Watercress Line

Building Department gated

This is a term normally associated with naughty boys as a punishment not being permitted to leave school premises, normally related to boarding schools. However, although most of us may come under the title of naughty boys we do get allowed to leave the place occasionally. The subject matter however concerns the new picket gates which have been made in the workshop at Medstead and now erected at the entrance to the platform from the staff car park at Ropley. These look smart now but will also enhance the scene in this area when the proposed landscaping is carried out to lay the rough surface outside the entrance to the Education Room with setts. The hole we have dug is an exploratory one to find out how we can insert a drain to take away surface rain water into the existing underground system. The concrete cap to the head of the well (it is quite deep) will have a low brick wall built around it with a further wall on the top which will enclose a flower bed feature. We also have to excavate a trench across this site in order to lay a new water pipe which will feed the up-side of the station via the signal box. We will complete these tasks before we lay the setts surface- unlike many roadworks you see where a new surface is laid one week and is dug up the following week to put some new pipe or something in and a patch up is then done.

The job that we got ‘board’ about is now getting the paint finish to complete the task. The under canopy at Ropley station has not had much attention since the time the colour scheme was changed from the London and South Western Railway colour scheme that was applied in the earlier days of the Mid Hants Railway- a mix of pink and brown shades- to the Southern Railway colour scheme of green and gold. Although this area doesn’t get exposed to the weather very much it does get a regular dose of steam and soot from the passing trains and engines getting up steam pressure in the mornings.

The flag pole support that we fabricated in the workshop has now been duly planted in the fenced compound at Ropley by the Wednesday Gang and they have nicely finished it off around the base. A trial erection took place and the pole was found to be vertical- well done!- and when various attachments are complete it will be erected operationally i.e. flying a flag. In order to finish the job off properly we have now made some fence panels and another gate in the round top fencing style to replace the time expired wooden picket fence around the pole compound. This will then match in with the other fences around the picnic area and be easier to maintain over a long period.

After a little break we have also turned our attention at Ropley back to the fencing on the footpath to the Harry Potter footbridge and carriage/boiler shop observation galleries. The steps from the yard have been adapted at the top with and the step lift levels made regular with flag stones. A new gate has been made to enable access for staff to and from the yard, but not public access, and appropriate signage will be added to this effect. A little further down the path, and following the alterations to the fence panels to allow access to the containers, we are installing new side panels alongside the access area for fork lift truck usage. Another panel will fill in the back of the space and with chains hung between posts to restrict public access. This job will also give a more finished look to this area which will blend with the excellent make over to the garden strips that is being carried out alongside the footpath. When you look back to pictures of this area of only a few years ago this whole scene has been transformed and reflects the amazing progress made on the Railway in those few years.

Bob Brooks

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