Imagine a rural world before the Internet, home deliveries, mains gas and mass car ownership. How would you get your coal to light your fire at night? Where would your newspapers come from? If you were to move house – how would you? What about all the foodstuffs grown locally – how would these be taken to market? Things like these and many others besides were answered by the railway, that transformed rural economies and ways of life.
You may well ask what has any of this to do with a crane – well a lot, as it happens. Loading docks with cranes were common at rural communities as a means of loading off products brought In and loading on local produce. Yet despite that, they are a rare sight on preserved railways. The Watercress Line arguably has one of the best range of freight wagons of at heritage railway and now it has one of the finishing touches for this – a station with a crane.
A Stothert and Pit crane was donated by the Basingstoke Canal Society, who had decided it’d unlikely find a home for it. It was formally handed over on 2nd October by the chairman of the society (Philip riley) to the president of the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society, Robin Higgs. Set around granite sets from Kings Cross Goods Yard and blue engineering bricks, it really looks the part at Medstead and Four Marks station.
So when you next visit the Watercress Line, look out for the crane and imagine a different world! Thanks for reading!