16th Dec 2020 in Buildings
The work on the buffet counter and redecoration has managed to be continued in stages and the final unveiling in situ of the counter has taken place, just in time for the Illuminations trains starting. The room has been greatly transformed from the original appearance created during the early days of the Railway back in the early 1980’s. It is now representative of the high standard heritage appearance of the Railway along the whole of the line, and reflects how far things have developed over the decades due to the dedication of so many volunteers and staff past and present.
It took some time to take down and replace from the walls of the buffet all the railway artefacts that have been gathered over the years and displayed. Photos were taken before removal so we knew where things had come down from and could go back in the same place, however, due to the repositioning of the counter and chiller cabinets some alteration to layout was necessary in some instances. The items on the walls and the traditional gas lamp lighting give a pleasant heritage ambiance for customers taking refreshments and meals in the buffet- well worth a visit both by travelling passengers and visitors to the town. The screens made to enable the buffet to comply with Covid requirements have been taken to Alresford and arranged throughout the dining area to create suitable social distancing.
Further to the enhancement of the entrance area to the top car park at Ropley, the additional signage to welcome visitors has now been finished and installed on the outer fence panels and gates. These should make the arrival of visitors a little more informative and welcoming than previously. There is some more improvement work to do in this area but we will have to pick the appropriate spells of reasonable weather to carry this out, so it will probably extend into next year when things pick up in that line.
At Alresford, another small team managed to find a gap in the wet weather to continue with the laying of the concrete surface at the back of the West Country Buffet. This will greatly improve the appearance of this area, and give more workable space . A second area is now underway for similar treatment, and third envisaged, to create a continuous surface along the whole area for staff access. As said, all these pieces of work slowly add to the infrastructure improvements carried out by generations of volunteer teams since the inception of the Mid Hants railway- and long may it continue.
As well as work actually taking place on the Railway, the second lockdown gave the opportunity for some homework tasks to be undertaken by some of the volunteers. A new sign for the Alresford platform was made, to be placed when train watering pipes are being used (the old one being very tatty and unreadable). Also, an original cast iron sign was renovated and has been welded to the new fence panels as Northside Lane foot crossing, both as a feature of interest and a gentle reminder about trespassing on the line.
A merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year to All