Watercress Line

MP Visits Eastleigh and Canadian Pacific Project

Mims Davies MP visited the Watercress Line to see the work being completed by various people on bringing back a giant of the steam age. Canadian Pacific is a magnificent steam locomotive being restored back to running condition in its birthplace – Eastleigh Works. The overhaul of Canadian Pacific and two rare wooden bodied carriages is the centre of a large project that aims to increase the involvement of more people in the preservation of this significant piece of Eastleigh’s heritage.

Much of the work is being carried out by a dedicated and hardworking team of volunteers from different life experiences and backgrounds. We have been working with the Job Centre to involve the local community by providing work experience for local job seekers. Those who take part in the four week work experience placements often stay on to become long term volunteers and/or leave better equipped and confident in finding work elsewhere. We additionally are working with local educational establishments and community groups on a variety of activities.

Canadian Pacific is not just a symbol of Eastleigh’s engineering heritage but also of women’s engineering. The steam locomotive was built in 1941 when many women were working in Eastleigh Works. During the Second World War, women were drafted into the workshops as the usual (for the time) male workforce joined the armed services. As the building of this nearly 100 ton machine involved women, we therefore aim to use it to inspire girls into considering careers in Engineering – an area of employment that currently is heavily male dominated.

Mims Davis MP commented that “It was fantastic on so many levels to visit the workshop and see the amazing work being undertaken by the Watercress Line to restore the locomotive.”

"It's great job seekers are being given training on the overhaul and hopefully they will go on to find other work; it’s satisfying that the work is being carried out in Eastleigh at the birthplace of Canadian Pacific and, from an historical point of view, it was fascinating to hear that much of the locomotive was largely built by women in the dark days of World War Two.”

“This last fact will hopefully be an inspiration for today’s women to follow in the footsteps of past generations and get involved in engineering.” “I will be pretty excited to see the work completed on Canadian Pacific and I will definitely be taking a trip on the Watercress Line when she’s back on the rails.”

The Canadian Pacific project aims to complete the overhaul of the steam locomotive in 2018, when it will take its place as the pride of the Watercress Line’s fleet. The experience of being hauled by the mighty Canadian Pacific running up and down the picturesque ten mile long line is an exciting prospect! If you want to become involved or kept up to date with the project, please visit www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac

Return to the Can Pac site