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
10¼" 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!