I was met and taken round the shed and works by Bob Millard and driver Chris Smith, there's some really good stuff going on and excellent quality engineering - of which maybe more in a couple of weeks. In the end of the shed beyond the wheeldrop, the restoration of Black 5 No. 45379 is in its final stages - just look at the work on that backhead!
Chris Smith & I have known each other for years as Talyllyn footplate volunteers, and he was kind enough to arrange a footplate ride for me on his engine for the day, 9F class number 92212, here we accelerate out of Ropley past the new workshops and boiler shop heading up the hill for Medstead and Alton. I was particularly keen to do this trip as I've never managed to ride on the Mid Hants line yet, and the last time we looked in at Ropley yard was 1987!
After a quick run round at Alton, the 9F attacked the climb up towards Medstead, the gradients showing why the line's nickname is "The Alps". Here, Passed Cleaner Alex gets busy with the shovel as Chris takes the engine up the hill with great style. It was a bit warm!
After changing ends of the train again at Alresford, I left the loco at Ropley so I could head on to Basingstoke to await "Woolmer"'s arrival. On the way back to the van, I paused to get this picture of the other MHR train in service, a 108 class DMU leaving for Alresford.