Iowemma: Canto I


AT the head of Douglas harbour
Stands the Douglas Railway Station
In its late-Victorian splendour,
Red of brick, with iron railings,
With its forecourt and verandah,
Offices and flights of stone steps.
Scene of hour by hour departures,
Scene of hour by hour arrivals.
In the centre of the building,
In the middle of the out wall,
By the doorway wide and open
Leading to the Booking Office
With its little ticket windows
And the ticket clerks behind them;
Ticket windows bearing legends,
Names of destinations distant.
To the northward there is Ramsey;
To the west St. Johns and Holme; Peel;
There’s a branch line up to Foxdale
Nestling in the hills and slag heaps.
To the southward Castletown and
The twin ports, Erin, St Mary.
There is yet another doorway
Leading to the station platforms.
To the covered station platforms.
Two there be, one on the left hand
Where there leave the trains for southward,
Where arrive the trains from southward.
One there is upon the right hand
Where there leave the trains for westward,
And the trains that go to Ramsey;
Where arrive the trains from northward
And the trains that come from Holm Peel.
Very empty is the station,
And infrequent are the runnings
Since the advent of the buses,
Since the coming of the coaches.
People living in the country
Now are picked up on their doorsteps,
Do not have to walk a furlong,
Do not have to reach a station,
As where there were no stage-coaches.
Very crowded then the station,
Very busy then the porters,
And the other train officials
Right up to the station-master.
But those days have gone for ever,
Gone with all the trams and trolleys
And the other little railways
That were once familiar features
Of the Head or of Port Soderick,
Of the Marine Drive and Groudle.
Still the Manx Electric Railway
Skirts the coast from Douglas northward,
With a branch line climbing Snaefell,
Climbing up to lordly Snaefell,
Monarch of the Mannin Mountains,
In a kind of spiral necklace.
Now the Isle of Man Steam Railway,
Which is nicknamed Iowemma,
Is with this the only railway:
Soon they’ll finish altogether
For the want of needful money,
And the quaint electric tramcars
Soon will disappear for ever;
And the tiny locomotives,
Tiny Iowemma engines,
Will be scrapped, much to our sorrow,
For their red and green and brass work
Is a feature of the landscape,
When they thread the double hedges
Of hawthorn that flank the one track.