Watercress Line

17 Jan The shortest Fence in the World

During the bulk of December and early January we seemed to be engaged primarily on maintenance and repairs, which in the main was not particularly news worthy but of crucial importance to keep the show on the road (tracks). Some time was also spent planning some of the more significant schemes we have to complete in 2018, with visits to the sites and assessing what resources (chaps) and materials would be required. It’s best to have a good plan for these more major tasks- must get some more fag packets to write on.


However, some work was carried out in the workshop and one job being to create possibly the shortest fence in the world- one spike and a bracket- wouldn’t do for Donald Trump. This was fabricated to fill in a small gap in the platform fence at Alton where it was possible for children to get through, and slim adults, when the station is closed. It is a bit of added security and also to prevent children straying when the platform is busy, especially during events throughout the year.


We also took advantage of the cold/wet weather- our excuse to stay inside in the warm- to paint up sections of the  staging units we have. This not only helps protect the metalwork but numbering up each piece also helps to identify which piece belongs to which set without too much head scratching and also makes the annual safety check easier to undertake. All the wheel units were checked, brakes tested, painted and oiled ready to be matched up with the set they belonged to. The equipment exercise is  carried out towards the end of each year in order to ensure that all the Building Departments’ access equipment is up to standard and safe to use. There are numerous individual items to each set of staging and together with ladders and steps located at each station along the line it’s quite a job to get done, especially with bits moving about all the time which have to be tracked down. Any item found to not meet the required standard is either repaired or taken out of use. This is another of the unseen aspects of work that takes some time that we need to allocate resources to and  which means other tasks get put back unfortunately.


A review of the wheelchair ramps at the stations was also carried out during this non-running period in order to make sure they were all in an operational state. In the main they were, with only minor repairs required, but we thought we would take the opportunity to give them a bit of a makeover to improve their appearance. Paint was rubbed down and rust areas treated and they were painted up to gloss with a non-slip finish applied to the ramp surface. Every station will have a ramp for each platform and we will have at least one in reserve ready to go should a fault occur requiring a ramp to be taken out of use for any reason. These ramps also come into play when we are moving some of the more weightier bits and pieces of kit the Building Department moves up and down the line for jobs, using the brake carriages for their original purpose.


When the weather did give a bit of respite we again tackled some more of the laying of setts at Ropley station. The gang on this job have started to lay up towards the down platform, giving an attractive curve to the corner near the Education Room entrance which leads visitors round from the front of the station. The centre portion of this area of ground will eventually be laid with tarmac to replicate the platform surface. It is hoped to complete this scheme during 2018 as progress should speed up when the better weather comes around, hopefully.


Bob Brooks

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