Before the fell doctor took his axe to it,
there was a line from Paddington via
Ruabon up the valley to Lake Bala
and so to Barmouth on Cardigan Bay.
What is left is Llangollen to Carrog,
a heritage line run by volunteers.
They have Thomas the Tank Engine days.
The smoke boxes are covered by plastic
faces – Edward, Gordon, Thomas himself.
We go en famille and our grandchild,
predictably, is enchanted but not
surprised. Her universe swarms with magic.
As we eat at a picnic table
on the platform, the Fat Controller
raises his hat to us. She stares enthralled.
How very Church of England these tales are,
though not without humour or pathos!
It is the old church – the Tory party at prayer,
and the old party – gentry and tenants.
The useful trains trundle to the beat of
Hymns Ancient & Modern – ‘The rich man
in his castle, The poor man at his gate’.
Our engine is Gordon, Britannia Class.
He pumps out gouts of steam as the gradient
rises steeply from Llangollen to Berwyn;
passes the Eisteddfod grounds and crosses
the Dee, where bathers wave from a shallow,
sandy inlet and the little one waves back;
climbs through the Berwyn Tunnel; pauses
at Glyndyfrdwy – where Owain Glyndwr
proclaimed himself Prince of Wales; and so –
past a meadow with sheep and a horse
by a river bend, through sparse woods of ash
and oak – to Carrog and a puppet show.