Watercress Line

In the heat

15 August

Well the hot sunny weather seemed to go on and on. All very good for getting to outside jobs but a little limiting on productivity. Frequent cooling down breaks have to be taken, and some days we just had to stop a little earlier as the late afternoon temperatures got up to 30 degrees plus. Paint was drying on the brushes virtually before being slapped (applied carefully) on various things being worked on.

At Medstead workshop jobs continued and refurbishing the final set of staging is being completed. We now have a grey, yellow and green sets- all easily recognisable as to what belongs to what. Also we were able to give the paraffin tank in the yard a re-paint, taking advantage of the good weather spell. Some time ago we installed some ex-cloakroom lockers outside in which to store kindling wood for the workshop stove, to save space inside, and these little improvements help to move towards making the yard have a better appearance from the passing trains. We are also creating a mock crate  to encapsulate (good word that) the rather sorry looking tank on the dock. We have been chewing the fat on doing that to finish things off since the crane and dock were completed.  Although  the yard and dock are a working area, and displays the sort of activities that the Building Department and others get up to, its nice to make things a little more attractive and authentic looking.

The GPO mail trolley in the workshop is starting to look like its nearing completion, as the new hardwood frame gets painted up ready to be bolted together. All the original ironwork was carefully removed from the rotten trolley, labelled and refurbished and is being re-fitted as parts are assembled. This has been a protracted job, starting last winter, and was one of those tasks which could be carried out in the workshop during the wet/cold winter months. At least it will be finished before next winter, but there are others to follow.

Due to  a slight mishap on the platform at Ropley the brick vegetable planter, that was built to involve children in a ‘Dig for Victory’ activity, as part of school visits, received a little bit of battle damage. It was considered the best way to avoid this in the future, should there be a need for vehicles to negotiate the area, was to remove the brick planter and relay that patch with setts- in the heat. A  moveable wooden planter  was placed there instead that can be moved to one side as necessary and there is space for another now as well.  Also at Ropley, the wooden fence leading up the slope from the picnic area to the toilet block needed an urgent repair before the Thomas event as a couple of the original posts  had rotted through and it was leaning and wobbly. New posts were dug in- I think I mentioned the heat- and the rails screwed back on.

We finally managed to get back to the Northside Lane foot crossing to complete our revamp of that facility. A refurbished original cast iron  Stop Look and Listen sign was fixed to the rail post on the upside and the existing sign that has graced (hardly) the crossing was removed. The spike fencing and gate were also given a final touch up of gloss paint following installation scratches and scrapes.


Bob Brooks

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