Watercress Line

Springing into Action

The Building Department fencing team have drawn swords and sprung into action  again with the onset of some better weather, and whilst the ground is still soft, in order to continue the fence line up to the exit door from the viewing gallery in the Boiler Shop. A small hiatus was caused when digging in the posts when one post hole being dug seemed to come across a large diameter electric cable. After some careful excavation by hand and fingers it was discovered that this was no more than an old discarded shovel handle- phew. This is the last length on this path and completes a long run starting from down at the loco yard. When the fence is complete we then have to construct a ramp from the walkway from the Boiler Shop viewing gallery down to the path in order to allow  wheelchair user exit from the gallery at this end without having to retrace the route back through the carriage shop gallery.. This would then enable all visitors to pass through the two viewing galleries in this building as part of the Restoration Route around the Ropley Heritage site. This route is also followed during the guided Behind the Scenes tours held on various dates during the running season- see the main web page.


A short wall was constructed in the carriage shop viewing gallery on which to place some display items and this is now painted and hosts a replica image of the original Kings Cross clock that was associated with the footbridge now gracing Ropley station. The wall also divides part of the gallery from the area showing the videos about the building of the Handyside- Kings Cross( Harry Potter) Bridge and other information about attractions on the Railway including Driving Experience days. During the other main events held on the line during the running season various stalls and displays use this area for added indoor activities.


At Alresford the staff kitchen refurbishmenmt and toilet conversion continues  with significant progress now able to be seen. I don’t think there will be a formal opening ceremony for these facilities and even if there was you could only get about 4 people in there with no room to cut a tape- or length of toilet roll. On the cattle dock the gas lamp has been fitted onto the barley twist lamp post that was erected some time ago. It sets this feature off well but a new gas supply from the station will cause some more head scratching to be done yet.


Also for Alresford we have made up some boards and part-fixed some track- should have been a PWay task really- for a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine games for use in the Old Goods Shed during the Days Out with Thomas events. The first test of these will be carried out by six year olds during the Easter Thomas period. These will provide some additional entertainment at this end of the line for children to play with in between train rides and adds to the other activities here.


Our part in the  Medstead the Goods Shed project is well into the fit out stage with the cabinets and worktop installed and the floor painted. The outer doors have been painted and the sleeper walls given a final coat of black wood preserver. The double doors at either side of the building enabled goods to be moved in by trolley from the trains and later out through the back via a small loading dock onto carts and lorries. In the background to the scheme other work is progessing with the prepartion of artefacts and display material, this will  include a visual interpretation of the operation of a country goods shed and also about the role of guards on goods trains. There will be further in-put by the Building Department in completing the exhibition of the display material over the next few weeks as we progress to the formal opening of the facility in the summer.


Bob Brooks

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