Watercress Line

Hanging gardens of Medstead

We have a had a little departure from the normal activities of the Building Department recently to assist the S&T Department to start work on a new colour light signal for the Medstead re-signalling project for installation in the Shrave cutting. The post and platform were stored in the lower yard but after many years were buried by a combination of wrought iron spiked fencing panels, scrap wood, metal and a luxuriant (very) growth of ivy. All this had to be cut back and removed to get to the necessary items, and the usual tools of  drills, hammer screwdrivers and the like were swapped for shears, loppers and bow saws. A couple of shots of the end result show a newly cleared space in the yard and the post and platform in the upper yard where they can be worked on. The task was a bit overdue anyway as regards a tidy up of the lower yard and we can now get to other things easier and have a bit more space to operate in- if it doesn’t get filled up with ‘stuff’ again.


Also at Medstead the mid-week teams have been beavering away at the Goods Shed project in order to transform the structure into an informative representation of a country goods shed and how in would have operated. The fairly unique building needs a lot of work to not only ensure the structure remains sound but also to create a platform to display the original artefacts and information that will form the feature. The floor inside has now been screeded, the electrics removed for re-installation in a different layout and the sleeper walls have continued to be coated with preservative and the joints covered with battens.


A ‘fill in’ workshop job, one of many that get done in between larger tasks, is the renovation of railway signs. This original sign has been painted up and is now installed on the lamproom at Ropley. Another of these jobs is the start to re-organise the inside of the workshop to make better use of the limited space. This has started by the sorting out and re-stacking the metal stock and making the metal frame bench removable when not used for any fabrication work. Parts of the floor not seen for years have appeared and some chaps just stood and stared at this incredible sight- they don’t get out much. This job will run and run for a while and get tackled in those quite moments between tea breaks.


The brick work for the floral feature at Ropley moves along with the lower screening wall  and the raised bed walls completed. Reclaimed yellow capping bricks were sourced to give contrasting courses and which match a feature seen on the original station building. Apparently they were in a building supplies yard but had to be got at by hacking into some undergrowth where they have lain for some considerable time. They add an authentic and pleasing touch to the feature. It now just awaits the tender attention of the Wednesday gang to add the growing material- drainage gravell, soil and compost I assume- and planting out with appropriate shrubs and flowers. Drainage from the bed is achieved by the small pipes built into the walls at the base of the raised bed.

The hoop top fence panels for the topiary tree corner  near the floral feature have now  been installed as part of the renovation of this part of the down platform. There isn’t much more we can do in this area really until the new water pipe excavation and laying is completed later in the year, when the laying of the granites setts can start in earnest. At the other end of the station building the external shop door at Ropley has now been fitted. New glass was used for the window panels in the end as the best option. Hopefully this will give as long a service as the previous one did, having come originally from Waterloo East station, but now be a bit more watertight.

Bob Brooks

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