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 it's been a bit windy out there the last week, as you may have noticed...

Brian and gang on Tuesday decided to give Medstead a miss, not wanting to contend with the rain as well. Chris, Malcolm, and Ian Johnson however arrived in wind, rain and cold to a Mary Celeste experience – not another soul in sight!

First job was to fight the wind to get the wood working CCT’s tarpaulin back in place, which took some time. It looked as if a few eyelets had been ripped out by the wind. They secured it again, adding a couple of ropes passed over the roof and not depending on eyelets. (The coal wagon had also lost its tarpaulin but they couldn't face another battle with the wind!)

As it was so unpleasant outside, they decided to trial-fit the BY's Guard‘s compartment folding step. This was fairly successful but will need the remaining securing screws to be fitted. They then plugged the timber on the Running Side Country End luggage doors where the top bolt guides are secured. This was done, the screws tightened... and they then left at lunchtime, as the weather was still bad.

The weather at Alton on Wednesday was very windy, but at least dry. Since the caption on the first picture never appears, it's the currently train less tracks at Alton... pending completion of the Butts bridge works. 

Many years ago we were donated a large supply of 5L cans of undercoat from I think the MOD at Longmoor... probably at least a 100 cans, and on Wednesday they managed to get to the bottom of the very last can. There have been a few disasters over the years, with the bottom falling out of rusty cans over someone's boots, but generally after removing the crust on top and a good stir the paint has gone on nicely. So now we have to buy the undercoat...

They spent the day buffeted by the strong north-westerlies that had pulled back the tarpaulin over the Mess hut and torn the sheet at London end of the Dance Hall brake van. 

From early on, Roger was prepping the London end of the LSWR bogie S 57849, and assisted by Steve and Pete started painting the frame in undercoat.  Clive joined them and painted all along the outside of the frame on the south side.  Adrian volunteered to attack more of the rusty sheeting on the Alresford  end, beating it up with hammer and chisel and levering it off with the crowbar. Daniel set about attacking the sheeting at the other end of the wagon.

Meanwhile, John Q and Bob, joined by Mick, wrestled the tarpaulin back over the Mess Hut roof and the wood rack behind. Their attention then turned to protecting the outside work table between the work shop and the mess, cutting to size and gluing together two sheets of plywood and fixing them to the top thus preventing any further deterioration,  They then set about working out how best to fix a large vice kindly donated.  Bob's idea was to use the vice outside to hold jobs needing angle grinding etc to save sparks and detritus getting into the workshop.

Mick was asked by John Q to fit a hand rail and fence stake he provided to the steps into the Mess room, which Mick did with his usual aplomb. He hammered the fence stake into the ground, shaped and fitted an upright post into it and then cut the top of the post and rail to slope up to the Mess wall.  It just needs  wood preservative, final assembly then we will all be able to enter and exit said mess room safely.

With the undercoat running out, attention was turned to the floor of the Dance Hall brake van S 55506.  Roger together with Clive, did some more de-rusting of the floor and sweeping out in preparation for painting. So the main internal area is now ready to be painted.  More work needs to be done on the country end. Meanwhile, Steve went round the covered wagons and tied down any loose ropes, then joined by Adrian and Clive, covered the London  end of the Dance Hall brake with an additional tarpaulin.  Such was their enthusiasm in securing said sheet, that Clive and Roger had to be released from their incarceration at going home time!

With a later start than normal, an inclement Saturday greeted Dave R, Jose & Jamie at Medstead - it was blowing a gale with fine penetrating rain!

The original plan of attack, had included external jobs on the Gunpowder van, but the weather put paid to that! So plan B was followed through - tackling in the country end panels internally, including both north & south sides, so site lights were set up in the hope that the heat from them would warm up the work area (the wind whistling through mainly put paid to that!) - this included Jose & Jamie de-rusting previously cleaned, but exposed metal work,which had started to rust over again, before applying a coat of red oxide.

After watching L92 arrive with the 14:00 from Alresford, it was decided to call it a day, as there was no point in watching paint dry & the wind was making things in the yard a tad unbearable!

Chris Le Corney

Photo gallery