Unusual Front Gardens #37: Trains

Topiary train engine in Marshfield Road

Sometimes all it takes is a slight detour of a few yards and the most familiar of walks has something completely new to offer. A recent trip to the cinema meant I had to cross the road on my usual walk into town and there it was: the next entry in my Unusual Gardens strand.

It turns out the topiary shape here has some meaning. The houses along this road belong to a listed building group which I photographed in 2000 as a volunteer for English Heritage. The houses were built by Rowland Brotherhood in 1858 to house workers at his railway engineering company in Foundry Lane nearby. Therefore a topiary train is perfect for this setting. Look carefully and you'll see there's another - shaggier version - in the background, awaiting a haircut from its owner.

This company has meaning for us too as - like many people who live here - NAH worked at subsequent iterations of the company: Westinghouse and Invensys. The railway station signs now show the company name as Siemens, but for many people in Chippenham it still is - and always will be - called Westinghouse.


  1. Well spotted VP! I thought of you during the week as we drove down to Malvern for the Midsummer Garden Festival when somewhere along the A49 a striking topiary man came into view. He made us and no doubt a lot of other people smile. Unfortunately we couldn't stop otherwise I would have got my camera out.

    1. Ooh I was at Malvern last week! I wonder if we were there on the same day i.e. Thursday?! I would have loved to see that topiary man...

  2. What fun. Have the people in the houses decided for themselves to have these topiary engines or is it something to do with them being listed?

    1. They're definitely not to do with the listing Lucy, though I have no idea when they were shaped like that. You can see there's another one in the back of the photo, though the next door neighbour hasn't trimmed theirs yet. I must see if they have by now...


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