The Opening of the Watercress Line, 1977

Nelson Trowbridge, a resident of South Close in Alresford, recorded the opening of the Watercress Line, the restored rail line from Alresford to Ropley, in 1977 with a collection of photographs, some reproduced here.

8483740686_96c5e849a9_kNelson records the background as follows.

The Watercress Line was closed by British Rail in 1973. Soon after, the stretch of line from Winchester to Alresford was sold.

The length of now disused track from Bridge Road, Alresford to New Farm Road was offered to residents in South Close, those whose gardens linked with the cutting, but not one section was bought!8483720544_cd47115f84_k

After restoration, the Alresford to Alton line was re-opened to the public on Saturday 30th April 1977. The first run was from Alresford to Ropley, and back (3 miles each way), hauled by the locomotive Azalar Line, (either 31874 or 46229, maybe someone can tell us) and driven by its owner John Bunch.

Crowds of people flocked to watch at the stations, on bridges and from fields beside the line. In the station car park the Fire Service added interest with an appliance driven by heavy horses.8482674343_8a902cf2f9_z

After the return journey, visiting dignitaries made speeches and then newspaper reporters and TV crews relaxed with beer and sandwiches in a buffet car, in a siding at Alresford.

The original photo collection is held by the Alresford Museum, and can be seen on-line at http://www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632787693809/

These include some scenes from the track and engine restoration work carried out at Ropley station.

If anyone can identify themselves please let us know!

 

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