Watercress Line

Building Department have no stile

With the able assistance of our friends in PWay we took to site the various components for the kissing gate for the upside of the foot crossing at Northside Lane. We followed this up with a tooled up team to fit the fence panels and gate in position. We had to remove the original stile and one of the original concrete posts as that was in the way of the fence panel, but it was broken off at the top anyway and didn’t do anything for the old decrepit wooden stile at that point. The ground had been levelled previously so the whole gate structure could be installed on a flat area. A fair weather day was chosen for the erection as it is quite an exposed site and work commenced first with demolition and then construction. Holes were filled in where the stile and post were extracted and new holes dug to fit the new posts.


Everything fitted together well and we managed to get the construction part of the job completed within the day. We even had two ‘ ladies who walk with dogs’ come and be the first users and were very complimentary about the new facility. There is a bit of post- no pun intended- touch up painting to do and another original cast iron Stop Look and Listen sign to go up, which will be done in the next few weeks. We hope to get some large bags of ash to the site later to give the access on both sides a better surface, as the ground gets quite muddy on wet weather. There is a reasonable amount of foot traffic across the crossing, particularly during the summer months and the ground has sunk slightly and there is no grass cover left.


With the wet weather finally abating we have ordered the new shed for the excavated site alongside the path leading  to the picnic area at Alresford. We didn’t want to order it to early if we couldn’t get the shuttering for the base set up and the concrete base poured, as we didn’t want it just lying around. The weather over the last few weeks of February, March and into April played havoc with a proposed start date. We needed the exact size of the floor sections so we could create a base where the sides of the shed slightly overhang the base in order to allow rain to flow over the side and not pond underneath. This should prolong the life of the shed, especially the floor and support joists. Guttering and downpipes will be fitted to further disperse water from the roof into soak aways. After extensive research we located a shed that had a good specification as to wood thickness and strength and also within budget. We have some diamond patterned pavers in stock, left over from a previous job, and will use those together with granite setts to create a traditional look entrance area for the shed after construction.


A small team visited Alresford and constructed the shuttering for the base and laid in a damp proof sheet, cut the reinforcing mesh to size and fitted that on the support castles to give it the correct spacing within the concrete. We will return shortly and carry out the concrete pour which will cure for a week before shed construction starts. Also at Alresford, another team completed the repair to the support columns on concrete lineside huts in the Belle siding, which now look in good shape to last for years to come.


At Ropley the saga of the setts continues as we swing across the platform to start on the other side of the area outside the Education Room. We have manged to make progress on this scheme in short bursts during the winter months when conditions were favourable- and sometimes even when the weren’t- but we should make faster progress on this side now as it will be tackled during summer months. Hopefully, we will be is a position to get the tarmac area in the centre laid later in the year to provide not only a smoother walking surface for visitors but also make this area look more part of the station proper. Also, at Ropley our woodworking team completed the replacement of the signalmans’ crossing walkway. The previous one had passed its sell by date and was a bit spongy to say the least. We have also been approached to extend this down the six foot for some distance to accommodate the signalman being able to better reach six carriage trains which pull up further in the up platform.


Busy busy as they say, but also fun with it all as humour abounds- when we get our breathe back that is.


Bob Brooks

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