Oral history workshop

Fig. 1: Rail enthusiasts special train at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station in the 1950’s. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre

The Beast: A poem by Kath Bartholomew.

Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central Station, known locally as Greenwood Drive station, was on the Mansfield Railway and saw regular passenger services between Mansfield Central and Nottingham Victoria for just short of forty years (1917-1955).

The station remained opened for goods trains along with summer excursion trains until the mid 1960’s. The Mansfield line closed to freight, along with the Great Central main line, in early September 1966.

Locally the station is best known for winning the best kept railway station in Britain award with its lovely flower beds. They were attended to by Mr Brownlow, the station-master, who lost an arm in the Second World War.

Kath Bartholomew’s evocative poem recalls Mr Brownlow and the beautiful flower-beds, which remained years after the station and railway closed until the station area was redeveloped as New Line Road in the 1980’s.

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Fig. 2: Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station sign in the 1950’s. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre

Telewag poles count by hoards of penny daisies.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

White leaf spikes, sunny centres, beautiful, beautiful.

Splendid yellow lively circles,

Iron, wet, and wood hard and strong.

As we go along.

Long journey, lupins flash

Dark pink and several shades of blue.

Tall and straight, tall and straight;

Erect on sloping sides of shiny track

Marking quick time.

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Fig. 3: Mr Brownlow, station master at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre

Left over from bygone days

Of the one arm station master

Who gardened and guarded

In between a train to Nottingham, Matlock or Hither Green.

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Fig 3: Flyers for Excursion trains calling at Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station. Photo Credit – Graham Upchurch collection

He kept the banks so pruned and pretty that everyone felt proud

Of him,

and his station

won the prize

That has never died

For still the penny daisies.

Lupin’s, gorse and heather take you for a ride.

Yellow, white and blue, yellow, white and the lupins hue.

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Fig 4: Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station with its flowers beds in the 1950’s. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre.

We can see the old platform, as the train is announced

The station welcomes you

Yellow broom and penny daisies and the lupins too.

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Fig 5: Passenger train entering Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central station in the 1950’s. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre

The passengers stand and hold tight,

Still they all fall forward as the beast lunges in with all its might…

Bringing us home at last,

To the best kept railway station,

Without the station master, and the smoke…that’s past

But still the whistle blows…

Off she goes, wherever she goes,

Going by the penny daisies, the gorse, heather and lupins too.


Kath Bartholomew

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Fig 6: Kath Bartholomew reading The Beast at the Steaming Back to Kirkby project Finale event on 3rd December 2022. Photo Credit – David Amos

Posted by SB2K Admin

6th February 2023