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In the Sidings

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Cyril Tawney wrote In the Sidings in 1963. He sang it on his 1972 Argo album In Port and on his 1997 cassette of non-maritinme songs Man of Honour where he noted:

It wasn’t just the travelling public who were affected by the Beeching cuts. I knew a vereran railway worker who was running a Devon halt single-handed. He found himself facing the axe, so this song was loosely based on him.

Dave Goulder sang In the Sidings Now on his 1971 album The Man Who Put the Engine in the Chip Shop. The album was reissued in 2008 as part of his Fellside CD The Golden Days of Steam. This track was also included in 2006 on Fellside’s 30 years anthology Landmarks.

Louis Killen sang In the Sidings in 1980 on his album Gallant Lads Are We. He noted:

Written by Cyril Tawney in the 1960’s, at the time of the massive closures of many railway lines, this is a song about the problems of workers, especially the ones who are aging, made redundant by company (or in this case, government) policy. The accountants’ decisions, however, hit rural mobility and life as well as jobs.

Jim Causley sang In the Sidings in 2011 on his WildGoose CD of Devon songs, Dumnonia. He noted:

I read a poll in a well known newspaper concerning Britain’s most despised characters in history. Obviously Mr Hitler was high up there but not too far below was Dr Beeching! His axing of the railway branch lines affected the whole country and the West Country was particularly hardly hit. This song is by the wonderful Cyril Tawney and is written from the point of view of a station master who has recently been made redundant. We are fortunate in Whimple to still have our train station on the Waterloo line but I do feel slight venom towards Beeching that I now have to catch a scab-tram (bus) to get to Sidmouth Folk Festival every summer!


Louis Killen sings In the Sidings

The pin-stripe boys have had their say,
A line must go if it doesn’t pay.
But I’m too old to move away,
I’m in the sidings now.

I’ve worked this line for many a day,
I can name any driver a mile away,
But that’s no use when your hair turns grey.
I’m in the sidings now.

Well, now I know how a wagon feels
When the grass comes creeping round its wheels.
And its timbers turn to a woodworm’s meals,
I’m in the sidings now.

So I’ll give my whistle one more blow,
Then I’ll change my pole for a garden hoe,
My bogie fires are burning low,
I’m in the sidings now.

Good business men have often said,
Always trim your costs if you’re in the red,
Well, come shake hands with an overhead,
I’m in the sidings now.

If your money tree will bear no fruit,
Never blame the man who tends the root.
But take your knife to the tender shoot,
I’m in the sidings now.