Photo by Network Rail
Part of my childhood has disappeared. A few weeks ago, as part of the Great Western Main Line electrification project, Network Rail demolished Trenches Bridge, about half a mile west of Langley station.
I spent the early years of my life living very close to this bridge; whatever it’s official name might have been, we all knew it as “The Hillside”. Quite why is anyone’s guess, although it was probably a reference as much to the embankment as to the bridge itself. Where the embankment leading down from the bridge met the road there were three impressive elms that, to a five-year old, were like a forest. Sadly those fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease many years ago.
As for the bridge, it crossed the busy four-track Great Western main line out of Paddington, which as much as now was an endless procession of trains, with far more variety than you see today, especially freight. I have memories of long summer evenings after school watching the busy evening rush-hour. I was too young to remember much of the final years of steam (at least too young go there unsupervised), although I do have one strong memory of an ex-GWR pannier tank shunting the Stadex siding on a frosty morning. The strong memories are of the heyday of the WR diesel hydraulics, the Westerns and Warships in their distinctive maroon livery, and what was always a childhood favourite, the Hymeks. Often the highlight of an evening would be a Blue Pullman, one of the WR’s multiple unit Pullman sets working the down Bristol or South Wales Pullman.
We moved house early in the 1970s. by which time the diesel hydraulics were in decline, and green and maroon liveries had given way to corporate image BR blue. But the love of trains has never left me.