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 reports on Tuesday. A dull old day, but John D, Kevin, Richard, Chris S, Ian J and Brian all made it to Medstead.

The freight train was back in Bennetts after last Saturday's photo charter, so the first task of the morning was refitting the sheets over the "A" containers. The maroon container was completed, however the white container turned out to be a bit of a nightmare due to  some very strong gusts which appeared out of nowhere, and they were really had to hang onto the sheet until the wind had died down. 

Chris and John set about undertaking the repairs to one of the veranda doors of the Queen Mary brake van which had had a problem with a sticking door, which subsequently had damaged the wood. A repair scheme of bolting the end plank together was initiated, The door frame was then eased to enable the door to be closed, and all was primed and painted.

Ian J arrived with some steel work for the BY vac piping, which he had prepared at home. In addition he had made a brilliant job of making another grab handle for the BY, which had been missing, He then drilled out the wood work and fitted the handle. The original one for the running side is in primer at the moment, and they hope to get this finished and painted in the next couple of weeks.

Chris S applied primer to the five wooded disks that hold the BY original light fittings ... that Chris the carpenter had modified at home, and John D started his PAD examination check on the axle boxes.

Chris P and Malcolm fitted one of the two fillets made last week to improve appearance and weather resistance to the BY roof felt. There are now two installed on the Country End Running Side roof, closing off the area under the edge of the felt. As the weather was cold and wet they decided to use the second one as a template and made the remaining five. These were primed ready to be installed next week.

Chris P had brought one of the roof capping sets which cover the ends of the roof. They tried it in place in one of the gaps between the rain, sleet and hail, etc. It will need some minor adjustments and they hope to fit it next week, weather permitting.

The arrival of a heavy sleet shower after lunch sent many in the direction of home!  

Well Wednesday started off rather frosty at Alton and it must have rained during the night also, as the rain had frozen on the LSWR bogie wagon S 57849! But the sun was out, and it soon warmed up a bit and defrosted and dried out the wagon. There was a lot more derusting, priming and undercoating in various locations thereon, and we can now see some light at the end of the tunnel as undercoat is gradually taking precedence over rust and primer. 

Three of the diamond bogies are now in undercoat (well the exteriors at least), and Adrian cleaned off and primed one wheel, whilst Clive cleaned off another - although it is not primed yet. The wheels are stamped "LSWR Eastleigh 1914", so they are now 105 years old.

Mick was doing more preparation work and undercoating the new handrail for the mess room steps, and John Q and Bob (after his S 57849 derusting and  priming) were putting up some new shelves inside the mess room, where I am now instructed to put my bag next week.

Saturday saw Dillon, Jim and Dave at Medstead, and started off rather grey and damp. Dillon had a measure up for some spacers for the periscope step for the BY, and Jim ran out extension leads, angle grinders, welders etc.

Dillon and Jim were busy on the gunpowder van. Last weeks cuts on the roof were remarked and straightened ... in 3 attempts! The new piece of steel was 70mm too long and had to be cut. It was also 50mm too wide and had to be cut that away to. It was a long slow process, but by the end off the day it was drilled and bolted, and virtually welded into place (rain stopped play). Next week it should be finished off, the lip formed and ends radiused and any fettling done.

Dave also did some filling and sanding on the north bodyside before giving it a coat of red oxide. They then tidied up some of the rubbish around the yard before calling it a day at 17:00.

Chris Le Corney

Photo gallery