Watercress Line

Jack Frost at Alton

A urgent call was received to say the feed pipe to the water column at Alton station had split in the frosty weather, probably as it was not drained. The offending pipe was removed but the years had taken their toll and it had also had a previous weld repair. The decision was easily taken to condemn the pipe and new one was required to be made up. Our friends in the loco shed played a blinder and a new pipe was quickly prepared and threaded ready to fit on our next visit to Alton.


Well, we managed to get the Ropley footbridge back into operation for the Early Spring Gala- just, using the greater majority of our resources and only with assistance from teams from other departments. That meant we could start to return our attentions back to other matters, just a few on the list -and growing.


The wet and frosty weather, and the Beast, played havoc with the timetable on the repairs to the concrete lineside huts in the Alresford headshunt, and to some other concreting jobs we have lined up. We recently managed to get back to those when the weather picked up a bit and the repairs to the huts is starting to look pretty good. We hope this will extend the life of these heritage structures for a long time.


The inclement weather did in fact help in progressing the refurbishment and numbering up of the staging units as we could carry on with that job in the workshop, with the stove going nicely to help dry the paint. In addition we managed to forge ahead with the repairs to yet another platform trolley, this time from Alton. The wooden slats were beyond saving so new wood will be inserted on the frame that has been stripped back and in the throes of re-painting.  These  were jobs we could do as well whilst the gala was on, which limits some of our other outside activities somewhat. Another inside job has been the preparation of some fence posts to erect a chain fence behind the excavation for a new hut in the bank leading to the picnic area at Alresford. This will be both decorative and a safety barrier around the excavation.


At Ropley we did manage to get a little more done on the laying of setts as that was not so weather dependent and we could protect that more easily as only small areas were tackled each time. We have constructed a small raised planting trough alongside the buggy park canopy , similar in design to the floral feature created over the well. This is intended to be used by school children visits for planting flowers/vegetables in conjunction with school party visits. We also added a bit more colour to the station with the erection of some more refurbished enamel signs from the past. They add even more interest to visitors and a lot of photos are taken of them individually as well as enhancing photos of the station scene.


We have been asked to carry out an inside task in the West Country Buffet at Alresford  to create a traditional style bench seat against the end wall that displays some of our heritage railway signs. This will give a more traditional look  and provide more convenient seating for customers at that end of the room. Most of the wood for the bench was found from stock, to help with costs. Some additional new wood was required to complete the design and again it was a nice inside job to work on with the Beast from the East descending on the Railway. Another shelf table is to be made to fit into a corner of the buffet to provide a further couple of places for customers.

Bob Brooks

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