For the Avonmouth element we wanted to focus on the significance of the railway. As ocean liners and seafaring vessels increased in size, making it more difficult for the ships to navigate the challenging route into the city centre docks, Avonmouth became the main port of call for Bristol and the railway an essential connection, transporting goods to the rest of the city.

Together with Masters Architecture students and History undergraduates from the University of the West of England and Platform (who connect classrooms to local rail, click here to read their blog about the project) we travelled with children from Avonmouth Primary School on board the Severn Beach Railway line to collectively produce an illustrated poem inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s From a Railway Carriage, drawing on an intergenerational sharing memories event at Avonmouth Community Centre exploring the significance of the railway today and in the past.

From Avonmouth to Temple Meads and Back
on the Severn Beach Line

Collectively composed by Year 3

Faster than cars, faster than planes
Flying past bushes and passing trains,
Dogs and squirrels, tunnels and trees,
Pictures and people, brambles and leaves,
Fences and whales, tunnels and railings
Bridges and houses, graffiti and paintings.

Here is a river that is overflowing
Like a snake wiggling towards an ocean,
Like shining glitter and sparkling light
That flashes and glows and blue as the sky
Moving and flowing with the fishes
And sparkling a little in the brightness.
And here the big river rushes down fast,
Glistening in the sun as it wiggly flows past.
Here it is muddy, there flat and clear.
Watch it weave like the sky, then disappear.

Here is a tree dancing in the wind
That moves like a wave across the water.
It is golden and brown and colourful
Shaking and wobbling and making leaves fall,
Like golden thread that swiftly swishes
A leaf on the branch dances and shivers.
Here is a place, home to birds and squirrel.
There is a war horse standing strong and still.
His heels on the ground, a frozen statue
In the Daisy Field, covered in horseshoes.

Here is a tunnel that is dark like the night
Under we go then out to the light.

Memories From a Railway Carriage
Collectively composed by Year 5

Faster than a bike, faster than cars,
Bridges and bushes, forests and farms.
Faster than ponies, faster than horses,
Chimneys and smoke, tunnels and courses.
Here is a river, bubbling and swirling,
Sparkling blue, glistening and curling.
There is a tramp steamer docked by the tugs
And here are some crew drinking hot tea in mugs.
Here herds of cattle graze in the clear.
There eating alone is a long-horned deer
Drinking the water and eating the grass,
Staring up frightened as the train whistles past.

Here is a fireman throwing out some coal
For families to gather up in a bowl.
Here is a child who is playing and stumbling
On top of the bombed out ruins that are crumbling.
Here’s the river again, that’s long gone by
It’s muddy and wide, reflecting the sky.
Here are more cows who stand in the grass
Staring and staring at us in the glass.
And here is a cow who stares and eats
And there is another that is asleep.
And while all the sheep are grazing
The church is filled with people praying.
Here is a tunnel that grumbles and echoes
I see myself when I look at the windows
A scary tunnel that is long and dark
Coming out of the tunnel is a park.
Over the train are towering trees
Against the gust of wind they wave and freeze
Here is a young tree swaying with its friends
Fluttering golden and ruby gems,
Trees with yellow leaves, orange and brown
Having fun and rustling around.

Children stand on a bridge, steam puffs on their face
Near the farm before there were motorways.
Here is a car broken down in the road
Standing there with a heavy load.
Up in the sky it is black and grey
Makes it dark in the clouds, it starts to rain.
A train rattles past in the wink of an eye
And the sun comes out and makes it light.