Last sunday the Watercress Line held its annual War on the Line event and with it being Fathers Day it seemed liked the perfect time to visit with the family. The event is set in the time when World War II was well underway and all along the railway there was hectic activity! Service men and women were dashing about, loved ones said goodbye to each other and evacuees boarded trains to the country. ‘Spivs’ were seen peddling their black market wares whilst trying to avoid the police. The Bomb Disposal Unit was kept very busy as planes fly overhead and there was even an inspection by Churchill and her majesty.
We begun our day at Alresford and you could tell straight away this wasnt your typical railway gala with reenactors up and down the platform with the Black 5 simmering behind creating a brilliant atmosphere. Seeing the Black 5 however was odd as I was expecting to see Cheltenham on the first train but sadly she was declared unfit to run but steam is still steam. Later in the day a bigger surprise was in order when I saw Wadebridge in the yard and a class 37 diesel hauling passenger trains. This did cause a lot of jokes and complaints from passengers about authentic a diesel during World War 2 was.
Apart from all the War on the Line stuff what made this different was the company I had, typically when I visit with Dave we do the usual enthusiast things and head for various photo locations we know however with my family in tow I got to see what a visit to the line was like for the typical punter. This included visiting the end of the platform to see the locomotive. The fireman on the Black 5 was really kind and allowed us onto the footplate and showed my 5 year old daughter how everything worked which she found amazing. We also got to visit the Alresford signal box to see how everything worked and again my daughter was amazed …. it seems I might have a future railway enthusiast on my hands.
At the end of the day we had a fly past by a Spitfire and a hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which was a spectacular end to the days visit and to quote my daughter they were “AMAZING”. The flypast on the Saturday had to be cancelled due to bad weather so we were very lucky to see them on the Sunday.
I hope you enjoyed my quick look at the war on the line event, it was a great day out and I will definitely come back next year.