Watercress Line

Another contract won

Our gang that undertook the ‘sub-contracted’ work for the S&T department excavating a base for the new electric light signal in the Shrave Cutting did such a good job that they ‘won’ the contract for excavating a base for another signal. This one is at the London end of the down platform at Medstead where a semaphore type new up-starter signal is to be installed in order to allow bi-directional running through the station, as is now operational at Ropley since the new system was commissioned there a year or so ago. In order to get the correct sight lines and regulation distances from the running line the embankment is having to be cut back before the hole is dug. Unlike the hole in the Shrave Cutting, where the ground was mainly clay and flint, this one is through virgin chalk and is therefore a lot harder- although much brighter to work on, especially when the sun hits it. A Kango hammer was required for this dig as the chalk was surprisingly hard at this point. The job also gave a hint of a snow scene for the Santa Special passengers who gave the lads a cheery festive wave as they passed.

In the workshop the new door for the disabled toilet at Ropley station has had the various elements put together, glazed and painted up ready to install. This is another non-standard sized replica door- the other was the shop door- which should give long service for many a year. This will be installed when the Santa Specials are not running. Also, stored against it in the workshop are some new doors for preparation to be part of the fit out of the Goods Shed at Medstead. When complete the part  glazed doors will be positioned inside the original shed doors to provide daylight illumination inside the shed. These doors will be able to be closed when the building is accessible for visitors without reducing the lighting level and to keep the interior warm and dry (no windows in this building). The original outer doors can be opened and pinned back during normal opening and will provide a secure exterior when the building is locked up.

We have also been doing a few jobs in the Education Room at Ropley for the Education and Interpretation Officer- nice and warm in there. We have adapted some donated  interpretation boards which illustrate some historical information on the London and South Western Railway and mounted them on the wall for easy viewing. A short panel has been made up of original LSWR dragons teeth from Broadstone station canopy have been painted in the LSWR colours that were used before the 1923 grouping, and which were used to paint the Ropley station canopy when the MHR first renovated it back in the late 1970’s. This panel has been put up and will be explained in text to be displayed in some further panels to inform visitors about the LSWR. Also an original LSWR boundary post that has been renovated and fixed to the wall as an example of what was planted in the ground by the LSWR to designate Railway land either side of rail routes. They were painted red in order that they could be more clearly seen amongst the lineside vegetation.

Bob Brooks

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