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Winter Weather Hits



Well the seasonal weather is affecting the work schedule of the Building Department a little more now, restricting progress on some of the outside jobs due to wind and rain but in between the worst we have managed to continue, although more slowly. One of these jobs is the improvement to the appearance of the entrance area to the public car park at Ropley station from Bighton Hill. We have started work on this, somewhat late in the year, but which is to be continued into next year after the winter season. Since this car park was created some years ago, in conjunction with the Watercress Lodges development, it has not received much attention and had started to look unattractive to visitors. As the Railway is now a significant visitor attraction a more professional scene was thought to be required to welcome visitors as they arrive at the major interpretive site of the Railway, so we have set to -with some assistance from the Ropley Service Crew- to make the entrance more part of the Ropley station scene. A few before and after photos illustrate the point of the exercise.


The fence panels and gates have been repaired and painted with a black coating on the outer face (the inner faces will be tackled next year) and the fence posts strengthened with concrete supports, adding to site security as well as appearance. The metal gate posts are being painted in the old gold Southern Railway colour to add the railway paint scheme into this part of the station. The surface of the area outside of the gates has been cleared of weeds and layer of wood chippings spread over a muddy part to give a better surface for coach visit parking and visitors. The area behind the rail barrier fence is being retained with natural vegetation but some tidying of the more unsightly aspects is being carried out to improve the appearance. Cut logs have been used to give greater definition to some parts that are used as working areas by the maintenance teams. New signage will be added shortly to further enhance the entrance. It’s good to say that almost all of this to date has been carried out using materials already held in stock.


On a wet Sunday we turned to an inside job and installed an illuminated Southern Electric sign in the shop at Alton. The original glass sign was of the type produced when the Southern Railway introduced third rail electric trains around the region. The glass panel was inserted into a purpose made cabinet, with a back light to display the sign in a way it would have been back in the 1930’s. Third rail electric trains ran into Alton station (and still do of course) with steam and diesel running on from there to Winchester and beyond, so it is fitting to have the sign at this station -which also complements a larger board type sign on the platform. Some electrical cabling work is to be carried out in the shop for when re-opening eventually takes place.


At Alresford an area of ground has been cleared and pipework and drains have been dug in to provide the necessary infrastructure to install a prefabricated toilet unit behind the West Country Buffet. This will be used by station staff to create separate facilities from the public lavatories and give additional flexibility to facilities during busy events. A concrete slab will be formed to provide a base for the structure and the rest of the area will likewise be concreted in due course-when the weather eases up- to give a clean, level surface and with some additional lighting provided for dark periods of railway operation.


Bob Brooks

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