During our 2014 UK holiday we paid a visit to the Mid-Hants railways that operates part of the former Watercressline from Winchester - Alton - London
1 Our day at the Watercressline started in the old station of Alresford
2 Note: where my camera's GPS could get a fix on satelites the coordinates can be found below this caption. Click on "See map" to see the corresponding, errrm, well, um, map! It will open in a separate window.
3 Awaiting the incoming train
4 Much to my delight the train was operated by a West Country light pacific.
7 This shot clearly shows the remarkable design of the West Country class in its un-rebuilt form. The class has three distinct features: - the casing of the boiler, probably intended to ease cleaning and improve the lift of the smoke, - chain driven valve gear - the Bulleid Firth Brown wheels
8 110 of the class were built from 1945 to 1951. A major rebuild was undertaken on 60 members of the class from 1955 until 1961. Withdrawal started in 1963 mainly with un-rebuilt examples some of which had accumulated only 600,000 miles (960,00 km). Withdrawal of rebuilt examples soon started thereafter many of them only a few years after rebuilding.
9 A view on the typical roof of the locomotive. The casing proved troublesome. It easily accumulated oil and grease spots which crusted and attracted dust and dirt. That on its turn was easily ignited by sparks from heavy braking causing fire within the cladding. The casing was removed during rebuilding.
12 The crew demonstrating the visibilty problems with this class
15 The landmark Bulleid Firth Brown wheels. Intended purposes of the construction over traditional spoked wheels: better rigidity, better stress distribution, lighter construction. They were different from the more known Boxpok wheels and that they were cast instead of welded from sheet metal.
22 The characteristic front
23 Well it's time to prepare for departure
30 Through the glorious English countryside. The Watercressline has some notable inclines and that makes the threecylinder Pacific work hard. The audible six beat was a joy to hear.
31 Approaching Ropley
33 Ropley is the place to be if you want to see the depot.
34 I first saw this West Country off.
36 School class in pristine condition
37 I usually dislike the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement as I find them out of balance. The School is however a notable exception. Strong, powerful lines. And also powerful in tractive effort, reputedly the most powerful 4-4-0 class in Europe. The loco's were designed to serve lines that needed muscle but did not have large enough turntables to accomodate 2-6-0 designs. The 40 members of the class were built between 1930 and 1935 and withdrawn in 1961 and 1962. Three locomotives have been preserved
43 The Lord Nelson class is the bigger version of the Schools class
44 And that is why the two fronts are almost identical
49 The BR Standard Class 7, also known as the Britannia Class, is a 4-6-2 Pacific designed by Robert Riddles for mixed traffic duties. 55 were constructed between 1951 and 1954. 70000 was returned to the main line in 2011. But today was not my lucky day, so it seems.
50 Well supported to take the stress off the frame
51 This 9F was on of the last steam locomotives to be produced for the Britisch Railways in 1959. When it was sold for scrap it was only seven yeards old!
52 Note the flangeless driver wheel
56 A museum railway is more than a few nutties driving up and down. It is all about skill, professionalism and maintaing the highest standards for maintenance and overhaul.
58 Tender frame upside down.
59 Chimney rim.
60 The locomotive in the front is a rebuilt West Country, so one without the characteristic casing.
61 Two 4-6-0 in various stages of restoration. The front one is Southern Railway S15 class number 828
63 We boarded again to continue our journey to Alton
64 Outside Ropley's station there was half a fleet awaiting restoration. On this railway alone I counted more mainline steam locomotives than are left over in the entire Netherlands (from Dutch origin that is). And in the Netherlands there is not a single original Dutch steam locomotive operational.
65 Train crossing at Medstead
66 Say "Hi"
68 The U runnin' round in Alston
71 Watching the man on board is a delight in itself. The non-verbal radiation from it alone!
74 Some one else was watching me
77 Who ever takes the Mid-Hants Railway: there is well stocked model railroad shop in Alston's High Street
78 Our return journey was again powered by the West Country loco
82 We thoroughly enjoyed the sound of the labouring locomotive and the glorious view over the countryside
84 Hear the sound of a three-cylinder leisurely trundling through the countryside (open up your sound settings)