Watercress Line

Summer has passed

Well Autumn loomed all too quickly but it seems that summer didn’t pass without a fight and we have done quite well  with the weather on our working days this summer and managed to achieve quite a bit on the scheduled jobs from the work list. We also managed to do some housekeeping in between by sorting out our various stocks and starting the alterations to the workshop layout. Some new noticeboards have been made and others renovated and some newly acquired posters have been put up to replicate original style posters of past railway advertising, like the new one at Alresford. Also some enamel advertising signs that have been renovated in the workshop and now  added onto the Old Goods Shed. The shop signs have now been taken down and are underway for their refurbishment as they were looking somewhat unattractive. The winter work jobs are now on the radar so we gear up for those- they are much the same as the summer jobs but carried out with thick high viz coats on and with more breaks for a hot cup of tea.
We have decided to panel the dock yard gates at Medstead with galvanised steel wire mesh to give a more authentic appearance and to provide added security. They  were originally made in-house to replicate level crossing gates but now serve as the entrance gates for vehicles to the dock area. The recent tidy up of the lower yard  revealed some galvanised wire mesh panels in good nick, of which we were completely unaware, having been overgrown with ivy. The panels have been there since before the limited memory recall of current volunteers- getting even more limited. Memory spans covering ‘where did I put that hammer/ screwdriver/gloves down’ are about the limit these days. The mesh panels have been treated with Mordant solution and painted up to white gloss as original gates were so cladded. This will be a no cost solution ( virtually) to the gates, quite a pleasant surprise for once.  At the same time of preparation for installing the mesh panels we decided to give the gates a makeover so everything matched the same level of decoration. It just remains for the panels to be fixed in place.
A recent donation of some original Southern level crossing gates, but in rather poor condition, had an original lamp bracket fixed to them. As we had to remove this from the rotten top beam of the gates we thought it might be an opportunity to renovate and repair this and fix it to the yard gates as an added feature during the revamp of those. As we have an original level crossing gate lamp in stock, that will be also be repaired and renovated as well for display on the bracket during Railway events.
We have also been doing some sub-contracted work on behalf of the S&T Department by doing some digging work for the installation of some new signal post for the Medstead and Four Marks signalling scheme. The embankment in the Shrave cutting is being dug back slightly and a hole dug for wooden shuttering to be sunk in ready for a concrete pour. Strangely the ground wasn’t the virgin chalk that was expected but was mainly clay and flint. We thought that being in a deep cutting through a South Down it would be chalk as all the high embankments are on each side, but there you go it was sticky clay for the most part and you gained a couple of inches in height as it got stuck to the bottom of boots.
Bob Brooks

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