Watercress Line

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The Miniature Railway

We have our very own ridable Miniature Railway! Hop on our miniature locomotives that will take you for ride for approximately ¼ km passing along our meadow field, children and adults alike will love the beautiful flowers blooming at its peak during the summer. See if you can spot a kestrel or even a deer!

We run two trains; Patricia is a dark green diesel electric and Nevada is a blue petrol hydraulic engine – which one will it be on your arrival?!

Ride for FREE during our Special Events and then on every Saturday from 26th March 2016 until the end of the season in November.

The Miniature Railway is located at Ropley Station, at the end of the platform,near the footbridge (where you will find signage).

Please note, this information is subject to change at any time and subject to availability. Please call in advance to ensure the Miniature Railway will be running on the day. The Miniature Railway will not run under some weather conditions. 

 

About our Miniature Railway…

Introduction & History

For the current Mid Hants Miniature Railway Group it all started in 2009, about 2 weeks before the Easter Thomas event, when the previous operator withdrew. We received a phone call from Colin Chambers asking if we could run the miniature railway, the only problem was we had no locos or stock! Some hurried phone calls later led to a Western Diesel and 2 coaches being hired and we managed to run a successful event!

This original 10¼ inch gauge route ran from our container, near the entrance to the top car park off Bighton Hill, for approximately 160 feet to a station that was located near the Harry Potter Bridge. Over the years we have built, acquired and restored our own locos and stock plus we built and laid replacement track and points. We ran this line for 3 years and became quite a popular attraction, last running in August 2012 when the track had to be lifted to make way for the construction of top car park.

We completed the current miniature railway at the end of March 2015 just in time for the Easter Day Out With Thomas event. It is located just to the west of Ropley station on the north side of the main line. The station consists of two platforms, one for joining and one for alighting from trains, and is located just to the west of Blakes Crossing. The route heads west out of the station following, and to the north of, the footpath that runs west from Ropley station leading towards Four Acre Field. The line is approximately 170 metres long and terminates just beyond our container and yard located at the summit of the line. We do hope to extend the line up to, and perhaps even into, Four Acre Field when time and funds permit.

 

Aims

The aims of the Mid Hants Miniature Railway Group are first and foremost to provide a safe, professionally run and well kept railway for the enjoyment of all visitors to the Watercress line. This is to be undertaken by voluntary effort and financed as far as possible by donations.

Our second aim is to build a resident fleet of locomotives, coaches, equipment and experience to be put to use on any future extension of the line, using both diesel and steam traction.

Our third aim is to provide a training ground for those volunteers not yet old enough to be fully involved with the standard gauge railway, so that when they do become eligible they will have acquired the skills, knowledge and professionalism required for our standard gauge operations.

 

Locos and Stock

Our group members currently own two operating locos:

i.Patricia, an American outline Diesel Electric loco. This is powered by a Lister 2 cylinder diesel engine which drives a 110V generator. This powers the traction motor that drives the rear bogie by a chain drive. This was in a very poor state when acquired by one of our members. However, following a rebuilt nose end, a complete rewire and a re-paint it has proven to be a reliable, powerful and popular performer. The only issue we have had with it is the failure of the worn out final drive chain and sprocket which have since been replaced.

ii.Nevada, another American outline loco but this one is powered by a Honda petrol engine which drives an Eaton Hydrostatic transmission. Again final drive is by chains. This loco was originally on long term loan but was acquired by three members of our group when the owner decided he wanted to sell it.

Group members have also acquired a 2-4-4 “Tinkerbell” style Steam loco which is currently awaiting restoration and completion.

We currently have on loan from a former group member two 12 seater bogie coaches named James and Victoria.

There is one 4 wheel wagon which is used for tools and material transfers when working on the line and station. This was restored to a very high standard by one of the former Rangers, who is now a full member of our group.

We also have a further 6 coach bogies and intend building our own coaches when time, funds and indeed space permit.

 

Infrastructure

Because of the soft nature of the ground we have had to dig a 9 inches deep by 30 inches wide trench for the entire route which has been covered with a GeoTek membrane and backfilled with 6 inches of crushed concrete topped off with 3 inches of ballast. Onto this the track has been laid and ballasted. The track consists of 3kg/m steel rail affixed to 22 x 3 x 2 inch double tanalised wooden sleepers and the gauge is 10¼ inches.

Our stock is located in a 40 foot by 8 foot steel container. There are two lines into this which are accessed from the running line via two points in the yard area. A small area at the rear of the container is reserved for our mess room facilities.

The station consists of two 34 foot long platforms either side of the running line at the Ropley end of the route. One platform is for boarding and the other is for alighting from trains. There is also a sand drag at this end of the line – just in case!

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