Watercress Line

On the Bench

Building Department teams who attend on various days have each had a few players on the bench in the last few weeks, and but this hasn’t stopped them playing a stirling part in things and great progress has been made. This refers to the LSWR benches, originally from Haslemere, that were donated to the Railway and needed a bit of a make over after generations of use on the big railway to bring them back to their best. The benches have been sanded down to bare wood, not sure what type of wood it is, and they are taking on a really attractive finish with the wood stain being applied. They are destined for use in the Education Room and Medstead Waiting Shelter (Downside). It has been nice to work on these outside at Medstead  on days when the weather was fine, and it also allowed some of our visitors to see the work in progress at first hand and ask about their origin. It also gives us an opportunity to talk to people and hopefully enthuse some to join us who may have an interest in the sort of heritage activities we undertake on the Railway.

At the workshop, another job that is underway is another round of platform barrow and sack trolley replacements/renovations. These useful, and visually authentic, platform artefacts  have to be regularly ‘serviced’ to keep them operational and looking their best. Some can get in quite a state being out and about in all weathers, but our in-house carpenters are up to the task of making them arise phoenix like from various states is disrepair. New wood is used where things have gone too far but the original metal fixings are cleaned up and made good for re-use.

We have now finally taken delivery of an exciting new feature for the Railway, for display on the lineside and on a station building. This is a donation t on behalf of the relatives of the late Jim Pitt as a memorial to him. It involves two replica signs advertising Hall’s distemper. The main sign is one of two workmen in decorators aprons carrying paintbrushes, pots and a ladder and we also have a smaller version of a wall sign type. The main sign will be mounted on posts on an embankment in the Ropley station area and the other will be fixed on a station wall yet to be finalised. The workmen signs were normally located in fields or on the lineside in country locations and were quite a common well-known sight from carriage windows from the 1930’s. We did a trial assembly with the sign (two pieces) face down in the yard at Medstead in order to check the location of the brackets on the support bars and on the posts before they were sent for galvanising. So, this part of the blog is just to whet the appetite before the signs are put up in all their glory to be viewed at a later date.

At Alresford we have installed new car stop signs on posts in the six foot. This is to indicate to footplate crews the optimum stop positions for 5 and 6 carriage trains so they fit the platform length correctly. The signs replace original ‘hand crafted’ versions- you know what I mean- and now match the similar signs we have installed at other stations along the line and also are  much more in the traditional style and clearer.

At times over the past few weeks several of us have been involved with the preparation of providing a power  and water supply to the miniature railway yard. For us this has primarily been to do with the laying of a plastic duct for electric services and the relevant connections to the mains supply. Recently, a hot sunny day provided the opportunity to get the last part of the trench dug through the hedge where it turns off from the lineside footpath into the yard container. As the temperature rose and the tree roots got thicker so the amount of sweat produced increase, but we prevailed in the end ready for the department electrician to do the final connections once we had pulled the cable through the duct.

Bob Brooks

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