Watercress Line

WINTER WORKING AT THE MINIATURE RAILWAY

Since the end of the 2016 operating season we have started several projects.

 

Firstly we have our new replacement coaches well under way. These were originally two, redundant, 3 car articulated sets purchased from The Ferry Meadows Miniature Railway. They were in poor condition but we selected the best 3 frames and set about rebuilding them to suit our railway. Amazingly all the frames were different widths so we have had to modify them to all be 32” wide. The Centre Coach was the only one that was this width with one being wider and the other narrower. We are indebted to David Ford and his fellow Loco Wednesday Gang Members for not only undertaking these frame modifications but also painting them and installing the new chequer plate flooring. They also helped us to transfer the loaned coaches away from our container so that we could work on the new ones. We now have the seat frames installed on one end coach frame and work is progressing apace on the other two. We are grateful to the Preservation Society for funding most of the materials. The pressure is now on to complete at least two of the coaches ready for the Easter DOWT event. Martin Pratt has taken the lead on this project and I must say that he has done a first class job of planning, making jigs and organising construction and painting ably assisted by Richard Matthews.  The resultant seat frames are a credit to Martin. Keith Hoddy and Dave Hill along with Martin have done a splendid job of refurbishing the bogies.

 

Secondly we have started installing a pitched roof onto our container, the idea being to clad it so that it looks more like a wooden building and blends in better. All the rafters have been installed and during the installation Richard Matthews had the idea that, by extending the Rafters on the south side, we could build a lean-to. This will provide some much needed additional storage space and, indeed, it transpires that there is just enough room to provide another storage road inside it. Alasdair Reid has taken the lead on this and, with Richard, Tony Jarrett, Tony Neil and Cameron Palmers assistance, I’m sure you will agree that its beginning to take shape very well. So far most of the work has been undertaken with reclaimed materials but once again we are indebted to the Preservation Society for funding the additional materials that will be required.

 

In third and final place we have the track extension work. The first stage of trench works is well underway and the first four track panels have already been roughly laid out. Once again the Preservation Society have kindly funded the provision of the crushed concrete we need to provide a firm base for the track. We also owe thanks to Ben Spraggon and his good friend John who do much of the earthworks with Bens mini digger. The surveying for the route has been done by Martin Champion and Richard Matthews who have created a smooth alignment and worked out all the levels throughout the entire 200m length of the extension. Cameron Palmer and Phil West have also helped considerably with this project.

 

I can almost hear you say “and what have you been doing?” and I guess several, if not all, of the above would pose exactly the same question! Well, in my defence, I have tried maintain some semblance of order and sanity around the site and to fill in the gaps where required in each of the above projects – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

Seriously though, it really is heartening to see so much work progressing on all these projects. I think we already have a reasonably successful enterprise and I’m confident that we can eventually develop this into a substantial Miniature Railway. Of course none of this can happen without the aforementioned funding and the equally, if not more, valuable assistance of all our volunteer helpers - I can only apologise to anyone I’ve forgotten to mention!

 

Ray Briscall

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