you fancy a drop?
We’re off to the seaside, and we’re well on our way

Evercreech New and onto the Junction
The Station Hotel that’s held many a function
Hurry past Cole and over the Western main line
Through Wincanton to Templecombe Upper we climb
We’re off to the seaside, and we’re half way there

Past Henstridge and Stalbridge and Blandford we go
Two engines up front and twelve packed coaches in tow
Passing Sturminster, Shillingstone and Spetisbury
Thro’ Corfe Mullen Junction we go very slow
We’re off to the seaside, the whistle does blow

We are all very excited, we can smell the sea air
The sun is still shining and the forecast is set fair
After Seventy-two miles we pull into Bournemouth West
4.46 pm – The coaches have emptied and the crews need a rest
We’re off to the seaside, safe journey – we’re blessed

Pine trees and gardens, golden sands and the pier
First let’s find our digs, and then buy some beer
Back at the station the engines are replenished
‘1095’ on the route-board, and the crews have had their rest,
We’re at the Seaside, and we’ve travelled – The Pines Express!

David Bishop

The above photograph shows a 2P loco, double-headed with a re-built West Country class loco hauling a southbound Pines Express having just gained the double track south of Midford station.  Although the leading engine does not have the Pines Express headboard, it does have the 1095 route-board, as featured in the poem.

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