Watercress Line

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the Watercress Line Mid Hants Railway is temporarily closed to the public. The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our most important consideration. You will know that the Watercress Line relies on ticket revenue to cover its operational costs, which currently work out more than £75,000 a month. Without money coming in from running services, the railway is eating into its financial reserves to survive. If you can help, please click on the Virgin Money Giving link below which allows you to donate a single amount or pay monthly if you're able to. You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10, texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message. Thank you for continuing to support us during this unprecedented situation. We hope to be able to welcome you back to the Watercress Line soon.

Ropley Mountain Rescue

It was back to Ice Station Ropley during the last week here in the carriage shop! As temperatures plummeted alongside the snow fall, work was definitely interrupted, but with good reason. I hope that you all stayed safe during the testing weather. On coming into work today (Monday 5th) the snow up Bighton Hill to our car park was drifted up even higher than my car on either side, quite dramatic really!

Since the last carriage workshop update things have moved forward in their usual manner. On the Bulleid coach we appear to be in one of those strange phases where lots of work is being done in the background, that will suddenly allow a huge amount of very visual changes to happen in quick succession. The installation of the new roof is very nearly done. This will allow Graham and Norman to leap into action and begin the wiring of the carriage lighting and PA systems. The roof will also allow the re-installation of the toilet compartments, as these are screwed into the ceiling, which fits into – you guessed it – the roof.

Once the wiring is largely plumbed in, then we are able to install the ceiling. This might sound a strange item to put in next, but due to the cumbersome size of the sheets used for the ceiling, we’ve found it easier to put these in place using large formers which we wind into place with sash clamps that poke out of the window spaces. Obviously, we can’t do this once the window frames and panel work is put on the carriage as we don’t want to damage them, so ceiling it is first! And once the ceiling is in... on go the panels!

Having the panels on will obviously be the biggest visual change of all, and it really isn’t far away. This will of course cause the casual observer to ask us if the carriage is finished. It won’t be, but it will be very nice for everybody to see it looking the part again! There will be an awful lot of screws to put in, but it will be worth it.

Talking of the panels and the window frames, we’ve had a massive amount of help from our friends down at Eastleigh works, who are normally working on the mechanical overhaul of Canadian Pacific, the locomotive side of the project that the two Bulleid coaches are part of. The guys have been up to solder the window frames to the panels. This forms both a watertight seal and a nice visual finish to the panel work, and they finished the final window for both the Bulleid coaches a couple of hours before this blog was written. Nice work chaps! The panels are now upstairs in our new mezzanine level being painted, and hopefully not too long until they are installed.

Over on the MK1, Rob has soldiered on with the country end. This is now largely dismantled, and has obviously had the attentions of the needle gun gang, having been stripped back to bare metal and a bit of primer splashed around in the underframe area. There are a few more places where the panel work needs some TLC, but in general this end appears in better condition than the London end did.

That’s about it for now! Thanks for reading.



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