The Branch Line Society

Guest



Mid Hants Railway
Saturday 22nd February 2014

On a warm sunny spring morning, 86 members met at Alton station for a long awaited and comprehensive MHR tour. Our consist was a brake van and Mk. 1 coach top and tailed by 08377 (country end) and Class 11 12082 (London end). The latter masquerades as 12049 sadly scrapped after fire damage at Ropley in 2010. With no movements taking place, line side photography was permitted in Alton station. Then various shunts covered the run-round loop and siding, also the passing loop just outside the station and its siding in each case up to stabled stock. On leaving Alton, the end of that siding became trackbed trailing away southwest - the Meon Valley Railway to Fareham. The remains of the Basingstoke & Alton Light Railway were on the other side heading northwest, although Buggleskelly was too far off to see. 08377 worked hard up the incline 'The Alps' to Medstead & Four Marks where the loop siding was covered. It then took the brake van for two trips over the goods yard as there was insufficient space to reverse the whole train. Whilst this shunt took place, some metal fencing was noticed obstructing the line to the station approach road gates. Two keen BLS stewards spoke to some MHR staff who kindly cleared it. Those on the first brake van trip were amazed to cover track they had just seen was blocked!

The train recombined, it was off to Alresford. Here unfortunately 37905 was stabled on the road outside the workshop, not quite allowing even the split train to clear the points to access the shed and workshops lines. While one party did the track, the other could look round the shed area. Some walked to the picnic area above the station on the other side and confirmed reports that the former 10ΒΌ" miniature railway had been lifted. Inevitably, as our tour was leaving, 37905 fired up and cleared the headshunt!

Then downhill to Alresford and a highlight for those who had not traversed the line as a through route to Winchester Jct. (CA 5th February 1973). Various shunts took place to cover all 4 sidings to the stabled stock. Everyone was surprised at the length of these sidings and how much coaching stock the MHR has! At the London end, the Cattle Dock line was covered although stock stopped us short of the dock itself.

With all available track covered, Kev Adlam lived up to his reputation for going the extra mile by arranging travel on the steam hauled service train at no extra cost behind The NRM's 30925 Cheltenham. Our railtour did not adversely affect the normal MHR services. Our tour also had new haulage, 12082 being replaced by 37905.

There can be few, if any, members who had any regrets about sticking with this superb visit after a competing railtour to Cliffe Vale was advertised well after our members-only tour was full. All the MHR staff were particularly friendly and co-operative, and seemed to enjoy this unique day as much as we did!