A poem which gives a romantic view of Didcot Power Station has won a national poetry prize.

The poem, The Cooling Towers at Didcot, written under an assumed name by retired Oxford don Sir Christopher Ball, below, was chosen out of 7,000 entries to win the United Press annual Local Poem Competition.

Sir Christopher, a former head of Keble College, Oxford, and a one-time chancellor of the University of Derby, entered the poem under the name John Elinger.

He said: “I was schocked to be named winner of the Local Poem competition, especially in view of the fact that it attracts so many thousands of entries from across the UK.

“I wrote very little poetry until I retired at the age of 70, but since then I have set myself a target of writing a poem every week.”

Sir Christopher, who lives in Richmond Road, Jericho, won £1,000 for his efforts, and won the competition’s South East of England category.

The 73-year-old was knighted for his services to education in 1987, and is a patron of the Jericho Living Heritage Trust, which was formed to press for responsbile development of the Jericho canalside.

Sir Christopher said: “I don’t want to be judged on anything I have achieved in my personal life, so I use my middle names in poetry contests.”

He received his award at Oxford Central Library, from United Press managing director Peter Quinn, who said: “The competition is designed to get people involved in poetry and we do feel that poems from personal experience are the best. Christopher’s poem is extremely lyrical.”

THE bride and bridesmaids, look. A child Is pointing from the swerving train.

A memory I must have filed And labelled read again, again.

So long ago. Today, once more, My train passes those plain squat towers, I watch three women near the door Of a square church, they bear no flowers.

Though veiled in white, stout matrons still And faded like a photograph Of an old wedding day, until They disappear. Technology’s half Life seems so short. The towers must go, They say. Railways will follow too.

Our great grand-children will not know The secret Didcot sight we knew And loved, a stately wedding march Which none but children recognise, Frozen in time, beneath the arch Of spacious, grey, indifferent skies.

John Elinger