War on the Line

Arriving at Alresford Station on the Watercress Line for the “War on the Line” weekend I could hear 1940s music and see people dancing on a large wooden dance floor. Going through the ticket office, as well as my ticket and a timetable, I was given a period identity card and a brief history or the role of the Watercress Line during the war.

Lots of people had come dressed in period costume and were walking around the stations and on the trains. There were troops from all different regiments and allied countries, women dressed appropriately for the period, a spiv chatting up all the ladies and selling black market items, and even children dressed as evacuees. Wayne spotted Captain Mainwaring from the Home Guard. All to try to create a wartime atmosphere.

All the station signs were covered up and there were no platform announcements in case there were any reconnoitring German spies. The glass in the all the windows had been criss-crossed with blast tape and a couple of layers of sandbags on the windowsills. Outside the café there was a roped off unexploded bomb, although that didn’t put me off having my lunch in there.

At Medstead and Four Marks there was a small Russian encampment on the side of the banking. Behind this there was a temporary shop and make-up area for all the people in costume. Here they could purchase clothes and have their hair done. Access to this area was strictly controlled and you needed special tokens to get in.

In one of the shops I managed to find some more of the British Steam Railway DVDs that I collect, as well as pin badges from the RAF Royal British Legion. I was also able to get a Watercress Line Members’ pin badge.