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Train to commemorate famous poem
2:14pm Monday 19th May 2014 in News
Gordon Harris, chairman of the committee co-ordinating the Adlestrop centenary celebrations, committee member Ralph Price, whose father was the last stationmaster at Adlestrop, and Victoria Huxley, organiser of the poetry competition.
MODERN-DAY Cotswold Line trains speed past the site of Adlestrop station but a stop there one summer afternoon in 1914 inspired the poet Edward Thomas to write some of his most famous verses.
One hundred years later, on Tuesday, June 24, that moment will be commemorated by the reading of Thomas's poem Adlestrop on a special train that will stop near the site of the station, which closed in 1964.
Thomas's poem claims his train stopped "unwontedly" but research, using his journal recording the journey and railway timetables, has shown the call at Adlestrop was a timetabled one, allowing him to hear the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire singing.
John Ellis, the chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, which is organising the train with First Great Western, said: "We would like to invite anyone who enjoys Edward Thomas's poetry to join us on this unique train. It will carry just 200 passengers and we have sold more than 60 tickets already, so early booking is recommended."
The train is one of a number of events commemorating the centenary, with a celebration in the village the same day, featuring talks and readings about the poem, organised by the Friends of the Dymock Poets, who foster interest in the work of a group of poets who lived around the Gloucestershire village between 1911 and 1916.
This event is fully booked, with about 80 people taking part. There will be a break shortly before noon for participants to walk to a field above the village to watch the special train make its stop.
Residents of Adlestrop have organised a centenary poetry competition. The winner of the £400 first prize will be announced by poet and broadcaster PJ Kavanagh, who is judging the entries, on June 24 at the celebration.
Village resident Victoria Huxley, author of Jane Austen and Adlestrop, who organised the contest, said: "We had almost 200 entries from all over the world, though most were from Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. And through the entry fees we have raised almost £2,000 for the village church."
The village's annual open day, on Sunday, June 15, will feature a reading of the poem by the actor Robert Hardy, at the bus shelter, which is home to one of the Great Western Railway nameboards from the station and a GWR bench which bears a plaque with the words of the poem.
For full details of the afternoon's events, see adlestrop.org.uk The Adlestrop Centenary Special train will leave Oxford at 11.28am, reaching Moreton-in-Marsh at 12.15pm, after stopping near the bridge where the A436 from Salford Hill to Stow-on-the-Wold crosses the line.
While the train will return at 12.30pm, reaching Oxford at 1pm, passengers who want to visit Adlestrop can use their tickets to return from Moreton-in-Marsh on normal FGW services later in the day.
Fares are £20 for adults and £10 for children aged five to 15. For more information and to download a booking form, see the special trains page at clpg.org.uk or call CLPG secretary Brian Clayton on 01386 701528.
Adlestrop by Edward Thomas
Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
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