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.

Rounding off the year

1 Jan.

At Alresford, following the installation of the new bench seat and some other items in the West Country Buffet it was decided to apply a new washable coat of emulsion to the lower part of the dining area walls. A thin dado rail was installed to create a level to which the paint will be applied and this will enable an easier refresh of the walls in future, as it is only the lower portion that gets the major wear and tear with knocks and chips (not the cooked variety). The work was carried out during closed hours so the smell of paint could disperse as much as possible, although the aroma of the excellent bacon rolls would soon overlay that. 

Following the alteration to the train watering hose reels at Alresford new cabinets are being constructed to give protection from frost and also to give a tidier appearance to the station platform. There were two cabinets previously covering these reels but over time they had become in need of major repair and also a little unsightly. The new cabinets will be of a tighter fit to the hose reels and will therefore give slightly more platform space and have a more traditional appearance. Also, following the replacement of the Lamp Room window at Medstead station preparatory work has just started on some replacement windows for the station building itself, more on this next time.

Some time ago a requirement came to us from the Marketing Team to construct a new display and leaflet board for the Old Goods Shed at Alresford, The aim of this is to provide a display of information more specifically about the Railway, its attractions and events on the line. A board that was more in-keeping with the heritage style of the Railway was required to display posters and leaflets and a wooden construction, painted in the appropriate colour, was devised. Some serious maths was required to get everything to fit into the dimensions of the board. Work started in the workshop at Medstead on design and construction with a dedicated team ( just 2) working on it for continuity to ensure dimensions etc didn’t go off track. 

Tentative (very) preparatory work has re-started on the project to create an interactive working signal box at Ropley for visitors to experience how signals, points etc. were operated in a past era. The redundant box that was brought to the railway some years ago from Great Missenden has remained relatively untouched whilst plans and designs have been slowly drawn up. A concrete base was laid some time ago in the picnic area and in the next few months the Building Department will start to build the walls of the locking room on which the box will eventually be positioned. Currently, the loose timbers from the box have been brought back to the workshop to be cleaned and made good ready for re-use where possible, or to be used as templates where replacement timbers are needed.  A lengthy and complex project will engage several departments for quite a while when we get into gear on it, but will eventually be a superb additional attraction to the Ropley experience.

A little further along the picnic area at Ropley a team tackled and levelled some sunken block paving and slabs outside the counter area of the T Junction refreshment cabin. These were noticed to have become sunken and uneven over the last year, probably due to the rain water falling from the counter canopy. We are currently doing some measuring and planning to install some guttering and drainage to channel the bulk of the rain water into a soak away to prevent further erosion and also to help keep customers to the cabin drier in the odd dampish days we do experience from time to time..

On the inside of the station building at Ropley, in the Ladies Waiting Room, the skirting board on the window wall was seen to be bowing away from the wall and when investigated it was found that the board behind the paint had ‘lost its nature’ and needed a total replacement. The wall was repaired and sealed with a water-proof coating before the new skirting was fixed to prevent such a deterioration in the future- you now can’t see the join (old Morecambe and Wise expression).  

Finally, we hope all our readers had Merry Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year and the Building Department hope to inform and entertain you further in 2019.

Bob Brooks

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