Watercress Line

Building Department Blessed

5 June

The Alton water tank refurbishment has been blessed with good weather from the start, so no time has been lost to rain. Sunday and mid-week teams from the Building Department and Alton station staff have moved the job along very well and things soon began to look promising. We found a lot of the paint required we already had in stock, saving additional expense for the project and the finished gloss coat looks very smart. When we have finished the painting, and some other refurbishment, the Carriage Shop team are going to be fitting a metal cover to the top of the tank. Some preparatory work was done to drill fixing holes for the bolts and moving the tank water gauge pulley so the strut positions for the cover could be measured. The struts and panels will be manufactured at Ropley works and components put together on site at Alton. The cover should prevent the build up of weed and sludge inside the tank caused by sunlight, leaves, dead pigeons, dust and the like getting to the stored water.

The third, and final, train watering cabinet -this one for Alton has progressed in the workshop between other tasks and the component parts painted up ready for taking to site for assembly. Without train transport at the moment to Alton, the various sections were taken up by truck and manhandled by trolleys to the Mid Hants Railway on platform 3. They remain stored pending construction in due course to provide frost protection to the train watering hose reel point adjacent to the storeroom.

A warm afternoon encouraged us to lay some anti-slip felt on the sleeper steps leading from the upper car park to the Harry Potter bridge. During a previous visit in the winter, tackling another job, it was noticed that the sleepers had worn smooth and when damp they were quite slippery. The felt is of a type used on various other wooden surfaced areas on the Railway and is very effective and hard wearing. A surface of smaller chippings has been spread over the steps to give a more even surface than the rougher car park covering material previously there and makes the steps more attractive between the flower beds.

A number of ‘A’ boards have been made in the workshop for Alresford station for a variety of uses such as to display menus for the West Country Buffet, footplate experience rides and other activities. The boards have been designed to take removable panels so that easier changes can be made from day to day about the activities and events happening. They look more professional than previous methods and some old ‘A’ boards were getting rather tatty. The boards were put into use straightaway, particularly for showing directions for the re-launch day of the Urie locomotive 30506 after restoration.

Another upgrade to signage at Ropley to a more heritage look has been the installation of two more signs prepared in-house. One is to give additional visual direction to the toilet block on the station upside that can be seen from platform level, and the other points out the slope available as an alternative to the steps at the ‘Harry Potter’ bridge leading to the carriage shop viewing gallery. More to follow on this work.

Bob Brooks

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