Watercress Line

Coronavirus / Covid-19 Update

Our priority during the Coronavirus / Covid-19 outbreak, and the railway's closure, is on meeting our running costs. We need around £75,000 per month. Without this income, within a relatively short period we will exhaust our reserves which are so important us for our long term plans.

Although these are difficult times for all of us, we are asking you to consider providing financial support to the railway. With your support, ideally through a monthly standing order, the railway can be in a safe and good position to move forward rapidly when circumstances allow.

The amount is up to you as everyone’s circumstances are different, but please give as generously as you can. One-off donations would also be welcomed.

Thank you.

Visit our donation page to make a monthly gift or donate a single amount.

You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message.

Urie Blog 20 October

A quick pre-gala update on what’s been going on in the ULS since my last general post back in April.

Work on 499 has primarily been focused toward the rear of the loco. The cab itself has now been painted in dark green, similar to the holly green she will carry when eventually returned to steam. The roof has received a coat of gloss back so around the cab at least, we are beginning to see the loco taking shape. We’re based directly under the ‘Harry Potter Bridge’ so if you visit the railway why not take a wander up to the bridge and have a look at our progress? About 12’ of running plate has been replaced on both sides and new splashers made up which are now temporarily bolted in place. Work has begun on the cab floor superstructure and a start made on both the steam heat and vacuum brake pipework. Various salvageable components removed from the loco have been cleaned, primed with a coat of red oxide and placed into dry storage. Fairly soon our attention will turn to the mammoth task of completely stripping the front end so we can replace part of the frames, but before we can do this our lifting gantry will have to be put in place.

Following on from ‘The Front Fell Off!’, all the cylinder bolt, stretcher rivet and running plate angle bolt holes have been drilled in the new R/H frame section – slightly undersize, to be reamed as necessary. Our ‘grand plan’ to use the old frame section as a drilling guide worked of sorts, but not without a great deal of head-scratching. Obstacles thrown up by the ‘old girl’ included identification that the original frames were not drilled to plan and the cylinder block lies approx. 1/16th low. The original scribe markings for the piston centres are now visible – and the blocks don’t line up with them! The problem of transferring the data to the new section was further compounded by the original plate being bent in more than 1 direction, making transfer of the hole centres difficult. In the end it was a case of take a deep breath and go for it! The existing frame has been weld-prep’d and some holes have been countersunk (the rivets which sit beneath the blocks are finished as countersunk with others being raised c/s). Prior to work starting on the frames, the cab floor superstructure was fabricated including hinges for the fall-plate which sits between loco and tender. Most recently, brackets for the water pipes have been fabricated.

Most of you will be aware the Society owns 3 boilers, 2 of which - no’s 451 & 799 - are resident in the yard. During the summer months the opportunity was taken to clean the worst of the rust off and give each a coat of red oxide primer and a protective undercoat/gloss. They now look much more respectable and are not so much of an eyesore to residents overlooking the yard.

More information about the Society, its loco’s and other rolling stock can be found on our website. There is also information about our Appeal to raise vital funds to return 499 to traffic. Our sales stand will be based in the main shed viewing gallery at Ropley for all 3 days of the MHR Autumn Gala. If you do visit the gala, please come along and say hello to Ian and his team who will be delighted to answer any questions you may have.

Mark Pedley

Photo gallery