So tonight is the night before the big day – my first day as a Project Supervisor for the Watercress Line! I have the usual combination of being excited and a few nerves to prove that I’m human. The prospect of working for one of my favourite organisations is definitely an incredible feeling, plus there’s prospect of getting my teeth into a challenge that I really want to do well that does not help the nerves caused by the high expectations of myself! The Project to overhaul the immense 35005 Canadian Pacific is very special – not just because of the result of there being a finished steam engine and two Bulleid carriages at the end of it.
After spending some time reading through the documents associated with the CanPac project, it’s struck me how incredible the scope of the Project is. The Project is not just about overhauling a steam engine, it’s trying to connect this work – (the skills, know-how and enthusiasm) to pass on to new people and a new generation. The Watercress Line are not alone in having concerns about the future of heritage railways associated with their reliance on an ageing volunteer workforce. But I would say that the railway are one of the most proactive in ensuring that they will last in the longer term. It is for this reason that they thoroughly deserve to win the National Lottery Awards 2015 (click here for more and please vote!)
As you can imagine, there’s only so much that I can write tonight as I prepare for the next day, but before I go I would like to ask everyone out there to start asking yourself, friends and family if they or they know anyone who would like to become a part of engineering history and learn some skills along the way. There is an opportunity to learn and/or develop new skills that could change your life. This steam engine is massive and an incredible piece of engineering (look at the image above of a cut-away of a classmate to give you an idea of the inner workings of the machine.) The work will be carried out in Eastleigh, the steam engine’s birthplace, so as long as you’re able to get there you could easily become involved.
And on the subject of life changing decisions, I better get on and get ready for tomorrow. I’ll leave you with our appeal for funding of this project.
We still have to raise another £605,000 for the £1.5million CanPac project. The project will see not just the overhaul of 35005 Canadian Pacific but also 2 wooden Bulleid coaches. The boiler work alone is expected to exceed £100,000; so anything you can give will be gratefully appreciated, no matter how small you think it might be.
Both links take you to the Mid Hants Railway Website which is where you can find out more information on how you can help. Thank you.