micbinks - UK holiday, leisure & tourist attraction images

Tourist & Leisure Attractions - Watercress Line

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Mid Hants Steam Railway, The Watercress Line, July 2010

We've visited plenty of preserved railways and ridden in many timeless steam trains on our travels, usually as part of our annual holiday, but not this year.  So to keep Mike happy Belinda allowed him an outing to the Watercress Line - the heritage Mid Hants Railway.  It runs from Alresford to Alton along a route that was once part of the Southern Railway.  So join us as we chuff through the Hampshire countryside on the Mid Hants Steam Railway's Watercress Line.

Alresford station building, the Mid Hants Railway
Alresford is the Mid Hants Railway's headquarters, the traditional station building certainly looked the part and we arrived in plenty of time to catch our steam train to Alton on the Watercress Line in Hampshire.

The Watercress Line ticket office at Alresford, Hampshire
We (or rather Mike) just love these restored old stations!  The Watercress Line booking office here at Alresford looked just the 'ticket' decked out in traditional Southern Railway green.

Steam train glides into Alresford station
It wasn't long before the steam train, dead on time and with a blow of its whistle, chuffed effortslessly into Alresford, watched and photographed by the many enthralled people on the period platform.  We took this photo from...

No. 34007 Wadebridge, a West Country class steam locomotive on the Mid Hants Railway
...the passenger footbridge which you can see here.  Hissing and spitting, engine No. 34007, a West Country class locomotive called 'Wadebridge' that clocked up 823,193 miles in mainline service, drew elegantly to a halt.

Mid Hants Railway staff on Alresford station platform
At Alresford there's the Mid Hants Railway's goods shed and passenger facilities here include a small buffet.  There was no hurry to board as they shunted the steam locomotive round to the other end...

Coupling the steam locomotive to the front of the train on the Watercress Line
...and couple it up at what was now the front of the train.  Note the steam railway buff on the opposite platform taking a photo!  An adult ticket on the Watercress Line cost 12 for all day travel.

Boarding the steam train at Alresford
The whistle blew and the guard stood ready with his green flag so at this point we decided to get onboard before the steam train left without us!  See below for other preserved steam railway lines we've visited.

Inside view of the Mid Hants Railway carriages
At first glance the carriages didn't look too dissimilar to modern ones, then a closer look - the light fittings, door handles, luggage racks - and you realise they're restored rolling stock, especially as they're so clean!

Taking on water at Ropley station on the Watercress Line
The steam train stopped at Ropley station for a while as it took on water to climb the steep 1 in 60 gradient ahead.  Ropley is also the Mid Hants Railway's engineering base with a locomotive yard, restoration projects sheds, plus it has a handy picnic area.

Alton station platforms
Mid Hants Steam Railway shares Alton station with the mainline which allows visitors to travel to the Watercress Line by rail.  We couldn't help but notice the contrast between the mainline platforms and the Watercress one on platform 3, which was much more attractive; it was clean, had lots of flowers, smart helpful staff and... the trains ran right on time!

Mid Hants Railway hold a World War ll day with music and dress from the era to mark the railway's use to transport troops, arriving at Southampton, to London.  There's many video clips on YouTube.

Mid Hants Railway steam locomotive standing at Alton station
A close shot of the steam locomotive; look closely and you can see a little boy with his father on the platform who's explaining the workings of steam engines, just as Mike's dad did with him in the sixties when steam working was on its way out.

The Watercress Line: Alton station platform scene
A final shot of Alton station then.  The Watercress Line is so called because the local Watercress farmers used it to transport their Watercress to the London markets, right up until British Railways closed this Hampshire line in 1973.

Passing through Medstead & Four Marks on the Watercress Line
Heading back now and passing through Medstead & Four Marks, the highest station in Southern England.  Here the former goods yard houses the Mid Hants Railway's Permanent Way, signals and building departments.

Observing the shunting operations on The Mid Hants Steam Railway
Back at Alresford we observed a rerun of the shunting of the steam locomotive to the other end of the carriages, this time with a lot of lovely steam, observed by this man in a stripy t-shirt!  He could just be an older version of...

Steam train in at Alresford station on the Mid Hants Railway
...this boy in a stripy t-shirt!  Could be a budding heritage steam railway bod... well maybe not, looks like he's bothered by all that noisy, hissing steam.

Steam loco 4-6-2 wheel arrangement - Mid Hants Railway
One for all you steam railway enthusiasts - the wheels of the steam engine!  A steam loco buff will tell you the wheel arrangement is a 4-6-2; er, oh, right.

Watercress Line: loco No. 34007 leaves Alresford station
The metaphor signal's a go and the Watercress Line steam train started its journey once again...


Can't get enough of steam trains?  We've collected together some relevant Mid Hants Railway and other preserved railway tourism resources.

Other heritage steam lines we've visited: West Somerset Railway, South Devon Railway, Swanage Railway in Dorset, Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway (Cumbria), North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Strathspey Steam Railway (Highlands).


Oh, don't forget these narrow gauge preserved steam lines we've enjoyed too:
Snowdon Mountain Railway, Lappa Valley, Welshpool & Llanfair Caereinion Railway and Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway.