The announcement by George Osborne, our Chancellor that Ebbsfleet in Kent has been chosen, yet again, to be a major urban area, this time a Garden City, has both the media and the blogosphere in a tizzy at the sheer daftness of the idea.
Scorn is being poured along with some astonishment. The area is almost swamp land in some respects and one of the least lovely parts of the Kingdom. It is also slap in the middle of one of the most congested areas of road networks in Europe.
But it does have an HST railway station, a stop on the Dover to St. Pancras International line. Simon Jenkins in The Guardian has said that on his journeys he has yet to see people getting on or off. On the occasions we have used the line it does seem very quiet.
Rather than do a long piece, here is a poem below about a station, long ago, on the Great Western Railway between Oxford and Worcester, not far from Chipping Norton. Another time and another world.
Had George promised to return Westminster to primeval swamp it would have been a better idea.
And a lot more popular.
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 willow, 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.