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.

A roof over one’s head

The biggest difference you will see if you pop your head into the carriage workshop at the moment will be the reappearance of a roof on top of Bulleid open third 1456! If it were outside during a prolonged period of precipitation you’d certainly still get wet, but it’s a start.

These Bulleid coaches that we are working on are made largely of timber. There is a steel underframe, but above floor level, it’s pretty much all made of wood. This includes the roof, which is made of timber hoops going across the width of the carriage (see my last blog!), topped by tongue and grooved boards fitted together the length of the carriage. These form the body of the roof, which then has a canvas laid on top of it, bedded down and painted, before hey presto! You have a watertight roof (hopefully…). We’ve installed roughly 50 boards on the roof, which covers a bit over two thirds of the area of the roof (see photos). These have all been fitted working from inside the carriage on a little scaffold tower, while the next sections will be done from outside the carriage on a larger tower.

The next sections of roof to be fitted will start going around the tight shoulders of the roof line, and will mostly be of a narrower diameter to allow them to fit around this tighter curve. We’re still some way off canvassing the roof, which is better done in warmer weather anyway, but getting the roof on is one of those things that really helps to start make the carriage look like a carriage again!

While I’ve been working on the Bulleid coach roof, Gordon has been sinking his teeth into window frames on the Mk1 CK we have in the workshop, 16083. All of the window frames were rotten after best part of a decade out of use, so replacement is really the only course of action. Gordon has been busy making new jigs for the frames, machining bits of timber, and they’re really starting to look the part now. They’re a different type of construction to that which is fitted to the previous MK1 we restored, 4910, which is often the case due to all the different works who manufactured MK1 carriages. In other wood work on the carriage, the corridor panelling has been rubbed down to bare wood and a first coat of varnish put on, and a lot of the other items such as door jambs and panels have also had the same treatment.

On the metalwork side of the MK1, Rob has been forging ahead (no pun intended) on the London end, with structure of the end very close to being finished. The two doors in the end are being rehung as well, which is something of a rite of passage for those who work on carriages. Everybody who works on them knows that doors (and indeed windows), are what is known in the trade as a pain in the neck! If by some miracle they’re made to fit, they’ll probably be leaking! All a bit of a battle, but that’s two doors and all but one or two of the windows back in their place.

Back on the Bulleids, our team of volunteers have been doing painting, painting and more painting. Especially on 1456, most items are manufactured now, such as the interior and exterior panels, fixtures and fittings, but they almost all need painting! We’ve even managed to take over some of the boilershop (well, the viewing gallery) so we can lay out a lot of the metal exterior panels for painting, but space is at a premium. On 4367, the last few bits of underframe have been brought up to undercoat today, so gloss will be on there shortly.

That’s about it for now, thanks for reading!



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