Monday, 29 February 2016

The Birth of a Railway - The Birth of a Town

Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood was, a man of land and dreams
He lived at Rossall by the point, the north end of the Fylde
Rabbit warrens, sandy hills and marshes all around
At Rossall Hall he hatched a plan, a plan to take his name

Eighteen thirty was the year, a time of trains and steam
Making things was what they did in factories and in mills
Peter Fleetwood had a dream that one day he would see the queen
He’d build a railway then a town a port with ships that steam

The future beckons those who say that ports and railways are the way
Belching monsters hissing steam more than just a smoky dream
Futures calling those who hear, the forward way is written clear
He’d seen the Rocket, well impressed, George Stephenson, he was the best

He’s quite the man you need to know, he’s building railways good to go
The railways were the way to go, to go to Fleetwood and beyond
Railways steamships foreign lands smoking factories meet demand
Fleetwood is the place to be, to come by train, to see the sea

The land is bought, a port is born, the track is laid, a railway made
The railway days have now appeared and railway tracks are being laid
No muddy roads or slow canals, railway trains are now the way
Preston’s twenty miles away, we can visit twice a day

The great day comes the crowds are out, shouting waving flags about
Locomotive, splendid coaches, packed with ladies wearing broaches
Special people looking grand, drinking champagne with a band
We’re off to Fleetwood, clouds of steam, the engines chuffin like a dream

All aboard and yes we’re late, forgot the brown ale, but they’ll wait
Hissing clanking, belching smoke, snaking onwards gleaming track
Lots of people making hay cheering shouting all the way
Amazing sight a chuffing train faster than a human brain

Through a village, little town, past the houses, painted brown
Clicking clacking, on the rails, hear the whistle blowing loud
Kirkham, Poulton, bells are peeling, tranquil fields, and grazing cows
Over banking palisades, by the river round the bend, to the station at the end

The day was fine the crowds were vast, ensigns fluttered from the masts
Here is Sir Peter, knobs in tow, troop down the platform all a show
Stepping from the carriage doors, they strut their stuff, to massed applause
Congratulations left and right, it was such a joyous sight

Lots of pomp and beer and glee, by the river by the sea
New town nestles by the sands, healthy bathing, ain’t it grand
Crowded trains from smoky towns, bringing folk to breathe the air
New horizons open wide, a brave new town goes nationwide

In Decimus his trust he placed, to draw him up a winning place
Fleetwood Town does grow and grow, around the mount the roads do flow
Set out by plough the streets do show, neat little houses row on row
Fleetwood he of Rossall fame, had planned a town to take his name

The Queen she came with retinue by boat from Scotland’s shores
To Fleetwood on the way down south, to London town she did go
By train and railway don’t you know, the only way to go
She came and went with pomp and glee, watched by thousands from the quay

People came from miles around to see Queen Vic in the town
The band played loud, folk waved a lot, a fleeting glimpse is all they got
She’d gone before the mayor say; it’s been a very merry day
Off to Poulton for a stop to take on water not a drop

The dogs did bark the kids did shout, the Queen was chuffed and waved about
I am impressed; she deigned to say, as the royal train sped away,
I’ll be back here don’t you know, to go by train’s the way to go
A town he built, and railway ran, tell old Fleetwood he’s the man

Written when engaged with an art residency for Wyre Borough Council together with Left Coast, as part of a exhibition installation on the theme of the port and town of Fleetwood that was built in response to the arrival of the west coast railway from Preston. The railway provided a link from London to the west coast of Scotland.  With reference to the visit of Queen Victoria to Fleetwood on her return from Scotland in the Royal Yacht to link with the new railway from Fleetwood to London.
Alistair J Parker 
29th February 2016