Watercress Line

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the Watercress Line Mid Hants Railway is temporarily closed to the public. The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our most important consideration. You will know that the Watercress Line relies on ticket revenue to cover its operational costs, which currently work out more than £75,000 a month. Without money coming in from running services, the railway is eating into its financial reserves to survive. If you can help, please click on the Virgin Money Giving link below which allows you to donate a single amount or pay monthly if you're able to. You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10, texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message. Thank you for continuing to support us during this unprecedented situation. We hope to be able to welcome you back to the Watercress Line soon.


Stephen Evans CMG, OBE


I have been a member of the MHRPS for many years and can trace my railway preservation roots back to joining the Merchant Navy Preservation Society and the Bulleid Pacific Preservation Society when I was a boy and steam locomotives were still in action on main and branch lines.  For me, the Watercress Line epitomises all that is best in the heritage railway movement.  We have brought together a broad and varied group of Society members, volunteers and staff to operate a railway that preserves the spirit and actuality of the Southern Region and its Southern and LSWR forebears.  In so doing, we provide a leisure and educational facility that attracts tens of thousands of visitors of all ages and backgrounds. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to this remarkable
venture by chairing the MHRPS Board and by being a member of the MHR Board.

I have sought to bring to the two Boards the organisational, resource management, communications and policy skills that I have developed during a lengthy career in the Diplomatic Service culminating in three ambassadorial appointments and four years as a NATO Secretary General.  I like to think that I can use, for the benefit of our Railway, the experience of resolving differences, building consensus and managing change that I have acquired in Whitehall and overseas.

I see it as my job to help the Society and Railway to secure their interlocked futures by continuing to develop and implement a joint strategy focused on commercial viability aligned with respect for heritage standards.  That means strengthening and widening the Railway's capacity to attract customers and volunteers while staying true to our mission of preserving the ' living history' that the Watercress Line represents.  In the process, inevitably, we have to confront a myriad of technical, managerial, financial and service-delivery challenges.  All this requires the MHRPS and MHR Boards to work together closely and effectively and I will do everything that I can to ensure that this happens.

Ours is a great railway of which we can all be immensely proud, and I am committed to playing my part in securing its future success.


Derek Simmonds


Growing up near Woking, most Saturdays you’d have found me either by the tree opposite the Odeon or at the Tin Bridges (some call them the Twin Bridges) the other side of the station. That’s where I developed a love of steam and all things Southern.

Joining the Post Office as an apprentice, I qualified as an electrical engineer although much of my practical experience was in mechanical engineering, specialising in bulk mail handling. On the successful completion of a major parcel automation project at Coventry, I left Parcelforce when I was Head of Engineering after 33, mostly happy, years having been offered and happily accepting early retirement.

A qualified health & safety practitioner, I’ve had papers published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

After 8 years as a self-employed project manager of small building developments both domestic and commercial, my wife and I moved back south to Guildford for personal reasons in 2010. I joined the MHR in 2011 and managed ‘Mind the Gap,’ the MHR’s HLF supported apprenticeship scheme to its conclusion 6 years later. Many of the apprentices recruited under ‘Mind the Gap’ and subsequent initiatives are still on the railway.

A MHRPS Trustee for 5 years, I have been heavily involved in the Canadian Pacific project and jointly wrote the successful HLF application. I run PTS courses and have trained around 500 people thus far, with many being renewals. I am also a TTI.
I have produced both the Legacy Leaflet and the more recent Volunteer/Membership leaflet. I have also led fund raising for such things as the Queen Mary Brake, 75079 tender, 73096 Purchase, Ropley workshop equipment and various CanPac related appeals amongst others.

Married with 3 grown up children and 9 grandchildren, I am Chair of Trustees for another small charity.

Stephanie (Steve) Crowther

I have been a regular volunteer and MHRPS member since 1992, when my late husband and I joined the Traffic Dept as Porters at MFM. I trained as a signalman in 1994 and am currently Station Master at Alresford.  I was delighted to be invited to join the MHRPS Board in 2002. I succeeded Jim Russell as Chair in 2008, standing down from that role in September 2019. I have been instrumental in developing the strategic planning process and I currently oversee both the Volunteer and Heritage strands.

Six years ago I set up the Communications Group, which meets regularly every 3 months, to enable the different groups operating across the railway to share experiences and ideas with each other and the Boards. The sessions, which I facilitate, are led in rotation by the members.  I was also responsible for the reintroduction of Volunteer recognition through Long Service awards and Certificates of Appreciation.

In 2014 I initiated the Heritage Group, whose objective is to support the maintenance, improvement and enhancement of the railway’s Heritage offering. I continue to provide the link between this important working group and the Board.

I became a member of the MHR Ltd Board in 2014, although I am not standing for re-election this year. I am also a Director of 34007 Wadebridge Ltd, one of the representatives of the major shareholder, MHRPS.

My background is in secondary education: I was a Head for 14 years and then an advisor in school workforce development for West Sussex until retirement in 2011. I have served as a school governor and was accredited as a National Leader of Governance in 2013. I bring my experience of senior leadership and this focus on governance to the MHRPS Board and I am fully committed to the support of the railway’s continued success.


David Ford

David was born in Staffordshire in 1948. He grew up on the Isle of Wight and later in Warwickshire.  His father worked on the railway for 30 years and his mother was a Ticket Inspector with the GWR during the Second World War.  His earliest memory of railways is an LMS 8F at the bottom of his grandfather’s garden in Wolverhampton and O2s on the Isle of Wight, which his grandfather had shown him at Ryde Esplanade.   As a teenager he could often be found at Rugby, near the Bird Cage Bridge, Nuneaton T.V. or Leamington Spa General, all within cycling distance of home.

He joined GEC in 1964 as a Technician Apprentice and transferred to a Student Apprenticeship in 1967. He was educated at Coventry Technical College and Lanchester College where he studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  He joined ICL in 1970 as a Trainee Systems Engineer.

During his career in IT, David was Engineer–in-Charge for 10 years before becoming a Service Manager and then moving into Account Management, Sales and Programme Management.  His final role was as a Project Director in Fujitsu from where he retired in 2009.  He has worked across the UK and Ireland as well as the US, Canada, Norway, Italy and Turkey.

David has lived in Fleet, Hampshire since 1970.  He has three grown-up children and two granddaughters.

David is a keen amateur musician playing Trombone with the Woodley Concert Band, Dr G’s Big Band and Breakaway Brass.  He also plays Tuba with Da Capo Winds. Other interests include Travel, Railway Modelling, Genealogy, Industrial History, Cars and Motor Sport.

He has been involved with the Mid Hants since the early days mainly through fundraising, the Sponsored Walks and car parking.  Since 2010 David has been a regular volunteer at Ropley, starting the Wednesday Loco Gang Cake Rota, and has been a TTI for 6 years and a Trustee since 2013.  He is also a Director of Wadebridge Ltd.

As a Trustee he has supported the development of the Miniature Railway and has recently taken on responsibility for Society Assets which includes Locos. He is keen to see the Railway continue its development and supports the forward looking Future Strategy which the joint Boards are developing to take the MHR into the next decade.

Liam Kenchenten

I’ve had the privilege of being a MHRPS trustee since 2013. I joined the railway as a working volunteer in 2003 and I’ve primarily worked in the Operations Department as a Guard, Shunter and Fireman.

Away from the Railway I am a Business Improvement Consultant, partnering with businesses to increase customer value.

My focus as a trustee has been to ensure the railway is here for our visitors, members and volunteers/staff to enjoy in the future, selfishly I’d like to be in a position to celebrate our 80th anniversary in 2057! To ensure we set ourselves up for success in the future I have been leading on the review of our long term plan and development of our strategy for achieving our Vision for 2030.

Rob Latham C. Eng MIET

Awarded degree in Electrical Engineering at University of Leeds 1964

Became Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (formerly Institute of Electrical Engineers) leading to becoming a Chartered Engineer.

Career specialising in communications particularly development of VHF and UHF radio equipment and systems for Racal.

Railway projects during career include communication systems design for:

•    Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1)
•    Lewisham Extension to Docklands Light Railway
•    Crossrail

Joined Mid Hants 1977 and have worked with:

•    Building department
•    Operations
•    Catering

Chair and Editor of Thames Valley Regional Group
Editor for Marlow Maidenhead Passenger Association


Peter Smith

Peter Smith is married to Angela who both enjoy being with family and friends, taking holidays in new places - often by rail, caravanning, local history, living in Winchester, relaxing in Devon, volunteering for the Watercress Line and being actively involved in the community.  They have three grown up children and nine grandchildren.

Peter was a Senior Civil Servant with HM Treasury and the Department for Education, a NHS Finance Director and a Charity CEO. He is a qualified accountant and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts with wide experience of strategic change, organisational transformation, leadership development, financial, governance and risk management.

Since retiring from full-time work, Peter has been a Governor of Plymouth University, member of a Probation Board, a NHS Non-Executive Director, Chairman of Winchester City Council’s Standards Committee and Chairman of Winchester U3A.  He is currently Chairman of Hope Church Trustees, a Governor of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Trustee of an International Christian Charity.


John Trigg MBE PhD BSc adv Dip Ed.  Freeman of the City of London

I trained as a research Chemist researching into coordination chemistry magneto chemistry and radio isotopes. At that time I worked with people in education bringing Industry into schools at the 14 to 18 age group. I became so interested in science and engineering education that I worked in a school on a year’s secondment but never returned to industrial research; however I retained the link as a consultant chemist.
I have been employed in schools and colleges in the 11 to 19 age group at all levels up to Head Teacher.

Trained in Financial management, HR and Health and Safety

Worked on several Government projects by invitation

Positions held include:
Chairman of the Association for Science Education
Consultant to BAe Systems
Educational Consultant in Building Sufficiency
Chairman of School Governors


Gregory Watson

Whilst my background is as a chartered accountant, for the last 26 years I have worked in commercial radio in a variety of corporate development and strategy roles at stations such as Classic FM and Capital Radio.

For the last ten years I have run my own business which includes Fun Kids, the UK’s only radio station dedicated to children, and a network of DAB multiplexes delivering local BBC and commercial digital radio to 15 million people across England and Wales. We also make radio programmes and podcasts for clients including the BBC and ITV.

In relation to the railways, I have always had an interest in the railways, from standing on the edge of the platform in my teenage years to exploring the infrastructure and engineering of the railway network.  And I love my model railway layout – great at creating complex track structure, rubbish at building beautiful scenery!

I have been a member of Mid-Hants since 2007, and in other rail related roles was a Public Member on Network Rail for three years.