Watercress Line

Cranes, Trains and Automobiles

Before anyone questions, yes, the title of this blog is correct. The last few weeks has been all about cranes, trains and automobiles. 

For the last month I have been working on Phase 2 of the interpretation. Phase 1 was installed in April with a more welcoming entrance and stairwell being completed in the Main Viewing Gallery. Along with additions upstairs from window graphics to feely boxes. It has been great hearing all of the positive feedback about the changes from staff and volunteers. There are always a few minor issues to smooth out but the new interpretation has been making a huge impact on the visitors.

Phase 2 of the interpretation is a bit different as this focuses on hands-on interactives and I have been very excited to share these with everyone. Installation of these took place on 24th-25th July and quickly they were capturing visitors’ interest. I am sure some of you have noticed a large covered case at the bottom of the Main Viewing Gallery, on the entrance sign. This now houses our replica goods yard crane, based off the one at Medstead and Four Marks station. If you get a chance come along and have a go raising and lowering the weight. Upstairs in the Viewing Gallery a new interactive has appeared…ever wondered how long it takes for a car and train to stop travelling 25mph. Well, now you can find out with our Stopping Distances interactive. It’s been a big hit for those who like pressing buttons! Flip books have also been installed around the Viewing Gallery with a family friendly front page and a more in-depth back page filled with stats. You might just find out which locomotive has travelled to the moon and back twice!

The biggest changes have gone on at the other end of the site. The Carriage Viewing Gallery has been given a revamp. Two wheelchair accessible lecterns have been installed outlining carriage restoration. One of the lecterns is filled with samples from the carriages from a section of rotten wood from the Bulleid carriage to seat fabric for the Mark 1 carriage. It really gives visitors the chance to get up close and touch parts of the carriages. The samples have also been really useful for the tours as we can now point out the parts we are talking about. These are not the only changes that have happened in this area. We now have a display talking about dining trains, particularly the Bournemouth Belle, which Canadian Pacific once hauled (it’s also another chance to talk about the wonderful dining experiences we run on the railway). Last but not least a new Passenger Experience interactive has been set up in the Carriage Viewing Gallery. This talks visitors through different passenger experiences from 3rd class travel to first class and why there were ladies waiting rooms. Open each door and find out about what train travel is all about.

The Boiler Viewing Gallery has been undergoing a refurbishment but we still have a few bits to finish off here so this will not be opened until these are completed. Keep your eyes peeled or ears open as all will be revealed.

There are a few bits which are still to be finished. Loco items will be placed near boards along the pathway to the Kings Cross Bridge, with the help of the Building Group. Three more interactives will be installed during the next month in the Main Viewing Gallery, so keep visiting to see the next developments.

If you get chance to wander around Ropley and check out the developments we have made to the site. We would love to hear your comments about what we have done so far, so please send these to canpac@watercressline.co.uk.

Thanks for reading, 

Becky (Project Supervisor)

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