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.


Brian was away this week, so a report from John D from a lovely sunny Tuesday morning at Medstead, along with Kevin,Tim, Richard, Ian J, Keith O. Chris P, and Malcolm in attendance.

Kevin introduced them to Tim his Brother in law, from Australia who came along for the day to see what they get up to, and lend a hand. This must be the furthest flung any of our volunteers has ever come! He was soon introduced to the traditional tea and biscuits! Warmly welcomed by them all, he pitched in straight away to help out.

Firstly, they moved some more timber from the Cattle Dock to store under the CCT ready to transfer to the new wood store, when completed. After this joint effort they set about various tasks.  Richard went down to the paint store to fit the signs to the new door. Kevin made a start derusting the springs on BY S 653, and later gave them a liberal coating of grease.

Tim worked on the steel framework on the south side of the BY. This was a sunny, warm place, so hopefully it felt like home in Australia! He did a splendid job sanding down some of the previously red oxided steel that had become slightly rusty and re applying red oxide where appropriate. Later, he applied undercoat to quite a lot of the  framework on the south side. 

While this was going on, Ian assisted by John D, cut and threaded the long steel vacuum pipes to go under the frame of the BY. When these were completed, Ian, John D and Kevin manhandled the heavy pipes into position under the BY. After a certain amount of pushing and shoving, John D and Kevin acting as ‘human jacks’, the pipes  were secured by Ian fitting them into the brackets, bolted to the underframe. A good job done!

Keith O and Richard were seriously into planning the new wood store and have drawn up a plan for the next stage. A good productive day all around!

Malcolm and Chris installed the last of the fillet pieces for the edge of the BY roof. They also tidied up all the remaining roof felt excess on all four corners. They next moved on to refitting the step-up in the Guard's compartment. This is very heavy and caused some problems, but it is now securely mounted.

A pleasant warm day at Alton on Wednesday. Pete and Daniel undercoated around the Alresford end bogie of S 57849, whilst John B and Clive topcoated the wheels that end, and the axles at the London end. I top coated the raves of the wagon grey and the handbrake wheels white, and also angle ground off bolts holding an "L" shaped bit of steel work at the London end, which Ian subsequently started chipping the rust off. This will need a replacement bit of timber when we refit. Pete subsequently topcoated the undersides of the raves.

Steve was measuring, angle grinding to length, and drilling the new steel channel work to support areas where the steel frame has some corrosion over the past 90 plus years.

John and Mick were working on the roof of the mess room, removing the old corrugated sheeting, and the preparation of the timbers underneath, for future torch on roofing felt. This will then remove the need for any tarpaulins over the roof (which we currently have) to keep the rain out. 

Saturday was a good productive day for Dillon, Jim, Jamie and Dave at Medstead.

The first order of the day was to completely uncover the "gunpowder" wagon and remove both the south side doors. The top and bottom hinge pins on both doors came out easily as they have been removed before, but the two middle pins were seized. They eventually gave in with a little heat though. The doors have been placed in the CCT as a pattern for the carpenters.

The "Colliery Supply" coal wagon had to be moved up so they could move the gunpowder van up, to enable to work from the scaffolding on level ground. Jim then carried on grinding back the last weld  seam and fillered any lumps and bumps to give a neater appearance. Various areas were spot red oxided. Jamie then tackled the two roof panels on the north side country end with a sander, then gave them a coat of red oxide. Dave gave both ends and the south side a second coat of grey primer.

Dillon spent the afternoon chipping, de-rusting and sanding the north side sole bar, with Jim following on behind with the red oxide. 

They decided to check the axle boxes on the SW tar wagon as the freight is out in a photo charter shortly, and its known to suffer from water ingress. This proved to be a good move, as all four boxes were full of water. As they got back to the main yard the last down train pulled out. 

Chris Le Corney

Photo gallery