Watercress Line

Finishing and starting

At the Halls Distemper sign site at Ropley we have moved the installation along further and finished  the landscaping aspect of the job by levelling the embankment surface and have constructed a frame for a sign base. This has been in-filled with wood chippings (a by-product of the tree felling in the  cuttings towards Alton) and will give added substance to the feature and also make maintenance of the ground around the sign easier to keep looking attractive. During the task one of the Halls men, Jim we called him, wore the correct high vis. apparel  for lineside working, but studiously failed to acknowledge the approach whistle by the engine driver and was duly reprimanded. We still await the smaller wall mounted version of a similar  image that will be installed on a station building, yet to be confirmed.

Re-visiting the dock crane project at Medstead, the final mechanical pieces have now been fitted, thanks to some assistance from the loco machine shop with some component replacement. The mechanism for rotating the crane has now been attached and painted up and the structure can now be seen as a complete piece of load moving machinery- but not actually operational for load lifting as it is not certified for such. The finished crane has been observed to generate quite a bit of interest from passengers on the passing trains and those crossing the footbridge between trains, and will be even more so when the dock platform is opened for access for visitors at future occasions, especially by crane officianados.

At Ropley recently a joint event was held to celebrate the return to steam of the Ivatt tank engine, the Bulleid carriage coming into service and also the unveiling of the National Railway Heritage Volunteers Award plaque for the Waiting Shelter. The unveiling was conducted by Tim Shoveller, managing director of Stagecoach Group UK Rail Division (the award sponsors). Reasonable weather graced the event thankfully, which was followed by a cream tea trip on the train pulled by the Ivatt.

Back at Ropley, work has now started on the landscaping of the platform area outside the Education Room/Viewing Gallery entrance. This area did not receive much attention following the building of the wheel drop shed and loco shed extension and has been rather hiding its potential as a part of the down platform at this station. The old well head is to be made into a flower bed feature, with a square brick wall and brick surface around the current concrete capping and with a circular brick wall to be built above which will be filled with soil and planted out. The initial work was to excavate the ground around the cap and create a concrete foundation for the brick wall to stand on. Bricks from stock are now being laid on this foundation to form the outer wall for the base platform. We are a bit limited on what we can do at present on this project in this part of the station due to the number of events that take place during the busy summer and autumn seasons and also with the need to dig in a new water feed pipe at some point. However, the building of the wall and the creation of the flower bed feature will demonstrate that work to transform this currently rather unattractive part of the platform is underway.

A workshop job at Medstead that filled the days of War on the Line recently, when we mainly stayed workshop based, was the fabrication of some bespoke fence panels to fit the path side spaces at the Harry Potter Bridge area. These will replace the elegant (not) chain link fence lengths that were temporarily put up the prevent little persons from getting underneath the steps and ramps. They did the job but the round top panels will do it with more panache.

Bob Brooks

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