Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tombs and trains

A carrot and whip situation faced me today, with brilliant sunshine providing the carrot, but the whip consisting of very low temperatures. Sunshine triumphed however and persuaded me that I get off my bum and go for it, accordingly I set out in my continued aim of exploring darkest Daventry.

I strode forth briskly, passing through the grounds of Holy Cross church. A number of chest tombs are present, one of which was smothered, until recently, with ivy.
The sides of the tomb have now been cleared with the consequence that the structure now wears a strange toupee of dead twigs and branches. I could find no inscriptions on the tomb sides so I assume these remain hidden beneath the vegetation on the chest top.
I pushed on across the A425 towards Southbrook, passing the curiously named 'Daventry and Southbrook Learning Village' (they couldn't spell 'school') and then turned north, avoiding roads and sticking to footpaths. I was able, by facing west across the school sports fields, to look back at Holy Cross Church.
Although the sighting of the church meant that I knew just where I was, the area was completely unknown to me. I made my way towards Norton Road, passing a large, dead elder tree, Sambucus nigra, whose main branches had fused. This is not an unusual occurrence and in some cases is caused by branches rubbing together in the wind until their cambium layers are laid bare and natural grafting takes place. In this instance however the branches had thickened with growth and had simply come into firm contact with each other, resulting in the fusing of the tissues.
I headed west along Norton Road and thus returned to the town centre. This was achieved with ease thanks to an underpass. Daventry has a number of these underpasses, the sides of which are often 'decorated' with graffiti, but this one was a little out of the ordinary. Someone had presumably been invited to create something a bit above average. They couldn't be described as brilliant but they were quite recognisable. Thus on the left is a Johnson-designed 3-cylinder Midland compound loco, introduced in 1924 for moderately heavy passenger workings.
The engine on the right is not quite as clear but appears to be an Ivatt-designed 2-6-0 introduced for the L.M.S in 1946 for light passenger workings. Next, in green, comes a Pacific loco, i.e. one with a 4-6-2 wheel arrangement. The parallel boiler suggests a Britannia engine designed for the nationalised British Railways and would have been used for top-flight passenger workings.
Several other engines had also been painted on the walls of the underpass and it is surely significant that this structure is very close to the site of Daventry's railway station, closed to passengers in September, 1958. Several other locomotives were portrayed and they provided an interesting ten-minute break from walking. Another five minutes and I was back at the town centre. Not a bad walk at all.

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