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Under the Lamplight

September

 

 Just as an example of the many ‘bits and bobs’ we get involved in along the line was the replacement of a glass panel in one of the bridge lanterns at Ropley footbridge. One of the glass panels was dislodged during the storms earlier in the year and a temporary cover put in place. The lanterns are very exposed on top of the bridge parapets and get the full force of the gales. This needed to be replaced before the winter weather set in again, so platform staging was brought from Medstead and was erected to gain safe access to sort the problem out. It all takes time, but it is essential work to maintain things operationally, and in this case to ensure lighting on the bridge during the dark winter evenings. Another lantern head was returned to its post further along the platform, as that had also suffered a bit in the extreme wind. More on lighting saw work at Medstead footbridge, where the two bridge lamps were taken down to have the swan necks reduced in height slightly to aid easier and safer maintenance and bulb changing. Whilst the lamps were down the enamel lampshades were given a bit of TLC, as they had been long exposed to the elements on the heights of Medstead.

 

  Earlier in the month saw us taking the dismantled parts of the new serving counter down to the West Country Buffet for storage and ready for installation following the required preparatory works. The trial assembly in the workshop told us that it would all go together correctly, but we couldn’t take it to site as a complete unit due to both size and weight. All the various components were taken apart and marked clearly for re-assembly. A dry day was needed for the operation as the counter top was to be transport externally by road, but it safely arrived without harm and has been ‘stored’ in the buffet with the other items to be ready to hand when work starts.

 

  The removal of the counter from the workshop at Medstead finally created space for the next significant woodwork project to begin. This is the construction of a replacement balustrade for the footbridge at Ropley, this time on the up side. We replaced one on the downside about four years ago, after over thirty years life, which had finally expired due to rot across several areas mainly because all the angles in the traditional design do create some water traps. There are a lot of quite complex joints to be made in making one of these things, which involves a quantity of head-scratching to work out- the sawdust around the area was not the result of this though. A full-size drawing of the unit was made on sheets of plywood so that the various pieces of timber could be marked up and cut and the joints made accordingly.

 

  A trip to Alton to do some minor maintenance work also provided an opportunity to see the posters that have been inserted by the station staff in the billboard rack on the front of the kiosk at the station. They look very bright and cheerful, and give a colourful addition to the scene there. On the day we were there we saw many visitors admiring and taking photos of the newly renovated kiosk and purchasing refreshments that were on offer.

 

The continuing spell of fine dry also gave us chance to start tackling the replacement of the felt on the roof of the downside waiting shelter at Medstead station. The long-standing roofing felt that had been on for many, many years had finally become a little permeable, so replacement was needed before winter set in. The old felt came off fairly easily and the surface cleaned off, and then a base layer of felt applied. Edging pieces were cut to size in the workshop and taken across the tracks for storage inside the shelter ready to be fitted when the main felt layer was laid. It was rather hot on the roof for the chaps, due to both the hot days on which the work was carried out and also the gas torch used to melt the bitumen on the felt itself, so much tea was drunk to keep the fluid levels up.

 

  So, progress is still being made across the infrastructure of the Railway, in line with Covid compliance conditions, in order to maintain and improve facilities for visitors.

 

  Bob Brooks

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  • Counter

  • Felt

  • Lamp - Medstead

  • Lamp

  • Medstead

  • Posters

  • Roof