Dawn to Dusk Day 2018 The Itchen Abbas Station Walk

Itchen-Abbas-Station-sign

There was a real team spirit as 10 people led by ex-archivist of the Watercress Line, Chris Cornell, discovered new artefacts including original track bed ripped up in in the 1970s between Couch Green and Itchen Abbas station: did you know…

  • Railway line Telegraph poles were constructed to have their top cross bar facing London
  • The iron bracket keeping tracks in place are called sleepers (although no spies were involved)
  • There are two joining old sunken lanes joining the main track bed,  one called Grey’s level crossing possibly where cattle were driven and milk delivered to the railway
  • Jane Austen’s nephew Edward Knight was very important in setting up the railway between Alton and Winchester in the 1860s

Perhaps the strangest  fact is that many agricultural products were transported by the Mid Hants Line but the name The Turnip line just doesn’t seem to have the same resonance as Watercress.

Coffee and hot chocolate at the Plough were very welcome on such a chilly spring day and gave a warm venue to check out old  photos and maps of the railway line axed by Beeching in the late 1960s.

It wasn’t until 1973 the station was shut and the line closed down because of fierce local opposition.

Unfortunately  it was too late to open up the railway between Alresford and Kings Worthy like the eastern section to Alton because the M3 was carved through the route and many cuttings filled in by building waste.

Heritage nostalgia is certainly more of a feature of the current decade than it was in the 1960s!

Interestingly many of the houses built on the site of the old station have been named to remind us of the thundering steam and early diesel trains which used to pass hourly through the Itchen Valley – you might expect Station House and Woodland Halt and of course Railway Cottages but perhaps even more inspired is just simply: Beeching!

Kim Adams, Watercress Way trustee

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