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Getting Back To Work

1 August

Well, where were we. Since the lockdown came in rather suddenly, things have been a little quiet on the building and maintenance front, but that’s not to say everything was on hold. Some preparatory work was carried on with some items at volunteers’ homes for tasks that had been started, and were to continue once we re-opened. Since returning to the Railway these tasks have been picked up again with vigour (makes a change there then) and some good progress has been made. Also, some useful time was spent in doing a tidy up of the yard areas at Medstead, disposing of unwanted old scrap timber and metal, and re-arranging stocks in more accessible positions. Also, before the much welcome Railway re-opening we were  engaged in making and installing sanitiser points at all the stations for the Covid measures for use both by staff and visitors alike.

One main task that was started earlier in the year, is the building of a new counter for the West Country Buffet. This will form part of a radical revamp of the serving arrangements in the building, by switching the counter area through 90 degrees and increasing the surface area for machines and display of items. A new circulation route for customers will be set up utilising the double doors at the west end of the buffet as a new entrance, giving more space for queuing. A tongue and groove frontage to the counter has been made, which will compliment the bench seat built at the end of the buffet a couple of years ago. There are quite a lot of complicated services to the counter area for electrical and water supplies that will need to be completely overhauled and re-positioned for the catering machines. This is not a straight-forward operation, as the counter is on the other side of the buffet and the pipes and cables need to be discretely fed across to the new counter.

Due to the good weather, we have also managed to make good progress on refurbishment of the spiked fence panels for the foot crossing compound at Northside Lane. This has involved straightening bent spikes, welding on brackets and making and altering support posts from stock. The panels are then wire brushed to remove the old paint ready for priming and build up to gloss finish. Whilst this has been going on, and with the able assistance of the PWay Department, bags of ash have been filled from Ropley and taken to the crossing in order to level the site and create a safer surface area. More good weather we hope will make the installation a more pleasant task.

At Alton, in conjunction with the station team,  we have completed the external transformation of the kiosk into a replica W H Smith kiosk by the addition of an authentic looking bill board for the front wall. This will have appropriate headline posters inserted to finish the appearance. At Ropley, we have- finally- installed another bench on the lineside walk alongside the miniature railway. This was made from a piece of hardwood we had in stock and the supports are two redundant monuments normally associated with permanent way track layouts. It is positioned where there are pleasant views of the countryside and the passing trains and a nice place for a sandwich. Some of us look out for benches to have a sit down more regularly now. Also at Ropley, a new sign has been erected at the station end of the top car park as part of the upgraded signage that was started last year.

So, getting back to work is most welcome and the chaps are feeling a sense of achievement again in what we can do to continue with the improvements to the Railway.

Bob Brooks

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