On the Top Deck Three

A long long day followed by a short Parallel Lines-y link-y post.

Down to Brissol today to record voice links for the Radio Four doco ‘On The Top Deck’, which goes out at 11am on Wednesday 21st of January. Emerging from the studio on Whiteladies Road, I remembered that I’d been here before, in May 2006, to do the breakfast show on BBC Radio Bristol. I was there on behalf of The Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways,  talking about a protest ride and fare strike we were to take on the immensly wonderful Severn Beach Line. This mildly anarchistic jaunt was followed by a fund-raising showing of The Titfield Thunderbolt hosted by me in a hall in Avonmouth, and then by an evening spent in the pub condemning the New Party’s public transport policies. What nicer way to spend a day?

With an hour to spare, I decided to have another ride on the Severn Beach line. Although I had to wait half an hour for the train at Clifton Down station today, the wait was welcome; it’s nobbut a step from several rather lovely cafes; and there’s an Oxfam bookshop a five minute walk away.

The run from Clifton Down to Temple Meads is a top ride, passing through funky Redland and high on viaducts across a  landscape of allotments. In the other direction, the run out to Severn Beach is very different; estaurine, spine tinglingly industrial and almost half forgotten, with a spectacular view of the Severn crossings at the end. Next time you’re in Bristol with a couple of hours to spare, I really urge you to ride this railway.

6 Responses

  1. henry says:

    hello, reading your book at the minute. have you seen this little film about the tal-y-llyn?: http://www.archive.org/details/railway_with_a_heart_of_gold_1965

  2. Lonesomedepot says:

    Ah, the great Addiscombe -Elmers End line – all three stations’ worth of it. Once upon a time I used to travel to work via the middle link in the triumvirate, Woodside Station, catching the decrepit two-coach ‘train’ and changing at Elmers End. My dad plied that same route for many years (and probably has all sorts of tales to tell). In retrospect it’s hard to believe the line lasted as long as it did.
    One day I’ll recount my stories of travelling to school from Bingham Road to Selsdon, but that’s for another day.
    BTW, thanks for the nice Redlands-related words, Ageing Hipster. I was/am that pedal steel player.

  3. Dan says:

    I think I have been to Walthamstow Queens Road, but can’t recall the scenic highlights now. I’m sure there were some though.

    I once recall (in the 1980s) having to walk from East Croydon stn to Addiscombe in order to take a train to the remote sounding Elmers End – it seemed very forgotten then, and line is closed now – although I think it is probably served by tram – and may be much busier.

    Here’s a distracting link (I expect you know it…):

  4. Ian Marchant says:

    My favourite London urban branch line is the one from Gospel Oak to Barking… well worth a ride.

  5. Dan says:

    Umm – the urban branch line! Sounds like a nice scenic journey. I used to think North London Line was a bit like this (but less scenic) – but since it appeared on the London Underground type maps millions of people must know it exists (back in the days before Macca highlighted it with Give my Regards to Broad Street it seemed very much forgotten). Your description reminds me of the journey from Ipswish to Felixstowe which is rather pleasant.

  6. ageing hipster says:

    Jeez, that Redlands Palomino clip is really something isn’t ? What a band… sometimes I think there’s just too much talent around… if I played just once in a band that sounded like that, I’d die a happy man.

    Actually, I believe I played with that very fine pedal steeler at an impromptu gig at the start of 2008. Afterwards, I just wanted to make a speech somewhat like that made by ‘our Katie’ Winslet at the Golden Globes, such had been the depth of my inadequacy. He was terribly nice about it though…

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