Friday, 27 December 2013

Visit to Mid Hants Railway

Hello, I've had a fandabidozi day riding up and down on the chuff chuffs. I love playing around on steam trains. The Mid Hants Railway is also known as the Watercress Line, it runs from Alton to Alresford, passing through Medstead and Ropley. You buy a day ticket and can ride up and down all day, getting on and off at whichever stations take your fancy. We spent time at all four of them, exploring, and chatting to people. Everyone was in a happy mood, all enjoying their day out.
For two days the theme has been a WWII Christmas, with civilian and military re-enactors returning home from the war. There was song and dance and Christmas merriment.
This is our train now waiting to depart from Alton Station.    
Love the sound of the rush of steam.

There's a good fire going in the cab, and the crew were just tucking into their fried breakfast before they moved off.

Tickets please. The inspector doing his rounds.

A picture from the train window as we were stopped at Ropley. We went all the way to Alresford first, then stopped at the other stations on the way back.
This was our loco which has been detached from the carriages, run a short distance up the line, changed track, and is now coming back to be reattached to the other end, for the return journey.

There was a lot going on at Alresford Station. Lots of enthusiasts were dressed in period costume, and these were really getting into the spirit of the occasion by dancing along to the big band music which was playing..

Some had come in their military vehicles.
 A group of soldiers were gathered on the platform.

And burst into a rendition of war time songs. Even Sir Winston Churchill joined in.

 'Ello 'ello, what's all this 'ear then. An English bobby on the beat.

More re-enacters in forties costumes.
The railway is mostly run by volunteers, and everyone we spoke to was happy to answer our questions. The signalman invited us into his box and explained how everything worked. His enthusiasm for his work was evident, he told us he had worked for forty years as an engineer on the railways, so knew all about the mechanics of it. He could fix things if it went wrong.  
His signal box was immaculately kept, freshly painted and clean. Everything that happens is recorded in the log book on the desk.

 There are two machines with keys in them. In one machine they have a red circle on the end.....

and in the other they have a green triangle. These keys are passed to the train drivers as they pass through the station. It's a system which ensures the safety of the trains. It sounded quite a complicated system to learn.
These are for changing the points and signals.
Here is the signal man getting ready to exchange the keys with the train driver. They are in a sort of leather handbag thing with a steel handle, which can easily looped over the arm or grabbed while the train is moving. 
At Ropley we had time for a look around the back of the station to see the stock in the yard.

We hopped off at Medstead for an hour to look round.

There is Carol looking for the train.
We had time to get a hot drink in the buffet while we waited for the train. There are old style posters everywhere taking us back in time.

It was a fabulous day out, I'm glad that Carol organised this for us. The railway has a web site, if you want to know more you can read about it here. They have lots of exciting events throughout the year, some of them are very popular and have to be booked well in advance. It is a charity and all the money goes into the preservation of the trains and stations. It's a great day out.

Tomorrow is a trip to see John from Don't unplug your hub. He has a new dog you know, a German Shepherd called Mia. I'm looking forward to seeing them both. Toodle pip.


  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun!
    Best wishes,
    Angela (Devon)

  2. Oh, love steam trains myself. Love the photos of the re-enactment. What a nice visit.

  3. Watercress Line is smashing isn't it- one of my closest friends lives in Alton and we often see the train going through when we visit her.

  4. Looks like you had a fun-filled day. I love trains and would have enjoyed this excursion immensely.
    Thanks for taking us along with you

  5. What a lovely time and I love all the pictures of the people reenacting the times!

  6. looks like so much fun, loved all the photos, good for you both!

  7. Wow! That looks like brilliant fun. Love old trains and re-enactments. What a ball you obviously had!

    Did you join in with any singing or dancing?

    1. Hi, we did join in with the singalong, it was great fun, but not the dancing.

  8. Love the idea of "conducted rambles" - sounds much more fun than "guided tours"!

  9. Now thats my idea of a fun day out, i love all things mechanical.
    It looks like a really nice line that goes through some nice countryside.
    We've got a steam railway about 5miles away but i never get round to going. They do similar events to mid Hants, 40's weekends, Thomas tank engine and Santa specials etc.
    Glad to see you're having a good time and i hope the wind wasn't too bad.

  10. What a great day out. My son ( now nearly 30) had his first ever train ride on the Watercress Line when he was one!
    I haven`t been there for years but it`s good to see how much love and enthusiasm are put into keeping the line going.
    Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

  11. Looks like a good day was had by all.

    If ever your rambles take you up Cumbria, have a look at the La'al Ratty (google it) to see a miniature restored working railway, not as long, only about 7 miles, but an interesting one and very scenic.

  12. Oh god, that took me back a bit. I remember the signal boxes placed strategically along the line with the man up top. And I can just remember the smell in our local station of the steam trains. Did you dress up for the occasion?

    1. Hi Briony. No we didn't dress up. Neither of us has any suitable clothes for the occasion.

  13. What a fab day out, looks like you had a great time. Had to laugh at your intro ('chuff' has a rather unsavory meaning here in Yorkshire!). Will certainly have to check out their website with a view to a day out. Thanks for sharing :o)

  14. Wow that looks amazing. I LOVE the picture of the engine with the stream coming out.

  15. What a treat! I would love to do this next time I am in the UK. Thank you for the great photos.

  16. Fantastic fun, looks like you had a great time! Cathy M.

  17. Oh what lovely photos! I love trains! That would have been a great day! Thank you for sharing!

  18. Hi! I am new to your blog and like it very much. I have also recommended it to a good friend. Your thrifty ways remind me so much of her! Perhaps one day I will tell you the story of what happened when she found two Chinese food take out containers
    sitting by the roadside. I noticed that you did not have any such curiosity listed in your "bargains." (:
    This last post was very interesting to me. I love anything to do with WWll and the postwar years, too.
    Thanks for telling us about the railway! Maybe some day I will get to travel to Britain and will certainly take the journey you described.

    1. Hi Caterina, thank you for visiting my blog. You are very welcome.

  19. What a great place to visit, it sounds like a very interesting day out.

  20. I wish I could of been on this train with the WWII theme! Thanks for posting this, Ilona.
    Nancy from Northern California

  21. I wasn't really following you - honest!

    1. Wow, Darren, you have found me. I am grinning from ear to ear. How amazing. I bet your photo's are a lot better than mine :o))