Watercress Line

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the Watercress Line Mid Hants Railway is temporarily closed to the public. The safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors is our most important consideration. You will know that the Watercress Line relies on ticket revenue to cover its operational costs, which currently work out more than £75,000 a month. Without money coming in from running services, the railway is eating into its financial reserves to survive. If you can help, please click on the Virgin Money Giving link below which allows you to donate a single amount or pay monthly if you're able to. You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10, texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message. Thank you for continuing to support us during this unprecedented situation. We hope to be able to welcome you back to the Watercress Line soon.


Well the past few weeks seem to have seen the extremes of the weather with the heat and torrential downpours, but despite a few days missed for this, we have progressed on a number of projects...

At Medstead the internal and external painting of BY S 653 continues, and bits and pieces are being dug out of storage, such as the window meshes for cleaning and repainting. The Bluebell Railway have kindly given us some light fittings we were missing and these are painted up. The roof rain strips have been made, painted, and ready to be attached.

The level foundations for the wood store have been made and this construction is starting to rise up above ground level.

SR brake van S 56506 has had some internal delapidation of ply sheeting, as it got damp. The damaged sheeting has been removed, pending replacement, and some symetrical holes above each door have been drilled, to give a bit of a through draught, and hopefully eliminate any future dampness.
Internal and external painting progresses on "Gunpowder" van W 105761, and new steel work has been obtained for the doors.

Down at Alton the two Palvans B 776446 and B 782114 are nearing completion, with the bulk of the lettering and numbering completed, and just needing touching up. B 782114 is in pristine early BR bauxite, and B 776446 is in a darker bauxite to represent a covering of general circa 1960 grime and dirt, although this could be confused with a post 1964 darker BR bauxite, plus grime and dirt! This "original" 1960 livery is "delicately" created by pouring black topcoat into the bauxite...

The variations in the colour of the wagons does make them look more authentic, than just painting everything in pristine bauxite. 

Out of interest B 776446 arrived on the Mid-Hants in 1976 I recollect, purchased from storage at the NCL (National Carriers Ltd) depot at Aldershot. So it only had some 15 years in BR ownership and has now accumulating 43 years on the Mid-Hants! The Palvans were designed with large offset doors each side for ease of loading pallets with fork lift trucks. Unfortunately some customers only loaded one end of the wagons, and accordingly with an uneven weight distribution they were prone to derailments ... and after a pretty short working life the Palvans were withdrawn from regular traffic and used for storage such as at Aldershot NCL, or scrapped. 

LSWR bogie S 57849 is having some more strengthening bits of steel work added, and Steve is battling with the strength of nearly 100 year old steel work versus 21st century drill bits. The attrition rate of the drill bits is quite high, but we are getting there!

Finally more timber repairs to the mess room roof are being carried out, but we are getting close now to applying the torch on roofing felt............which will eliminate the not over attractive sheeting which has been on the roof for years.

Chris Le Corney 

Photo gallery