Watercress Line

Autumn odds and ends

5 Nov

At Medstead, now the dock has been cleared, fence painted and ‘crate’ installed around the old tank, this area is now fully ready for visitor access during special events. In order to limit unauthorised access to the yard area and running line a small gate (better than the previous bit of string) has been made to shut off the platform at the country end. However, this will still enable staff to access to and from the dock and the yard as required when loading and unloading wagons etc.

The door to the disabled toilet at Alton station had deteriorated to a degree that required non-urgent replacement- not sure why it went downhill quite so quickly but it is the weather side of the building. To that end a new door had to be constructed from scratch as it is a bit of a ‘one off’ as regards size. An apprentice carpenter from the Carriage Shed team was tasked, quite a while ago now, with undertaking this as part of his training, and a very good job was made. Fitting has only just taken place by the  Building Department due to a number of other jobs having leap-frogged the carpentry work schedule and it just now just requires a final gloss coat before the winter weather really strikes.   

At Alresford we have now spread the stone chippings on the path around the new shed, finishing that job off. The ASSET (for any new readers this is the Alresford Station Site Enhancement Team) gardeners have started to lay turf over the  re-profiled embankments and smarten up the ground ready for further planting.

With work on the landscaping of the new shed area at Alresford completed as far as the Building Department are concerned we have now turned our attentions once again to other tasks on the (long) list. One of those is the building of a brick plinth for the water butt on the waiting shelter on the down platform at Medstead. The old water butt fell apart and a new one was installed but the old sleeper plinth also needed replacing as it was rotting. It was thought a brick plinth would look better and also give longer life in this very shady area- from the sun that is, not the quality of the railway personnel.

The ‘Setts Team’ also got back to Ropley to continue the laying of setts outside the Education Room entrance. This has been on hold for quite a while whilst the Alresford shed scheme was finished off as regards that type of activity. Our supply of setts donated from the Kings Cross redevelopment is starting to diminish now but we do have sufficient to complete this area. The setts have been put to good use across three main sites now and have enhanced the dock at Medstead, Alresford shed frontage and this area at Ropley, with a traditional looking surface that will last adfinitum. The re-painted and re-instated modesty screen at Ropley now looks a lot better and provides a neat background in the setts area. Slabs have also been laid within the setts to create a base for a replica concrete coal bunker to be erected- made by a volunteer in the PWay department.

The original running-in board on the London end of Alton station platform had shown signs of rot for some time and was also  on the list as an outstanding carpentry task. As the line will be cut to Alton for some time early next year due to bridge replacement works, it was thought to be a good idea to take it down now and bring it back to the workshop by train as it is both heavy and long. Now its back it can be taken apart and a new frame made, painted and fitted to the name plates over the winter period ready to be taken back by train in one of the brake carriages and re-fitted when the line re-opens again.

Bob Brooks

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