Hornby Dublo - Poem by David Shoestring
Three rail tin track,
Real steel wheels
Offering little resistance,
Rolling on rails
Running into the distance.
The ‘Duchess of Atholl'
Approaches the station
With tinplate coaches
In close formation.
Tickling the joints
Of cast-metal points,
And diamond crossings,
Crossed with great poise
And a very satisfactory clattery noise.
Standing stiffly on the platform,
Lead figures greet each arriving train.
Heavy with anticipation,
They never board, but wait in vain.
Nor do they travel on the station buses,
Placed with care in the road outside.
Where lorries arrive from cardboard factories,
From a cardboard town
Where the figures reside.
At the platform’s end as the Duchess holds court
To ghostly schoolboys trainspotting for sport,
She whispers a breath of mineral oil
From her electric motor’s hot copper coil.
And from a cardboard box, Hornby blue,
Oil from a small glass vial is used
To lubricate the moving parts;
The real steel rods, the cranks and the wheels
That grip and slip in fits and starts
As a silent ‘Acme’ whistle is blown
By a phantom Guard; and the train departs.
Quickly, screened by sawdust greenery
The train disappears behind the painted scenery,
Racing to a town known only by a sign,
Until once again further down the line,
Excitedly, we see the funnel
Emerge once more from a hillside tunnel.
To blast once more along the downline ‘main’
To begin another journey.
To be another train.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
During the 'Golden' Age of Steam locomotives, long before the advent of X-Box and X-Factor, young boys all wanted to be Engine Drivers when they grew up, pleading for Father Christmas to bring them an electric model railway set for their Christmas Present.
In England, more often than not, this would be a '00' gauge ‘Hornby Dublo' model railway, and in the mid 1950's their fast passenger express train set was ‘The Duchess of Atholl'.
Packed inside a large blue box was a heavy die-cast metal engine and two tinplate coaches painted in the distinctive maroon colours of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, along with sections of electrified 12 volt three-rail track, made from tinplate and distinctively painted with railway sleepers and ballast.
This iconic, stylised track was supplied in fixed lengths which then clipped together using fishplate connectors, and an oval or circular layout set out and pinned down onto a home -made wooden baseboard.
Invariably, model townscape buildings or countryside scenery would then be built using printed cardboard cut-out kits to make the buildings and colour-dyed sawdust often used to represent grass.
My Father built just such a 6'x4' baseboard for me when I would have been about eight or nine years old, and still today I recall this event each and every time I sense the wonderful aromatic smell of freshly sawn pine.
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