Watercress Line

Winter works progress

8 Feb

The Christmas and early New Year period saw a few of us assisting the S&T Department with the installation of signalling equipment at Medstead, ready for the temporary alterations to train movements occasioned by the truncating of services to Alton by the bridge replacement works at The Butts. Working under the direction of S&T volunteers, who know what they are doing, new stop and shunt signals were put in place to allow run round operations to continue at Medstead, with the line closed just before Boyneswood Bridge- no photos unfortunately as I was changing mobile phones at the time.

A winter job started in the workshop and carried out over the past few weeks was the renovation of another original enamel advertising sign. This is quite a large version and did require quite a bit of repair and touch-up repainting. However, it is quite unique and of local provenance and has now been erected at Ropley station alongside other signs that give a quite impressive and colourful display. A woodwork job recently completed for Ropley was the repair and repaint of a finger board box for the station. These boxes are used to hold the fingerboards that are displayed on brackets fixed to station buildings along the line to inform visitors about the next train to arrive at a particular platform. As the boards are frequently taken in and out of the boxes during running days, and they are generally exposed to the elements, the boxes do get some wear and tear and need a bit of TLC every now and again.

Again at Ropley, the T Junction cabin has received some attention from the Building Department. In order to divert rain water from the roof and canopy of the Tea Junction refreshment kiosk at Ropley station picnic area, we have fitted guttering and a downpipe to a soakaway. This is for the benefit of customers who should have less water to dodge when purchasing their food and drinks on the odd day when inclement weather might just be occurring.  

The new notice board for the Old Goods Shed at Alresford has progressed nicely in the warmth of the workshop- that’s when the stove has got going that is. After construction and painting this was erected inside the lobby outside the shop entrance in place of the redundant version. It certainly looks more in-keeping with other such information boards around the railway.

The hose reel cabinet for the train watering hose pipe at the country end of the station at Alresford was completed in the workshop and taken to site and fixed to the station wall. This looks a looks a lot smarter than the previous one that had run its time in all weathers.  An enamel sign that was fixed on the wall at that location had to be removed as the new cabinet would have covered half of it. This will be renovated in the workshop and will be fixed in a new location on the station building.      

Station staff at Alton requested that a Way Out sign be put up now that visitors have to use the new footbridge at the station which is some way from the gate to the Mid Hants Railway on platform 3. This is to help give some direction for when they wish to leave the station; they are alright getting to platform 3 but often require a little more information to leave at the end of their visit. Fortunately, we had an original British Railways Southern Region double sided enamel Way Out sign in store which would fit the bill. This needed some renovation to rusted areas and also the construction of a hard wood frame to join the two sides together. We also had an original steel bracket in store from which to suspend the sign but due to limited height on the toilet block at Alton this could not be used to provide sufficient head clearance. A new bracket was fabricated in the workshop to a design that gave the required headroom. The sign was taken and put in place at Alton before the trains stopped running through in order to clear space in the workshop, and to be ready for when the station re-opens later in the year. The first picture is a bit fuzzy- it was cold and also we were rushing to get a train back to base.

Another nice warm job was the fixing of an original running-in board to the wall in the Education Room at Ropley. The board came from Farringdon Halt, an intermediate station on the Meon Valley Line which opened in 1931. Passenger services ran until 1955 and then the line was used for freight only until 1968 after which the track was lifted. Further information/interpretation notices will be erect in this area to explain about this and some of the other artefacts on display and their history.

Bob Brooks

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