Iowemma: Canto II

 

Let me tell you of the engines,
Of the sixteen little engines,
Very shiny in their green paint,
Very striking in their scarlet.
Polished brass adorns the smoke-stack,
And the domes that stride the boiler
Like fat jockeys on green horses.
Long and slender are their smoke-stacks,
Bearing polished metal numbers
From the unit up to one-six,
From the first one up to sixteen.
Let me tell you of the engines.
Sutherland the first of all is,
Number One of all the engines,
Named in honour of the patron
Duke of Sutherland, shareholder,
In the early days of railways
Helped the birth of Iowemma.
Number One the very engine
That did draw the first contingent
All the way to Peel from Douglas
To the sound of many trumpets,
And lowing of the cattle
Watching from their railside pastures.
Number Two was christened likewise
With the name of a shareholder;
Derby is the name of this one
Spelled in letters on the side tanks,
Spelled in letters neat and polished;
This the same in every detail
With the one already mentioned.
Now completing the first trio,
Pender, Number Three, must follow;
Pender of the speed excessive,
Pender of the perky buffers,
Pender who rammed hard a snowdrift
Not once, not twice, but thrice did she,
Till she cleared a way right through it,
Through the snowdrift on the railway.
These are Iowemma’s triplets,
These are Iowemma’s first-born.
Number Four is Loch, and engine
Destined to be slow and awkward;
Named in honour of a Governor,
Governor Loch of Ellan Vannin,
Who did also give his surname
To a promenade in Douglas.
Though in fairness to this engine
I must say that faulty mem’ry
May have given this reputation,
And a prejudice unfounded
May have dubbed it slow and awkward;
For I sat upon a bridge wall
Once upon a time and saw her
Straining painfully to manage
Up the gradient to Soderick
Almost puffing to a standstill.
Number Five was christened Mona
And she was my favourite engine.
Often in the days of summer
When on holiday from schooling,
When on holiday at Oakhill,
When I heard the engine whistle
I would run to see the engine
With its train of coaches passing
Very swiftly to the southward,
Always on the route to southward,
Never on the route to westward.
Ever on the route to westward,
Never on the route to southward,
Was the engine known as Peveril,
Number Six among the engines.
She to me seemed proud and haughty,
Queening it upon the railway
With a majesty uncalled for,
As her route lay to the westward
It was flat, required no effort
Like to that upon the southward,
Which was full of testing gradients.
So we come to Number Seven,
Carrying the name of Tynwald.
When I saw it first its smoke-stack
Faced the wrong way round to my mind;
Faced the inward way to Douglas,
While the others faced the outward.
I was young, uncomprehending
That an engine could be swivelled
At St. John’s on the turntable;
Though it was not thought essential
So to turn these locomotives,
As they found it just as easy
Backward travelling as forward,
Going cab-first just as easy
As with smoke-stack leading onward.
Number Eight was sweet Fenella,
Twin of Number Nine, the Douglas.
Interesting to remember
Peveril, Tynwald and Fenella
Are, with Douglas, names of steamers:
Mona, too. These hard-worked Manx names
Are applied to public houses
And to clubs and places also.
Numbers eight and nine were stronger
Than the ones that went before them,
And most modern on the station
Till there came the first of several
Much more powerful than the others,
But with much the same appearance,
Bogey at the front, and four wheels
That were driven by the pistons;
Only that the tanks were bigger,
Larger too the shiny boiler,
And the cylinders much larger.
Number Ten the first of these was,
Bearing on her flank the legend,
C.H.Wood, a rail official;
As the next, Number Eleven,
Bore as her crest the name of Maitland.
Huthinson completes the dozen;
While the bearer of the number
Deemed by some to be unlucky
(I allude of course to thirteen)
Is the famous name of Kissack.
These complete a quartet mighty
That negotiate the gradients
On the heavy road to southward,
On the testing track to southward,
More especially to Santon
Where they reach the highest summit.
Number Fourteen is and engine
Reconditioned from an old one,
One time on the Northern Railway
Ran as Number Four, called Thornhill,
But an engine not so powerful,
More in keeping with the Pender,
Or the feeble Loch or Derby.
Now a change in basic pattern
As we come to Number Fifteen;
Long and squat, the “German” engine,
Bogey none, six wheels for driving,
And a cab of squarish contour.
Though her name is Caledonia
She was called the German engine
Since the Fourteen – Eighteen Great War
When the Camp was at Knockaloe
For the interned German aliens,
And she drew the camp’s provisions
On a special line of railway
Branching off at old Glenfaba
Ere the line departs to Holm Peel,
The last station to the westward.
So we come to the most modern
Of the antique locomotives,
In design utilitarian,
Not so graceful as her sisters,
Yet in some way reminiscent.
Similar in wheels and layout,
Different in her proportions.
Greater in the girth of boiler,
Shorter in the height of smoke-stack.
Number Sixteen, named the Mannin,
Is the last of all the engines,
And the last that will ever be;
For the railway’s days are numbered
And the gallant Iowemma
Soon will be remembered glory.
As the all-invading buses
Swallow up the island traffic,
And the panting locomotives
Pant no longer ‘mid the hedgerows,
Climb no more the testing gradients,
But are sold for scrap to dealers
And are broken into pieces,
Sad indeed their mournful future.
Then perhaps in some museum,
In a country proud and alien,
We will see one relic salvaged,
One a specimen for records.
Which will be the chosen model?
Sutherland or Loch or Peveril,
Wood or Hutchinson or Mannin?
This is but my idle dreaming,
And although ‘tis bound to happen,
Let us hope that such a future
Is in point of time far distant,
And the life of Iowemma
Still will last while I am living;
When I die I cannot bother
What is done to Iowemma;
For although it would be priceless
Were their souls to puff and whistle
On a golden track Elysian,
I have doubts that I shall see them
In the Kingdom of Hereafter.