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 pretty challenging, cold and snowy week in Hampshire and this somewhat restricted outside activities.

Brian on Tuesday advised that the day started cold but dry at Medstead, with Richard, Keith, Chris S and himself braving the elements.

Richard carried out the annual ladder inspections, attaching the inspection labels and completing the paper work. Keith spent the entire day working on sorting out many thousands of wood screws into new boxes all of which are being identified and added to the new shelving which he has installed, a way yet to get this little job finished.

Brian and Chris decided that they would investigate the fitting of one of the BY torpedo roof vents that had been previously renovated. Certainly the most time consuming part of this job was relocating and securing the smaller scaffolding tower to a position opposite the Country side and then securing a pair of steps on the platform floor, They then had to remove the covers and expose the roof so they had access to the roof itself. This done they had to drill some marker holes then cut out the area for the roof vent. A seal of mastic was applied and the vent bolted down, pending the manufacture of some internal circular pads which are fitted on the ceiling. These are being manufacture by carpenter Chris at home at the moment.

After some refreshment Brian and Chris decided that there was time to undertake the fitting of the next roof vent on the same side but nearer to the County end of the vehicle, so they dismantled all of the scaffolding arrangement and moved the tower further along the the side. In a lot quicker time they got the second vent installed. 

After lunch Brian and Richard reviewed the work required to install some temporary lighting in the BY for next month's Spring Gala event, with the BY planned to be shunted into the dock siding at Medstead. A list of materials was put together which they plan to have to hand for next week...weather permitting.

Steve reports from Alton on Wednesday. Bob was first to arrive and had to unfreeze the lock on the mess hut with WD40 as the temperature was below zero. They decided to set about chipping and cleaning off the rust on the LSWR bogie wagon until Mick arrived to confirm the plan for the timber rack behind Mess Hut.  It was decided that the rack needed to be finished in order to get the long timbers off the ground where they were getting wet.  

So Mick and Bob continued their work on that while Steve carried on with the bogie wagon, scraping and rotary wire brushing the I-beams on the northern half of the wagon.  By the end of the day, three compartments in the north side of the central section had been de-rusted and brushed off ready for painting with primer when the weather improves.  However, by then they will need light wire brushing and wiping down to remove the thin layer of rust that will have accumulated in the interim.

Elsewhere, on the sunny side of the mess hut, Bob and Mick replaced bolts in the uprights with those of a better size and then made up and fitted upper brackets to increase the capacity of the rack.  These were shorter compared to the lower ones to reduce the top heavy weight when loaded with timber.  Whilst the uprights are firmly supported on the ground it is not desired to lose the grounded van body down the slope.

Not a lot to report for Saturday at Medstead, due to the snowy weather. Dillon, John D, Darren, John Q and Clive however all took their PTS course down at Ropley with Derek Simmonds. All successfully passed.

Jamie unfortunately came off his motor bike on the way to the railway and broke the clutch lever off. While the others were doing the PTS, Jose, Jamie and Hamish went to wheel the bike back to the yard, and after the PTS course, Dillon spent the afternoon in the workshop PMV fashioning a temporary lever to get him home. 

As it was too cold to sensibly do any work, aside from Dillon in the workshop PMV, the lads just enjoyed the snow... Back to work next week lads!!!

Saturday and Sunday was the Alton model railway show, which with the snow conditions was far from ideal for the model railway club. But the show went on, as did our intrepid sales team on our Wagon Group sales stand and did a remarkably good trade over the 2 days. 

We have just taken delivery of our new 2019 4mm model vans “The Alresford Brewery Hunt & Co”. There are two running numbers, either No 3 or 6. The wagons are £13 each, or 2 for £25. They can be obtained from the Alresford Information Office (not at this moment in time, but soon); the Wagon Group sales stand at Medstead (Gala days); or by post via Keith Ottley, The Vines, Basingstoke Road, Riseley, BERKS RG7 1QD. Email james.ottley@yahoo.co.uk . Tel 01189 887624.

We do still have a few of the 2018 Crowleys Brewery wagons left, numbers 21 or 23. Prices same as the above. Postage and Packing is £4.00 (second class) for up to 2 wagons, and cheques should be made payable to the Mid-Hants Wagon Group.

Chris Le Corney

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