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.


A brilliant sunny start to Tuesday, but there was a sharp frost on the sleepers in Medstead yard. John D, Richard, Chris S, Keith, Ian J and Brian were in fine fettle. 

John started the day by painting the very finely made pads for the inside of BY S 653 roof vents, and left these by the electric fire .............. which had decided that it was to cold to work. Brian spoke to it kindly and replaced the fuse, and it still refused to work. He then found the reset button on the back and it burst into life.

Chris and John helped removing the very heavy door to the paint store, which needed replacing they assisted Keith with work on its replacement. Keith fitted the replacement rotten sections of the door frames, and completion will be in a couple of weeks time, on Keith's next visit.

Meantime work continues with the wiring of the BY ceiling lights, and Chris made another wooden adapter block for fitting in the Guards Area and also assisted in fitting the Junction box, with Brian not far behind with the wiring.

Ian continued with his fine work on the installation of the BY's door mechanisms helped by Chris and Malcolm. There was a lot of progress here.

John and Richard went to Ropley to collect a new oil supply for the re oiling of the wagon fleet in preparation for the up coming Spring Gala, March 8th-10th. 

The weather at Alton on Wednesday was relatively mild once the sun got up, and there was a lot more derusting and priming on LSWR bogie S 57849 at Alton. A total of 10 there hammered away...... There are only pretty well the 4 extreme corners of the upper frame work to complete derusting... although of course there are the bogies and the lower bits of the underframe to do... I think the novelty of derusting this long wagon is wearing off now!

Bob and John Q had a change from hammering away at rust after a bit, and tidied up around the grounded van body and used some large plastic tubes as another timber store, which John describes as a "small X section timber storage facility". No idea what this means, but I can see you can put timbers inside the tubes.

Saturday at Medstead was a good productive day with 7 in attendance, including with Dillon, Jose, Jamie, John D and Hamish, and the welcome return of Mark and Alex.

John and Hamish took Mark and Alex off to the down siding armed with barrels of oil and cans, and spent the morning oiling the wagon rake, with the Tuesday oil supply from Ropley.

Jose and Jamie removed the broken brake shoe from the two plank B 726064, and swapped it with one from Lowfit B 453433, which is currently out of service.

The first piece of the Gunpowder van roof was marked out and cut away, and new welded in. It looks a bit like too much heat was applied as it has lifted at one end, but should pull down when bolted to the beam.

After lunch John  carried on oiling the last few wagons, while Mark and Alex started scraping and chipping rust and grime from the "W" irons on the GP van. By now Jamie and Hamish were busy sanding the two panels on the running side Alresford end, and getting it up to red oxide. Jose managed to get the broken door hinge pin out by drilling it to remove the weight, use of some heat and gentle persuasion. The hinge was also straightened out and a new pin fitted. Jose also removed the faulty vac release valve from the Tube wagon in Bennetts, and Dillon has taken it home for overhaul. 

With John and Hamish going about 15:30, shortly followed by Mark and Alex, the three finished off then had a wander down to Lymington Bottom to see the last train of the day. Then it was time to put the sheet back over the GP van. A mug of tea and it was dark again!

...and that's another week of action gone by!

Chris Le Corney

Photo gallery