Watercress Line

So that’s settled then

3 April

The landscaping of the platform area outside the Education Room at Ropley station has now been completed in respect of the laying of setts. A feature of several dividing bands of setts have been laid across the centre path to break up the view and the un-surfaced areas were then finished with a tarmac surface to blend with the platform. Now completed, this provides a much more user friendly and attractive surface underfoot in this busy area of the station circulation, as the before and after shots show, particularly from a previous photo from a couple of years ago. This has been a quite lengthy job, taking about 18 months or so, as many interruptions have occurred when more pressing jobs had to be tackled, and of course the odd spell of inclement weather. Fortunately, this job was one that could be carried out in small sections and could be ‘parked’ temporarily without interfering with normal business at Ropley.

At Medstead station contractors have erected scaffolding to facilitate the re-roofing project of the station building. The roof has been causing problems for a while now due to the original slates degrading to a point where there were loose and or no longer fully watertight and it was time to take action to protect the building. This was a task a little too large for in-house resources to tackle and we had to involve specialist contractors to carry out the task. In addition, during the initial survey it was found that the chimney stack for the station masters office and the porters room was in need of rebuilding and also the chimney posts were cracked. The stack was rebuilt using a mixture of original and new bricks a replacement pots were added. This should see the roof and chimney last another 150 years or so with a bit of luck.

The second train watering hose-reel cover for Alresford has progressed well in the workshop, in between other tasks, and has now be installed in situ on the platform. Some final painting is required to complete this one, which looks very neat, and then efforts move onto the next one required at Alton. This last version will be slightly different as the hose reel is bolted to the spiked fencing between platforms 2 and 3, so some frost protection will be required to cover the back of the hose reel.

More before and after shots show another job completed for Alton. This was the replacement and up-grade to the train watering supply in the chamber between the tracks. For some time the original water pipes were detached due to rusted through brackets from the support plate and the valves were operated by some very old and stiff taps. New pipes were installed, fixed to a refurbished support plate with new brackets, and easier to operate valves with levers added.

At Ropley new toilet signs have been produced to replace the ‘non-railway‘ type that have been up for several years. The previous plastic sheet versions were looking a bit scruffy and were also a little out of place in the heritage environment. The new ones both look more the part and do the function of directing visitors to the toilet block on the Watercress Lodges site. Another similar sign has yet to be completed and installed to finish the directions -so no excuse for not finding them.

A further sign has been placed on the up-side kissing gate entrance to the foot crossing at Northside Lane. The Beware Trains sign reinforces the need for walkers to be vigilant and to cross with caution at this point and is visible to them for some distance as they approach the crossing. Further work will take place at this location to further improve the ‘crossing experience’.

Bob Brooks

Photo gallery