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 glorious Tuesday morning greeted Brian and John D at Medstead, despite a frost which did not take very long to disappear. 

They decided it would be better to remove all of the sheets over wagons in Bennetts that morning, rather than leave it until next week when they could find that there was no freight train left in Bennetts, and they could end up have to do this job at Alresford. About half way with  this job Chris S arrived when all the covers were folded up and stored in the 
appropriate container. They were just about ready to walk back from Bennetts when Richard arrived to offer his good mornings!

Chris and John made a start on refitting the first of the roof vents on BY S 653 as they were now in possession of the special mastic which Brian had collected from Ropley the day before. 

It became a bit congested with Chris and John wanting move the scaffolding further along the BY for the next roof vent installation, plus Chris and Malcolm walking around with their large pieces of timber matching up the new step boards which they were making. In addition Brian and Richard were wanting to get in and out of the BY trying to get the electrics finished. Ian was also trying to work on the inside and the out side installing the door furniture plus a selection of other metal work fittings.
The new door steps were finished on the running side and apart from Ian who kindly opened up the fixing holes slightly to match the steel work were ready for painting with Creocote. Brian undertook this and 
completed three which were left to dry for another day.

By about 3pm they were pretty knackered with an excellent days work...
Wednesday was a pleasant day at Alton, after a chilly start. Most efforts from the gang were with more derusting and priming on the framework of LSWR bogie S 57849, and also removing the remains of rusty thin steel work on top of the frames.
Steve assisted by Ian cut and fitted a triangular piece of ply to the top of the first timber store, so this is now watertight there.

Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag for Dillon, Jamie and Dave R. The first job was to refit the vacuum release valve removed last week from the Tube wagon B 730821. It had seized up, so Dillon took it home and overhauled it. A new pull cord was fitted at the same time as the previous one was life expired.

Dillon then did a vacuum hose inspection. Only one is in need of replacement, but is deemed fit enough for the gala next weekend.

Jamie and Dave spent the rest of the day oiling the brake rigging including the tops of the brake hangers, this is an area that usually gets missed. This also entailed a trip to Ropley for a little more oil.

By now Ian Johnson had turned up and was busy doing some work on BY S 653.

Dillon managed to pull the roof of the Gunpowder wagon down, where it had lifted during welding last week. Then in getting ready to attack the next section of the roof something didn’t look quite right. Despite measuring and double measuring and getting a second opinion, the measurements were out by 75mm (3” in old money), luckily in their favour! By now the wind had got up putting paid to working on the roof with flapping tarpaulins, so it was tied down and a couple of ratchet straps added for good measure.

With the siding shunt for the Gala preparations to move the BY up to the dock, taking place this coming week, the blue scaffold tower was taken down and stowed away, and the not to be moved board removed.

Then it was pack away, lock up, mug of tea, then off site by 17:00.

Yes it's the Spring Gala 8th-10th March, next weekend. Aside from brake van rides on the Queen Mary brake on the freight train, we will have our Wagon Group sales stand inside BY S 653 in the dock siding (adjacent to the footbrige) at Medstead...... so we look forward to seeing there.

Chris Le Corney  

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