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  1. Good morning Harry and well spotted! I had forgotten about that photo. It's not in the current digitised set but we may have a print in the archives - I'll check. The photo was taken on one of the occasions when the main line was closed - in this case due to a landslip at Hook, I think - and services ran via the Mid-Hants. I suspect that this is the 1931 layout, unless it was altered during the War for some reason. In the first (hardback) edition of Roger's book, which I have here, the image extends further to the right and you can see the switches for the "new" crossover, just past the end of the loading ramp. That means that the loop formed by the two crossovers can't have been more than about 250ft long. I'll send a PM about the digital folder. Keith.
  2. Hi Harry. Anything we have in the archives (with the exception of some recent papers) can be viewed by appointment. I used to use the upstairs extension at Ropley as a reading room but this has recently been converted to an office so I'm currently using the stationmaster's office at Medstead. This means that I need a little bit of notice to transport stuff. I can let you know a bit more about what we have in the way of plans when I've had a chance to get in. We have quite a lot of photos but the more interesting ones are available in digital form. I can PM you a link to the digital archive for your personal use if you like. The drawing in the Network Rail archive (it's on their online shop so you can buy copies) is the original plans and elevations for Ropley and Itchen Abbas station houses, which were identical as built. It's water coloured and looks very nice. Both station houses were extended in the 1890s. Itchen Abbas was first and they got the original builders (Bull & Sons of Southampton) to add an extra bay in the original style. Sadly, by the time they came to do Ropley, Bulls had gone out of business and the extension there is, shall we say, a little bit less architecturally distinguished... All of the original platform shelters disappeared years ago, Alresford when the present waiting room was built and Ropley and Itchen Abbas after the platforms were taken out of use in 1931, and photographic evidence is only fragmentary. However the floor area could be deduced from the station plans and the station building at Medstead was an enlarged version in the same style, so it should be possible to put together a reasonable reproduction from such evidence as is available. Hope that helps, Keith.
  3. Hi Harry - apologies for the delayed reply. We have various copies of the SR estates dept plan of the Ropley site which may be illuminating, but they are quite large and I don't have copies at home. I should be going into Ropley later this week so I'll see if I can dig out a suitable plan which I can at least photograph for you, which should give you a better idea. As you may have gathered from my earlier reply, photographic evidence of this end of the site is a bit thin on the ground. What I can say is that the present yard access crossover basically follows the line of the original yard turnout (albeit a bit further towards Medstead) and the wheel drop shed occupies the alignment of the siding immediately behind the platform, so I'd say the best way to judge whether you've got it right is to take a look from the vantage point of the Harry Potter bridge. Originally, the points leading into the yard were right at the end of the platform (i.e. the tips of the switches were opposite the bottom of the platform ramp) and the yard turnout took a wide sweep, curving back in to run parallel to the single line under the bridge towards Medstead. The points leading into the sidings behind the platform formed the other half of the crossover, at the point where it started to run parallel to the main line. The loading platform was just beyond this. You may be aware that in later years there was a second crossover (facing for trains coming from Medstead) at the other end of the loading platform, forming a short loop. I think that this, and the extension of the long siding under Bighton Road bridge, were put in when the platform loop was taken out. We have a photo taken at about this time, looking east from the bridge, showing the long siding looking very new! I hope that's helpful. Keith.
  4. Not quite the morning I'm afraid but here are a couple of photos which will illustrate the pre-1931 track and signalling layout. The first one shows the east end of the layout with the signal box and loop still in situ. Clock the enormous co-acting down home signal (necessitated by Bighton Hill bridge). This must have been visible from the end of Ropley Soke cutting, 1½ miles away! There is also an up advanced starting signal against the bridge. All the Mid-Hants stations had advanced starters but no outer homes (Medstead country end only) - a curious arrangement as you would have had to release a tablet to allow shunting onto the single line anyway. I can only assume that this was a rather elaborate "limit of shunt" arrangement. This photo dates from the summer of 1922. The rather dapper young chap on the barrow is the 17 year old Bert Mead, who was a junior clerk at Ropley in 1922-23. The second photo dates from the late 1920s. You can see the curvature of the down loop and just make out the crossing at the end of the platform. The porter in this shot is Bert Hatch, who was the son of the Alton stationmaster. (I met him many years later, in his old age). The print is captioned on the reverse "me carrying the waybills for the milk". We have a print of another photo which clearly shows the wiggle in the line after the loop was taken out, but unfortunately I can't reproduce this for copyright reasons. Turning to the matter of goods facilities, these were always rather limited at all the stations except Alresford. The main traffics would be what you would expect at a rural station, basically coal, animal feed and fertiliser and general merchandise in, livestock in and out and timber and agricultural produce out. The platform in the yard appears to have dealt with the kind of general merchandise which would normally be dealt with in a goods shed, albeit in the open. I'm not aware that there was a fixed cattle dock at Ropley but at Medstead the loading platform had removable hurdles (usually seen stacked up agains the end of the goods lock-up) so Ropley may have had a similar arrangement. There was quite a bit of equestrian traffic at one time (the Hampshire Hunt is still based in Ropley) so it may well have been used for this as was the dock at Alresford. The northernmost of the two sidings served an end loading dock behind the signal box (now covered over by the present wheel drop shed). This used to have an enormous concrete loading ramp at the end and I wouldn't mind betting (although I have no direct evidence) that during WW2 it was used for unloading tanks for dispersal prior to D Day. I imagine that the southernmost was the "mileage siding" for goods such as coal which were charged at mileage rates. I very much doubt that there was a three way point here - you always have to take track layouts shown in old OS maps with a pinch of salt. In the first photo you can see part of the goods lock-up behind the platform, which dates from the 1880s and was built from old sleepers. This was used to store small consignments which were carried by the road box service, which would be loaded and unloaded at the platform. All the Mid-Hants line stations had one of these but the only survivor is at Medstead. (This is now used as a museum space and the old porters wouldn't recognise the interior!) The watercress beds were (and are) centred around the river Alre and the other tributaries of the Itchen. The Alre rises from springs at Bishop's Sutton (between Ropley and Alresford) and Alresford was always the railhead for this traffic. (You can still see traces of disused beds from the train shortly before it enters Alresford cutting.) As you say, Ropley station must have been a tranquil place in the old days. (It's very different now, of course.) It was (and is) remote from the centre of the village and the most direct route to the station for pedestrians was via a right of way which ran diagonally across a farmer's field, across Bighton Hill by the bridge and alongside the yard. Like a lot of rural stations, during the 1920s the passenger business largely disappeared when a bus service started up along the main road and the general merchandise and livestock traffics were gradually taken over by lorries. It was really the coal traffic that kept it going until Beeching put an end to wagonload freight in the 1960s (although Bert Hatch told me that there was a tarmac plant in the yard before WW2 so presumably there was some tanker traffic then.) That's a rather long post, I'm afraid, but I hope it's helpful. Keith.
  5. Hi Harry. I’m the Mid-Hants Railway’s archivist and I’ve just come across this. The crossing at the country end of Ropley platforms ~ formerly known as “Evans’s” - was an accommodation crossing provided to allow access for the local farmer to a field on the north side of the railway. Until 1931 it was also used by members of the public to cross between the platforms, there being no footbridge until the 1980s. The crossing remains in use although in recent years it has been renamed “Blake’s” to commemorate a long-standing volunteer member of the station staff. You are quite right that in the original layout the up platform was served by the main line and the down platform by the loop. This layout was common to all the Mid-Hants line stations (whichever side the buildings were on) and I guess that the intention was to give the straight run to trains facing up the gradient. When the up platform at Ropley was taken out of use in 1931, at first the single line wiggled into and out of the remaining platform where the loop points had been. When the line was relaid after WW2, the track was re-aligned and the wiggles were taken out. Then in 1976 the preservationists superimposed an up loop on this alignment, so the present layout is the reverse of the original. I’m not aware of any clear photographs of the crossing in the period you’re interested in but I can certainly find one or two to illustrate the track and signalling layout. I’ll dig them out for you tomorrow. It’s time for bed now! Keith.
  6. My GPs’ surgery in Alton actually has a model railway beneath the floor of the waiting area, with Perspex panels in the floor above the stations. I’ve never seen a train move but I think they must play with it after hours because every time I visit they are in different places.
  7. I travelled by train to school in Dorking in the late 60s and early 70s and I distinctly remember that one of the regular porters used to announce “Olmwood, Ockley, Warnorsham”. I always wondered where that was.
  8. 2x 4TC. In the early days there were few 3TCs (omitting the TFK) as they didn't have enough 4REPs and some trains were formed 11TC + 2x EDL. (The short sets were necessary to fit the platforms at Waterloo.) I'm not sure what they did at the end, when REPs were being withdrawn to provide motive power for 442s, but my impression is that almost anything was possible. As an aside, we had LUL's 4TC at the Mid-Hants diesel gala the other weekend, working in push-pull with 2x EDL. It must be the first time it's done that for years!
  9. With the advent of ERTMS a few years ago the old “gasbag” points on the Cambrian loops disappeared and they are now motored. The point on the right (facing for up trains) give access to an engineer’s siding which runs past the end of the Talyllyn Railway’s Wharf station. It is mechanically worked by a ground frame released from Machynlleth.
  10. This is brilliant news. It must be the first time any RTR manufacturer has presented us with one of the classic Southern open merchandise wagons with the "South Western" (or in this case South Eastern) top doors. And with the sheet rail to boot! I'm with others in hoping that this project will be a big success for Rapido. Would it be too greedy to hope for the LSWR (SR diagram 1316) and SR (diagram 1379 and 1400) 8 plank equivalents in due course...? The latter were on the contemporary RCH standard chassis, which would offer some manufacturing flexibility.
  11. The three blue/cream corridors went to NYMR. I rode in them there, still in DVR paintwork. They had white rose stickers over the double arrows on the carriage mirrors!
  12. Not quite. In the third series one of the characters is a fitter in the (old) shed at Aber and one or two scenes are shot in there - he's seen working on the carriages. The Devil's Bridge scenes are shot in and around the Hafod Hotel and on the road bridge (a couple of the victims get tipped over the side). The railway terminus is round the corner out of sight. Hinterland is well worth watching if you haven't seen it - very atmospheric (and not just the rain)!
  13. The Dart Valley Railway is known to have run 5 coach auto trains in the early days, with a 14xx in the middle. One wonders how the drivers got on with 3 coaches leading. In theory, with off-centre mechanical rodding working fore and aft, one would expect the regulator opening to vary when the train goes round corners. I have been assured by an SVR driver familiar with auto working that this is not in fact so, and I can only assume that this is because of the amount of slop in the system. 3 coaches leading was the maximum allowed with the SR (ex-LBSC) air control system. I believe that this limit was imposed by the Ministry of Transport, but I’m happy to be corrected on that. In practice this probably didn’t happen very often - most p-p sets were 2 coaches and there were very few air fitted loose coaches - but the SR did have some air fitted four wheel luggage vans which could be formed between the loco and a 2 coach set.
  14. The claim is that it's the world's first pixel mappable LED train. I don't think anyone is suggesting that it's the first ever illuminated train. I believe it's also the first time in the UK that a railway has run two illuminated trains simultaneously. I have to say that it's really rather impressive!
  15. If you'll forgive just a little more OT rambling on the subject of Philips / Mullard, the late Fritz Philips' memoir (published in English as 45 Years with Philips) includes an interesting account of Eindhoven during the War. This was published in 1978 but secondhand copies are readily available.
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