Watercress Line

Piped aboard

A non-running season job that has been planned for some time is the replacement of the water pipe feeding to the signal box at Ropley. An old galvanised pipe led from the station building to the box and was slowly degrading and leaking and would not last much longer without giving major problems. The pipe is an important one as it feeds the Tea Junction and toilet block on the up-side of the station. The pipe from the box to these two structures is in new plastic pipe and is fine. As the route of the old pipe crosses the area outside the Education Room entrance, where we have built the new flower feature, we needed to do the replacement before that area is surfaced with recovered setts from the Kings Cross refurbishment project. A trench had to be dug to lay the new pipe at the right depth and a mini digger was brought in to do the job. This was co-ordinated with it being used to do trench work in the six foot through the station to deal with drainage issues there and also in the loco yard- yes co-ordination is alive and well. The good old pick and shovel was not up to this job – disappointment was rife.


The best route for this was established to be run from inside the ladies toilet in the station building and a hole was drilled through the wall to feed the pipe through from a connection behind the wall panelling. The pipe then goes underground on a route we marked out across the entrance area to the Education Room and along the down platform to the signal box locking room to be connected to the new plastic pipe which heads over to the Tea Junction and toilet block on the up side. After the trench had been dug and pipe laid it was back filled, with what looked like porridge in the rain, and this will be left to settle and be re-tamped to get a firm surface on which to start to lay the tarmac and granite setts in the near future. Hopefully, we- that is others in the future- will not need to visit this job again for many a year and much water will pass before that.


Still on the waterfront (not the 1954 American crime film) we have been asked by the S&T Department to bale them out- literally. When we have wind blown rain from the west the water from the gable end of the S&T building at Medstead runs down onto the concrete slab outside the double doors and floods back into the workshop. On some occasions this has extended through into the storeroom, a good inch or more deep. To help keep their little tootsies dry we are installing a channel drain just outside the door to take the water to a soak away in the embankment at the back of the building. There will need to be a little work done to the wooden door frame afterwards as the standing water in the past hasn’t done the bottom section of this any good.


At Medstead the Goods Shed project moves along nicely with the ceiling now  boarded and the walls lined with membrane, insulation and starting to be finished with wall board. The internal face of the walls is being completed in this fashion in order to provide a warm and dry atmosphere in which to house the artefacts and displays for visitors to explore and interact with- it has also meant that the chaps have been able to work in more pleasant conditions. The mdf boards are being routed to replicate a tongued and grooved finish which we have successfully used in other locations on the Railway when undertaking enhancement projects to give a traditional looking finish. The original sleeper walls which have been renovated will still be seen on the exterior but previously they  made it rather draughty and damp inside and would not be conducive to keeping the displays in good nick. We presume these conditions were sufficient enough before for its function as a country goods shed, when the commodities would only have been stored temporarily during transit.



Bob Brooks

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