Watercress Line

May 22nd Round Up

Technical computer problems- not a cyber attack- has delayed the Building Department blog for a couple of weeks but a round up of fairly recent events is included now.
At Ropley the fencing team have now completed the run of panels up to the exit bridge from the Boiler Shop Viewing Gallery. What remains to be done now is to form a ramp from the step from the exit platform on to the path in order to provide wheelchair use on this part of the Restoration Route. Reclaimed timber  was used to form some support shuttering for building up an ash ramp from the step edge to give a suitable gradient of slope. The planks are the left-overs from previous jobs around the Railway and we managed to salvage them before the chaps with the chains saws got to grips with cutting them up. The ground behind the new fence has been given a clear up of debris and vegetation and will initially be left in a state for natural vegetation re-growth. Concrete slabs
Taking advantage of some good weather the final external job on the Medstead Goods Shed was a re-paint of the corrugated iron sheet roof. This gives a finishing touch to the external view and brings this structure in line with the on-going redecoration of the station buildings and fences carried out both by the Building Department and the station maintenance team. Also at Medstead , following the installation of the downside up starter signal post, the ramp at the London end of the platform has been extended. The ramp previously only reached to halfway across the trolley crossing due to the encroachment of the embankment at this point. With the excavation needed for the installation of the new signal post this gave the opportunity to move the end of the ramp close to the post and gave a better, and safer, swing onto the trolley crossing. The chalk spoil was tamped down , a layer of ash spread over and tamped and finally a layer of tarmac applied and now looks a lot neater and gives a better swing to barrows being taken across the lines.
Still on signalling matters. A new panel has been installed in the temporary signal box as part of the preparation for the main signalling project yet to start.  The supplementary panel in the temporary signal box at Medstead is positioned above the working panel and has been made to give the signalman at Medstead a view of the signalling situation at Alton, particularly when Alton is working in the unmanned automatic mode. Mark Walden has made the cabinet, which Chris Hunt has wired up, and the panel itself has been made by Parc Signs of St Austell in Cornwall. The panel is a fine looking piece of kit and will be transferred into the original signal box once the scheme is complete.
At Alresford, the staff toilet and kitchen up-grade scheme has virtually been completed as to the involvement of the Building Department. New tiling has been fixed behind the new work top and new floor covering laid- replacing the old and much derided previous floor covering. The station ASSET team will undertake repainting of the area once a few alterations are made to the electrical  supply. The  finished job will give a greatly improved look to this area of the main station building and a welcome in-door facility in the form of the new toilet. It also provides a more professional view from the entrance to the building for people going to the offices up the staircase, which has also received a re-paint fairly recently.
At Alton, at the other end of the line, the work to repair the porch to the signal box has made good progress due to the fine weather we have had over the last few weeks. Much of this was done without photo coverage due to photo engagements at the other end of the line. The main wooden support beam has been replaced by a steel beam as the original wooden support beam was not exactly doing its function, to say the least due to rot, but the structure was sound enough due to the other woodwork holding things in place. The floorboards of the porch have also been replaced as part of the job in order that the external panelling can now descend past the end of the boards to deflect the rain off together with a lead sheet.. The ‘after’ photos show the completed work and the scrap wood shows part of that removed. Following this job it is intended to re-paint the whole signal box, it being several years since this was done.
Bob Brooks

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