Watercress Line

30th August Footsteps to Medstead

At last we have got to grips with the concreting of the new steps to the lower yard at Medstead. Of course this coincided with the period when the weather turned more unsettled and wet earlier, but at the time when the weather was fine we had to keep limited resources on other jobs that had already been started- hey ho. A dry mix of concrete was first laid as a base on the reinforcement grid between the shuttering and then damped down to set, but at the same time at the top of the steps we were able to pour a level area of wet concrete and get smooth finish. The pours of wet concrete for the steps were started a few days later, starting at the bottom steps. We could only go so far due to access getting the stuff hauled up passed the wet area and also to prevent slumping- the concrete that is not the chaps- but the mixing and moving the stuff took a bit of toil on those engaged. The rest was completed in two stages when the botton steps sections were hardened. A handrail will be fitted in due course- and a Stannah stair lift after that if some chaps have their way (other stair lifts are available).


In the Goods Shed at Medstead some further work has taken place on the displays. As part of that a guards lamp has been renovated and placed in the area devoted to the role of a goods guard. It was is in a parlous state when donated but has ‘scrubbed up’ nicely (with a bit of hard work) and now looks the business- see the before and after photos. I am not sure where the lamp came from but we are grateful for such donations to the Railway for exhibition to our visitors to give a flavour of the historical equipment that was used. The fit out of artefacts will continue as further expected material becomes available.


Also at Medstead we have commenced replacement of the boards on the foot crossing at the country end of the station. The boards here had been in place for some considerable time and had become rather uneven and were suffering from the effects of weather and passing trains, causing rot to set in. New individual boards, weather resisitant treated and with anti-slip material already applied, are being fixed to new wooden frames sitting between the tracks, with the appropriate wheel clearance near the rails. This will provide a much improved walking surface for station staff and public when the crossing is open.


Further to the renovation of the cast iron signs for the Northside Foot Crossing we have done a recce of the site to see what’s involved there and started work on the rail post situation. The Pway Department will take the rail post recently renovated in the workshop to the crossing and install that on the downside for one of the signs.  PWay have also straightened the rail post on the up-side that had a bit of a lean towards the track and that is being renovated in situ. Our thanks to PWAy for assistance with this remotely located job. The current shabby modern warning signs, and the temporary post on the downside, will then be removed and the traditional cast iron signs fixed to the rail posts. These will be seen from passing trains and will provide a more traditional look to the crossing. Passengers get a bit of a ‘heads up’ about something when the trains whistle when approaching the Whistle Boards either side of the crossing. Recent clearing of the lineside scrub on the London side has greatly improved the sight lines to the crossing, both for train crews and for walkers looking towards Ropley before crossing the tracks at this remote site.


Bob Brooks

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