History of the Amersham Area

In Memoriam – an Amersham poem

Poem in leaflet provided by Laurie Haddon in February 1982, thought to have been written in 1892 but the author is unknown.

IN LOVING MEMORY of this old town, which departed this life (virtually) in 1832, when it lost the distinction of being a Borough.

PEACE TO ITS ASHES
DISTURB NOT THIS SLEEP OF DEATH

Farewell, a long farewell to all thy greatness!
O, Amersham, thou art indeed brought down,
Thy glory is departed, now we see thee
An ancient-looking, melancholy town.

With no large “public buildings”, all have fled thee,
Excepting one, which rears its stately head
Above the rest, the Union still is left thee
And vagrants numberless by thee are fed.

One factory remains; in silent grandeur
It stands, like some dark prison-home of yore;
Thy streets deserted, and thy market empty,
O, Amersham, thy prosperous days are o’er.

And men of business, busy City merchants
To thee retire, to spend old age in peace;
For well they know that when they reach thy borders
The traffic, noise, and din for ever cease.

Thy people live a life of rest and quiet
No clanging bell disturbs their night’s repose,
O, bliss indeed, to slumber half the daytime,
O, Amersham, sleep on! Enjoy thy doze!

Yet thou has something left to boast of. Listen!
Slough, Wycombe, Aylesbury, Marlow, hark to this!
“The Town Hall is the finest in the county!
Sightseers! Do not this “fine” building miss.

Thy people, too, are very kind and thoughtful,
For often in thy street some worn-out steed
Or half-starved cow, may there be seen quite happy,
Munching the growing grass, or unchecked weed.

Sleep on! Sleep on! O rouse not from thy slumber
Despised and dying, slowly, yet most sure;
Fast getting less, decreasing every census,
Soon this poor ancient town will be no more

But hark! What’s this? A voice is heard exclaiming,
“Rouse up, O Amersham, bad news for thee!
The Railway’s coming! Coming very shortly,
The station just behind the Rectory.”

What voice is this that wakes thee up so rudely?
What line is coming thro’ thy midst ere long?
The Metropolitan Extension Railway?
O turn aside, do not this cruel wrong.

O Amersham, thy peaceful sleep is over,
Thou canst not slumber half the daytime now;
The rushing engine and the shrieking whistle
Will frighten and alarm thee with their row.

But it is not too late. Will no one save thee?
Cannot this line be turned another way?
Poor helpless Amersham, will none befriend thee?
This line will hasten on thy dying day.

Thou mightest linger on a few years longer,
If these false friends would let thee rest in peace;
This Metropolitan Extension Railway
Will shorten life, and hasten thy decease.

Farewell, a long farewell to all thy greatness!
With one last look we turn from thee away;
Soon we shall hear of Amersham no longer
‘Tis hast’ning fast to ruin and decay.