Walk the Line – Life on the Watercress Line

Episode 12

Welcome to Walk the Line where members of the public raise money for the Watercress Line. It is an opportunity to see the railway from ground level and at walking pace!

950 walkers, with many assorted dogs, took up the challenge to Walk the Line on a Sunday last November. It was a beautiful autumnal morning when the walkers set off but torrential rain arrived during the walk.

Many of the walkers ‘signed on’ in Alresford and took the vintage ‘rail replacement buses’ to Alton so that they could walk the whole length of the railway. The walk from Alton is uphill all the way to just before Medstead & Four Marks station and then downhill for the rest of the way.

The money raised by the walkers is being used to replace 1,000 yards of ballast between Medstead and Ropley.

Walk the Line 2019 is on the 9th November – follow the link to the events page and scroll down to the bottom for the details.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The theme and incidental music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019

Driving and Firing Experience pt. 3 – WC Ep. 11

Welcome to part 3 of the Driving and Firing Experience offered by  the Watercress Line. The afternoon was my opportunity to drive a steam engine  – something that I’d wanted to do since I was a child!

Three of us were trainees that afternoon, guided by an excellent Watercress Line driver and fireman. This podcast starts as leave Alresford, for the second time, for the uphill climb to Ropley.

After reaching Ropley we went on a tour of the engineering sheds. The sheds enable the line to carry out work on the locomotives and carriages.

We then returned to Cheltenham for the final section, downhill, to Alresford. I was the driver for this last section but, as you will hear, I forgot about the ‘handbrake’. Silly of me as I’d spent ages putting it on!

You can learn from the driving instructions and from the informal conversations during the afternoon.

It was an amazing experience on a warm and sunny early autumn afternoon.

If you’d like to try the Firing and Driving Experience, or know someone who would, click here. It is a wonderful three hour experience.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for Walk the Line in the series Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The theme and incidental music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019

Driving and Firing Experience pt. 2 – WC Ep. 10

Welcome to part 2 of the Driving and Firing Experience offered by  the Watercress Line. My opportunity to do something that I’d wanted to do since I was a child!

Drive a steam engine!!

There were three trainees that afternoon, guided by an excellent Watercress Line driver and fireman. The podcast starts as we reach Ropley after an uphill climb from Alresford.

This episode takes you from our arrival into Ropley, on to Medstead and then all the way back down the hill, through Ropley and on to Alresford.

You can learn, as we did, from the driving instructions and also from the informal conversation as we move between the stations.

It was a lovely early autumn afternoon – lots of sunshine.

If you’d like to try the Firing and Driving Experience, or love someone who would, click here. It is a wonderful three hour experience.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for part 3 of the Driving and Firing experience in the series Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The theme and incidental music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019

Driving and Firing Experience pt. 1 – WC Ep. 9

Welcome to this podcast about the Driving and Firing Experience offered by  the Watercress Line. This was my opportunity to do something that I’d wanted to do since I was a child!

Drive a steam engine!!

There were three trainees that afternoon, guided by an excellent Watercress Line driver and fireman. I drew the short straw and had to ‘fire’ the loco in preparation for our uphill journey to Ropley and Medstead/Four Marks. The others seemed to have a much easier job!

This episode takes you from our arrival at Alresford to starting off, up the hill towards Ropley.

It was a lovely early autumn afternoon – lots of sunshine. Maybe too warm for shovelling coal ….

If you’d like to do the Firing and Driving Experience click here. Its a wonderful three hour experience.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The theme and incidental music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019

Open Weekend on the Watercress Line – WC Ep. 8

Welcome to this podcast about the Open Weekend on the Watercress Line. The weekend enables you to go behind the scenes at this heritage railway and see what makes it steam. The weekend coincides with the Heritage Open Days programme and MHRPS members can come along for free.

There is an enhanced train service for the weekend with steam trains, the Hampshire diesel set and also freight train operations.

Becky Peacock, the project manager for the Canadian Pacific project, gave guided tours of the engineering works and the restoration projects.  There was a very interesting display about the role of women on the railways during the two World Wars.

I had the opportunity to visit the signal box at Ropley. Whilst I was there a non-stop freight train came through whilst a passenger train waited at the other platform.

Everyone who visited had a very interesting day out in beautiful weather. The dates of the Open Weekend on the Watercress Line for 2019 are the 14th and 15th September. For more details click this link.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The theme and incidental music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019

Santa’s Christmas Message

Welcome to this podcast of Santa’s Christmas Message. Today I’ve braved the snowstorms of the North Pole to get a few words with Santa. He is just about to set out. In just 24 hours Santa travels the world giving out the presents made the Elves.

Remember to leave a mince pie out for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer. Don’t forget that Santa only delivers your presents once you’re deeply asleep …….

My thanks to Santa, his team of on train ‘helpers’, the Elves that he left at the North Pole and all the passengers on the trains. My thanks also go to the members of the team at the Watercress Line who make these podcasts possible.

For over 60 years NORAD has tracked Santa’s progress around the globe every Christmas Eve. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is one of the few organisations that has equipment capable of tracking a sleigh moving as fast as Santa’s. Every year they track his progress so that you can see when he is likely to arrive. To follow Santa’s progress click here.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

Sound effects supplied courtesy of freeSFX (their web page ).

It Came upon the Midnight Clear in the Public domain (Mark 1.0) and Ding Dong Merrily on High (for mixed chorus, Harp and Cello-Salamon) by Ping is used under the licence CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 – both pieces supplied through Musopen.org

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

Santa Specials on the Watercress Line

Welcome to this podcast featuring the Santa Specials that run on the Watercress Line. Santa comes all the way from his home at the North Pole each time a train is running. During his visit his sleigh is looked after by the maintenance team at Ropley and, if you look carefully out of the train windows, you may see his reindeer in one of the fields by the track.

There is so much magic surrounding Santa and lots of this rubs off on the passengers. You can hear everybody having a wonderful time. I’ve not seen so many smiling faces since Santa’s visit last year.

I got the chance to talk to a slightly slimline Santa. Mrs Christmas put him on a strict diet over the last few months. He needed to slim down to make room for all the mice pies that he’ll eat as he travels the world on Christmas Eve. This year please also leave a carrot for his reindeer, as well as the mince pie.

I will also be talking with Santa on Christmas Eve. This will be just before he sets off on his marathon sleigh ride around the world. You can listen to us here from mid-afternoon (GMT) on the 24th.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

My thanks to Santa, his team of on train ‘helpers’, the Elves that he left at the North Pole and all the passengers on the trains. My thanks also go to the members of the team at the Watercress Line who make these podcasts possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join me on Christmas Eve for my interview with Santa, and then in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by The MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music. Deck the Halls (brass arrangement) by Michel Rondeau is used under the licence CC BY 3.0 and Ding Dong Merrily on High (for mixed chorus, Harp and Cello-Salamon) by Ping is used under the licence CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 – both pieces supplied through Musopen.org

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

The Canadian Pacific Restoration project – part 3

Welcome to  the Canadian Pacific restoration project – part 3.

This project, often called the CanPac project, is about the restoration of the Merchant Navy class locomotive, number 35005, Canadian Pacific and also two carriages designed by Oliver Bulleid in the 1940s.

In this episode we are in the boiler shop at Ropley. I talk to Becky and also to Sam, a fully qualified boiler inspector. Sam originally started as an apprentice at Ropley before leaving to become a boiler inspector. Tiring of inspections Sam returned earlier this year.

Becky and I talk about the progress of the project and Sam talks about the technical considerations of repairing boilers for steam engines.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

If you’d like to donate to this major project please follow this link.

My thanks to Becky and Sam for their time and the members of the team at the Watercress Line for making these podcasts possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line.

Join us in two weeks for the next episode of Life on the Watercress Line.

To visit the Canadian Pacific project web pages please follow this link Canadian Pacific project pages.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

The music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

The recording of Canadian Pacific in action is from material published by the Watercress Line.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

The Canadian Pacific Restoration project – part 2

Welcome to the second episode about the Canadian Pacific restoration project.

This project, often called the CanPac project, is about the restoration of the Merchant Navy class locomotive, number 35005, Canadian Pacific and also two carriages designed by Oliver Bulleid in the 1940s.

Becky explains that some parts of the locomotive are at Eastleigh works (where Canadian Pacific was originally built) and that the boiler is at Ropley.

Some of the people working on the restoration at Eastleigh actually worked in the works when it was operated by British Rail. The boiler shop, at Ropley, is well equipped and has welders who are certified to work on  ‘pressure systems’.

Becky also talks about the cost of the restoration project and where the funding has come from. There are still many opportunities to donate to the project – perhaps by paying for a ‘boiler stay’!

We then move outside and into the busy yard to see the bogies and frame for Canadian Pacific’s tender. Once we’ve crossed the yard we enter the carriage shop where the two Bulleid coaches are being restored. We discuss the materials originally used for building these carriages. There are a number of photographs of the restoration of the carriages in the gallery.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

My thanks to Becky for her time and the members of the team at the Watercress Line for making these podcasts possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line

Join us in two weeks for our final podcast about the restoration project for the Merchant Navy class locomotive Canadian Pacific, the pride of the Watercress Line fleet. To visit the Canadian Pacific project web pages please follow this link Canadian Pacific project pages.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

The music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music. The recording of Canadian Pacific in action is from material published by the Watercress Line.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

The Canadian Pacific Restoration Project – part 1

The Canadian Pacific restoration project, often called the CanPac project, concerns the restoration of the Merchant Navy class locomotive, number 35005, Canadian Pacific.

The Merchant Navy class was designed by Oliver Bulleid for the Southern Railway  early in the Second World War. The locomotive brought together many innovations from across the world – some worked well, others didn’t!

Oliver Bulleid was a very persuasive person; this allowed him to produce such an innovative design.

Canadian Pacific was the fifth locomotive to be built at the Eastleigh works in 1941 and entered service on 13 January 1942. She worked hard on passenger and freight trains during the war and after the war the Merchant Navy class were used on boat trains to Southampton and on ‘named’ express trains such as the Bournemouth Belle.

The Merchant Navy class were very heavy locomotives weighing 97 tons and  this meant they couldn’t work services past Exeter. A smaller ‘light Pacific’ class (with, for example, smaller boilers) evolved from the Merchant Navy class and retained many of their novel features. Although one type of locomotive they are often referred to as two classes – the West Country class and the Battle of Britain class.

The Merchant Navy locomotives (and the West Country / Battle of Britain locomotives) originally had an ‘air smoothed’ casing resulting in the nickname Spam Cans. This was removed during a major rebuilding programme in the late 1950s where some of the unique features were replaced with more standard designs.

On 15th May 1965 Canadian Pacific, pulling a Bournemouth express, reached 105 m.p.h whilst travelling down Winchester Bank.

Sadly she was withdrawn from service later in 1965.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

My thanks to Becky for her time and the members of the team at the Watercress Line for making these podcasts possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line

Join us in two weeks for our second podcast about the restoration project for the Merchant Navy class locomotive ‘Canadian Pacific’. This express locomotive is the pride of the Watercress Line fleet. To visit the Canadian Pacific project page please follow this link Canadian Pacific project pages.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

The music Steam Railway used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music. The recording of the locomotive is from material published by the Watercress Line.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

War on the Line Weekend – Ropley and Alresford – Episode 2

Our second visit to the War on the Line weekend takes us to Ropley and Alresford stations. Most visitors coming by car park at Ropley as there is free parking (the car parks at Alresford and Alton are ‘pay and display’). Ropley is the station with the most space available for displays.

The episode begins with a description of the activities taking place during the weekend at the station. A ‘light’ locomotive is waiting to go down the line to Alresford to haul the first train of the day back up the line to Alton. When the road is clear we hear the locomotive set off down the line.

Whilst at Ropley we see someone shovelling yesterday’s ash from the ash pit in the loco yard and wheeling it to the ash pile in his barrow. Is he on punishment detail? Or maybe an enemy prisoner on a work detail?

I talk to the wireless operator who is communicating with people far away. He is using a ‘set’ that was used in the Second World War and has a design range of 15 miles no matter the terrain. In reality he can speak to people much further away.

I also talk to the team dealing with unexploded bombs (UXB) – occasionally there is a loud bang but as these are re-enactors it is all quite safe! Unlike the real thing if it goes wrong!!! Its amazing – they started out at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford.

Next the big band leader tells us about the places where they have performed and the charitable collection that they are making.

After this I talk to Sheila Love about the organisation of the event and travel to Alresford where American Military personnel are dancing outside the station under the watchful eyes of the MPs.

Click on a photograph to open the gallery:

My thanks to all the passengers, re-enactors, volunteers and staff on the Watercress Line for making this possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line

Join us in two weeks for our first podcast on the restoration project for the Merchant Navy class locomotive ‘Canadian Pacific’. This express locomotive has travelled at over 100 mph and is the pride of the Watercress Line fleet.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

The music ‘Steam Railway’ used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

War on the Line Weekend – Alton and Medstead & Four Marks – Episode 1

Every summer the Watercress Line recreates the atmosphere of the early 1940s with the War on the Line weekend where there are different themes at each of it’s stations. In this episode we visit platform 3 at Alton station – the interchange between the Watercress Line and the national rail network – where we meet the singer entertaining the passengers and then we board the train to travel down the line (but for the steam engine it is uphill all the way!) to Medstead and Four Marks station to see the activities taking place there.

At Medstead and Four Marks I meet a family who appear to be engaged in some illicit sales activities, we visit the RAF plotting centre where they’re keeping tabs on the aircraft in the skies above, we participate in the Church Parade and visit the shop that has moved into the waiting room on the ‘down’ platform after being bombed out of their premises in town.

I also talk to Sheila Love, the organiser of the event and Colin Fuller who has been involved in War on the Line for many years.

Click on a photograph to open the gallery.

In part 2, to be published mid October, we will visit Ropley and Alresford stations and hear more from Sheila Love about organising the event.

My thanks to all the passengers, reenactors, volunteers and staff on the Watercress Line for making this possible.

To visit the Watercress Line website please follow this link Watercress Line

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from FlickrFacebook and some through Instagram.

The music ‘Steam Railway’ used in this podcast is licensed from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2018

Open Weekend and Heritage Open Days

Join the Watercress Line over the weekend of 15th / 16th September where the line will be celebrating the theme Extraordinary Women.

Explore behind the scenes at the Ropley Engineering hub and visit the exhibition about the roles played by women.

There will be a two-train service on both days.

Full details can be found at Open weekend

I’ll be there recording material for a podcast to be published later in the year.