Last Sunday, after exploring Alton (click here to read that article) I dropped into Ropley. As ever, there was much going on there; despite only one locomotive being in steam on the line that day. The first sight here was of Schools class 925 Cheltenham arriving from Alresford; passing Hampshire Thumper DEMU (class 205) 1125 that was purring nicely on a test run.
After both trains departed, it was time to explore the loco yard! Unfortunately the yard was closed for public access due to the class 11 diesel shunter 12049 shunting locomotives around the depot. Looking from the access gate; unrebuilt West Country class pacific 34007 Wadebridge could be seen.
Fortunately whilst waiting at the gate, I helped a couple of volunteers with a wheelbarrow going through the gate and one of them then offered to take me through. Of course I jumped at the opportunity!
After a look up and down the yard, 925 Cheltenham slipped whilst leaving the station (see above, passing U class 31806). The volunteer said that conditions must be very slippery, as one of the line’s most experienced drivers was in charge of the train. After this, he took me through the engine shed. Unfortunately it was too dark for photographs, but I can report that work on standard 4MT’s 4-6-0 75079 and 2-6-0 76017 is progressing nicely, both being likely to be completed in 12-18 months time. West Country class 34105 Swanage was also being worked on and being prepared for the boiler to be removed.
The views of the yard will improve very soon. Work has been made on putting up the footbridge (see below) from Kings Cross Station. This substantial structure featured in the Harry Potter films and will provide an excellent vantage point when open to the public.