Watercress Line

7th June

At Ropley we have finally installed the Sponsored by Heritage Lottery sign on the outside of the carriage/boiler shop shed that we received following the grant to build the structure, and replaced following the unfortunate fire -better late than never. We had to have the sign backed with a light coloured vinyl in order to reflect the text better against the dark background of the shed walls. Its good to recognise this support, as it provided an excellent facility for heritage restoration and maintenance of our rolling stock and boilers and this on-going work is able to be seen at close quarters during galas, open days, behind the scenes tours and from the galleries during running days.


We have also made a small start on the scheme to landscape the platform area outside the Education Room/Machine Shop entrances. The scheme’s plan has been modified to make the task a little easier to complete and also to maintain access to the area during the grading of the slope and laying of the setts. The new plan will see setts laid around the perimeter of the site and the flower bed and with larger areas under the buggy shelter and outside the entrance doors. The centre areas can then be graded and laid with tarmac to blend with the station platform surface. The scheme will be progressed in stages in order to fit in with other projects that will require the gangs to work on during the summer period. A trench has been excavated for the drainage channel outside of the staff entrance to the loco shed and the drain channel units installed. These will feed surface water into the ground drains with further lengths of pipe laid in. Another channel will be required to run from the buggy shelter into a central drain chamber to ensure the area does not become too wet during heavy rain- which has been known to fall on occasions.


At Medstead various finishing jobs have been taking place on the Goods Shed as we loom towards the official opening. Externally, a renovated enamel advertising sign has been erected on the country end of the building which is compatible with the previous role of the shed when operational. It relates to the provision of agricultural feedstuffs which would have been a regular commodity passing through the shed after delivery by rail. The sign came originally from Petersfield Station goods yard, so has a local provenance to it. Internally, the goods clerks desk that has been renovated has been placed in situ and the display boards constructed in the workshop moved into place. The walls have been laid out with the  design of some of the display material to be put up describing the various aspects involved with goods traffic on local branch lines.


Outside, the platform entrance gate has been re-painted by the station team and re-hung of a new oak post and a new concrete ramp laid to provide a smoother transit from the gravel car park onto the platform. This will benefit wheelchair users as well a railway staff with trolleys of stuff to be loaded onto trains for transport to other stations along the line. Slightly further along from the entrance, the telephone box has been receiving the attentions of the mid-week team by an internal clean up and with a re-paint externally, and looks very smart again. This is not an operational box but adds greatly to the visual scene at the station and a common sight at country station locations which linked to the general network and in part used telephone wires that ran alongside railway tracks all over the country.


Down in the yard at Medstead the old steps from the top of the embankment have been dug out, by our friends in the PWay team, ready to lay in a new flight. The old steps were getting rather a hazard and as there can be quite a lot of traffic up and own on work days new ones were the order of the day. Wooden shuttering will be constructed, bolted together for strength, and concrete poured into the formation. A handrail will also be put in place- as an added aid for those of us that need a little extra help in going up at the end of the day.


Alresford saw a small- but perfectly formed- team tackle the dripping leak from the water column. This has been a niggly issue for some time, and a previous blog during the winter showed a spectacular icicle from the bag during a cold snap. A previous job that had to be undertaken to replace a broken valve shaft left the valve very slightly passing water, so this job was to totally replace the valve body and gate with the new one we had in stock. It was a fiddly task, and a little damp when the valve blew back water during the extraction of the old valve, thankfully the warm day allowed wet trousers to dry reasonably quickly. The replacement proved successful as the dripping stopped when the new valve was closed down. A little adjustment on the control wheel column by the addition of some extensions to the link wheel was needed to ensure a more positive connection to the valve.



Bob Brooks

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