Saturday, 20 February 2010

Bright future at the Mid Hants

Having looked at Woolmer at Milestones, where it looks very much at home, Wednesday morning saw me land at Alresford station on the Mid Hants Railway, where a vintage bus service had been laid on to fetch us from a local school where we had parked. Seeing a plume of steam from the bus, we had to investigate before signing in to the reception. There was Peckett 1555 in the guise of "Ivor the Engine" giving brake van rides to all and sundry in station limits between service trains.
Eventually after much chat and a cuppa, we boarded the MHR's "Watercress Belle" dining train set, headed by "Lord Nelson" and driven by my friend Chris Smith, we arrived at the very temporary platform outside Ropley works and went inside. Speeches were made by MHR directors, the HLF officer and finally, Pete Waterman, who unveiled the plate to open the workshop, now known as "The David Snow Building" - David Snow being the driving force behind the project. Here, Pete has just performed the ceremony.In this picture taken from one end of the carriage and wagon shop, you can see that the roller shutter doors into the boiler shop have been opened and the boilers of 31806 and 30506 are visible beyond. A smashing facility and the railway has taken on two apprentices as well, one to work on boilers and the other to learn Carriage & Wagon work. The boilersmith is another friend, fellow Talyllyn volunteer Sam Rowbotham, so it was good to catch up with him too during the day.
The Mid Hants Railway has a growing fleet of restored goods wagons, and here is the latest to be outshopped, an 8 plank open in the livery of a local coal merchant from Winchester. Hopefully the new facility will see more restorations such as this in the years to come.
Guests were then treated to a superb 3 course meal on the train, the best I have ever had, compliments to the MHR team of volunteers who run the Watercress Belle. On return to Alresford, I took this picture from the footbridge of our engine "Lord Nelson", running round the set of coaches prior to shunting the stock away for the day.

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