Watercress Line

Clock Movement

The two faced platform clock, originally from Aldershot station, that we erected on the waiting shelter at Ropley has been a bit poorly recently. The slave drive from the main mechanism attached to one face wasn’t able to turn the hands on the other face accurately. The clock cabinet was taken down and the mechanism was removed for investigation and it was found that the slave drive was bent and need a new coupling and other adjustments. Anyway, after several weeks and some test running in the workshop it was found to be running in tandem so it was decided to put it back. This involved a tortuous move by trolley and train- this things heavy- back to Ropley to await a staging platform and some muscle (from somewhere) to re-hang the cabinet.


On the Alresford shed scheme we are completing the fit out with new locks, guttering etc. and also gave it another coat of preservative. It was suggested that during the War On The Line event we paint it in camouflage colours but that was going a bit too far as we thought as it wasn’t a high risk target. Work now moved on to the landscaping of the front area with diamond pavers for the door front and granite setts for the entrance area. We can’t quite seem to get the optimum weather conditions for this job, as the start was delayed by rain and the Beast from The East and now we have a long period equatorial sun which just drains the energy. Thoughts are turning to doing something about protecting the chalk faces of the excavated area. The original brick shed in this ‘pit’ extended to the sides and erosion wasn’t a problem but this structure had to be demolished several years ago as it wasn’t safe.


Talking of setts, at Ropley we have managed to fit in another couple of sessions there and the new surface now extends down to the brick planter from the platform. This gives hope to the chaps on this job that things start to move towards the final segment back down to the entrance gates. There are of course a lot more sessions to go, but the transformation of this neglected area is pleasing and is in line with other areas  that are being tidied up as that rightly reflects the maturity of the Railway from the early days of just setting up.


A replacement sign has been put up under the canopy at Alresford station outside the entrance to the West Country Buffet. This has been made  from two donated original enamel Refreshment Room signs, which is the term that was used on the Southern Region for catering facilities. The signs were cleaned up and mounted in a new wooden frame and now gives a more authentic and traditional look to the buffet entrance.


At the Northside Lane foot crossing (named that way as Northside Lane is the nearest carriageway to it, but in reality the crossing is in the middle of the fields) we have laid down an ash covering at the two kissing gates and the paths leading to each side of the track. Bags of ash were delivered to site by our friends in PWay and we spread the material by shovel to give the crossing a better surface underfoot, particularly in wet weather. The ash covered area also delineates the extent of the crossing path to which walkers should restrict themselves when entering railway property. The other Stop Look and Listen sign that was refurbished in the workshop will be fixed to the rail post on the upside of the crossing, replacing the modern one which is rather scruffy and doesn’t add to the heritage look by any stretch of the imagination. When working on the crossing we notice that quite a lot of passengers on the trains spot the crossing as part of the passing scene.


A workshop job that has been going on recently is the manufacture of a memorial platform bench in memory of Peter Pretious, a former Honorary Vice President of the MHRPS. Metal brackets were fabricated by a local blacksmith and hardwood slats were shaped and painted in-house. The final assembly is now underway to get the various parts to fit together- there is a little play/sway in these items which needs a bit of jiggling (technical) to get them bolted together securely. A brass plaque has been procured the fix to the top rail on finishing construction.


A number of more mundane maintenance jobs managed to fill in the time between the major jobs- like re-fixing one of the metal cisterns to the wall having managed to be pulled off the wall in one of the cubicles in the gents lavatory at Alresford, its all grist to the mill for us. Another job was refurbishment of the last set of platform staging. We have colour coded the three sets now-grey, yellow and green so it makes it easier to pick out which section relates to which set. Before, they were all sorts of colours, or not painted or just plain rusty, so this overdue job has been carried out in the background of the larger tasks. It also makes the annual inspection checks more effective and quicker.


-Bob Brooks

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