Watercress Line

July miscellany

The replacement shop door for Ropley has now been treated and painted in the workshop ready to be taken to the station for hanging. So a nice dry day is called for together with two or three chaps  to  provide a bit of additional entertainment for the visitors watching their efforts. A bit of final touching up of the paintwork to follow and you would never know the difference from the original.  We try wherever possible to keep original features repaired and in situ but there comes a time where this is no longer practical but we then use the originals to produce accurate replicas.
At Alton, having installed the replacement hot water tank we turned our attention to rehanging the gates that form part of the fence line between the MHR platform and the Network Rail platform. The gates had sagged and bottomed due to the wooden support posts having rotted somewhat from the concrete posts to which they are attached. New wooden supports have been made, treated, painted and bolted to the concrete posts, which themselves are in good nick and date back some time into the history of the station and were brought into play when the main station platform 2 was divided from the MHR platform 3. The gates were rehung and a little touch up painting applied to the brackets and pintels -job done. Although the gates aren’t used regularly they provide a useful alternative option should there be any problems with the other entrances. We haven’t been down that end of the platform for quite a while to do anything- it is also about the farthest east that the tentacles of the  Building Department normally reach on the line- so it was a pleasant change, and also the job was carried out in a bit of half reasonable weather for change which helped- can’t wail ‘til summer comes.
The first of the bespoke (read -odd shaped) fence panels made to fit the path side of the Harry Potter bridge have been primed with red oxide, undercoated, glossed and installed on the posts that were put in previously to establish the dimensions required. With the work being undertaken by the Ropley Wednesday Gang on this pathway this part of the station complex is starting have a finished look in-keeping with the other areas that have been completed. There is quite a lot of paintwork on the bridge, steps, slopes and fences to be maintained now and a regular programme of repainting will need to be set up to keep it looking the business- a bit of a Forth Bridge scenario (until they used the latest paint scheme which is meant to last about 25 years).
At Medstead we have slowly begun to make a start on the refurbishment of the goods shed on the up platform. Having been used for years as a store for platform artefacts and as a painting facility it will be transformed into a ‘traditional’ representation of a country station goods shed, but more on this as the scheme develops. The Building Department have started by removing the life expired battens which covered the gaps between the vertical sleepers which form the external walls of the structure. Black protective wood preserver has been applied to the edges of the sleepers before the new battens, also so treated, are fixed. Work on this scheme will take several months to complete and then there will be the fitting out with appropriate displays to inform visitors about the way such a goods shed operated in days of yore.
Bob Brooks

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