Mid Hants Railway Ltd 'Watercress Line'

Let off steam and travel by one of our lovingly restored Steam trains through 10 miles of beautiful Hampshire countryside.


It’s the perfect way to unwind and witness the sights, sounds, smells and magic of steam travel from a bygone age.

You can either join the line at the picturesque Georgian town of Alresford or Alton, a bustling market town. On your journey you can stop at Ropley and Medstead & Four Marks stations and marvel at their preserved history.

The Mid Hants Railway opened in 1865. The railway was once used to transport passengers as well as local Watercress and other produce up to market at Covent Garden and beyond and was a diversionary route for BR when engineering work was undertaken on the south west mainline. The Mid Hants railway is one of the steepest graded lines in the country with a ruling gradient of 1 in 60, pretty steep for a railway. Such is the effort required by man and machine to crest the summit at Medstead & Four Marks, this became known as ‘Going over the Alps’. We have a fleet of large steam engines capable of working heavy trains over the line, a spectacular sight and sound any time of year!

The Mid Hants Railway was closed as part of Beeching’s plan in 1973 but, thanks to the dedication of volunteers, the railway was restored from Alresford to Ropley and re-opened to the public in 1977. In 1983 the line was extended to Medstead & Four Marks station, the highest railway station in Southern England, and continued to Alton in 1985. Today our railway is staffed by a dedicated team of skilled staff and over 450 volunteers whose objective is to preserve part of the country’s railway heritage for generations to come.

Day Out With Thomas: 6th-14th August 2011

Last chance to see Thomas at the Watercress Line in 2011 during the Summer holiday. You can travel all day behind large steam engines such as ‘Henry’. ‘Daisy’ the diesel railcar will also be here; FREE activities, bouncy castle slide and miniature railway, children’s entertainment and of course, rides behind ‘Thomas’, ‘Diesel’ and ‘Toad’.

Day Out With Thomas; Adult £16; Child (2-16) £10; Family £48

Farewell to Standard 5: 10th-11th September 2011

Mid Hants popular BR Standard 5 reaches the end of her 10 year boiler certificate at the end of September 2011. She will then be withdrawn from service.

As a special farewell to this hugely popular locomotive, we will be running a special timetable and service over the weekend 10th & 11th September to mark her departure from steam here at the Watercress Line.

More details soon to follow. Watch this space, it will be anything but a standard weekend!

Fares TBC

Open Day: 24th September 2011

A great opportunity to see how the railway works. Perfect for those looking to join the railway as a member or volunteer. See our website for more information.

Standard Fares apply.

Standard Fares Adult £14; Child (2-16) £7; Family £35

Murder in the Dark: Friday 14th October

It's the 1920's! Join a selected group of guests - Dr Sigfried Black, Mrs Mona Grouse, Rev. Edward Coe, Miss Ruby Red, Colonel Charles Colman, Mrs Blanche Colman and Professor Matt Black, as they enjoy an evening of Parlour games around the drawing room fire.

With the evening in full swing events take a sudden turn for the worst. The lights flicker then fade, a scream is heard, the lights return and someone is dead. But who, how and why?!

The Police don't have a clue, do you?

This is your opportunity to become the Detective and solve a murder whilst enjoying a wonderful meal onboard one of our steam trains.

£75.00 per person (tables must be booked in multiples of 2). Each couple will receive a complimentary bottle of wine with their meal.

Tornado Returns: 22nd and 23rd October 2011

The steam sensation that is Tornado will be back at the Watercress Line. The star of BBC Top Gear and Royal Train fame, don’t miss this chance to ride behind the newest main line steam locomotive built in this country for almost 60 years!

Standard Fares apply

Standard Fares Adult £14; Child (2-16) £7; Family £35

The Autumn Steam Spectacular: 28-30th October 2011

Having already confirmed the attendance of new build Peppercorn A1 No. 60163 Tornado and legendary A4 Pacific No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley for our Autumn Steam Spectacular on the 28-30th October, we can now confirm the inclusion of BR Standard Class 7 No. 70000 Britannia to the illustrious line up! 3 main line registered locomotives for 1 event, we are really going to town on this one!

The 28-30th October will be a Steam Spectacular not to be missed! The 3 guests will join our already impressive home fleet of engines as we look to build on the success of the Great Spring Steam Gala last month.

2011 looks set to be a standout year for visiting engines here at the Watercress Line having had GWR legends City of Truro, Earl of Berkeley and Pitchford Hall already grace our metals. Without a doubt, between Alresford and Alton in Hampshire is the place to be for steam afficionados this year !

More details about the Autumn Steam Spectacular will follow nearer the event including advance issue of our Timetable with loco allocations so you can plan your visit in advance. Don't miss it !

If you would like to take the controls of one of our guest engines, we are offering special footplate experiences. Currently, we have bookings available for Sir Nigel Gresley – please see website for further information.

Gala Fares (includes booking fee); Adult £20; Child £10; Family £50; 3 day Adult Multi pass £40

Sponsored Walk The Line: 5th November 2011

Dust off your walking boots and hit the permanent way. Experience the railway from a different perspective by walking the ‘Watercress Line’ to raise funds for the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society. Not only a great way to keep fit, you will also raise much needed funds to help keep the railway going and contribute to the restoration of locomotives, rolling stock, buildings and infrastructure. Take your time and enjoy this scenic walk. For the more adventurous, why not challenge yourself to climb ‘over the Alps’? From track level, you will get to fully appreciate the gradients our locomotives and footplate crews have to tackle to haul trains along our 10 mile line.

Don’t fret, trains will not be running during the walk!

Santa Specials: 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th 17th-24th December 2011

Board the steam hauled ‘Santa Special’ and meet Santa himself! Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa will give EVERY child a gift in a special souvenir Santa sack. Children will also receive a soft drink and adults a glass of wine and mince pie!

Santa Fares: Adult £15; Child (1-16) £15; Baby £8 Pre-booking essential

Christmas Leave: 26th & 27th December 2011

Civilian and military welcome – Bring your family and friends along to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a Second World War Christmas at the Mid Hants Railway, with civilian and military re-enactors, vehicles and more!

Standard Fares apply

Standard Fares Adult £14; Child (2-16) £7; Family £35

Steam Hauled New Years Eve Dining: 31st December 2011

Why not join us for a steam hauled New Year's Eve dinner and celebration to remember?

Departing from Alresford Station, enjoy a gorgeous dinner on board our dining train whilst travelling along our famous 10 mile line for the evening.

The train will arrive back at Alresford prior to midnight in order for celebratory drinks to be served, with guests and train staff able to alight and enjoy the sights and sounds as 2012 is welcomed in.

Customers must be over the age of 18 to join this train. Tickets must be purchased in multiples of 2 due to the fixed seating arrangements in the coaches. We regret we are unable to accommodate those who are confined to wheelchairs for this train.

Advance bookings only.

£85.00 per person including a complimentary bottle of wine for every couple.

Menu to follow soon. Please contact Reservations at time to booking to notify of any dietary requirements or allergies.

Hampshire Unit ‘Thumper’ running days: 22nd May, 17th July, 31st July, 24th September 2011

The heritage diesel unit that was used on this line to replace steam back in the early 60’s. Now almost as old as some of our steam engines, the Hampshire Unit will perform runs along the railway on these select dates.

Standard Fares apply

Standard Fares Adult £14; Child (2-16) £7; Family £35

Steam hauled demonstration Freight Train running days: 3rd July, 18th September 2011

See our fantastic restored freight train as it works the full length of the line. Goods trains were the backbone of the railways and this type of train can no longer be seen on the national network. An excellent variety of wagons on display, all restored by our volunteer wagon group.

Standard Fares apply.

Standard Fares Adult £14; Child (2-16) £7; Family £35

This is all subject to availability.

Opening Hours and Further Details

  • Weekends January to October
  • Public holidays
  • Half terms and mid-week Tuesday to Thursday from May to September, every day in Easter and August holidays
  • + Additional dates for Special Events

For train times please call our Talking Timetable on 01962 734 866, or check out the website .

Our normal service train ticket allows you the ‘Freedom of the line’ all day, enabling you to stop off at each station and appreciate this magnificent piece of living history.

We have various special events throughout the year such as

  • Day Out With Thomas’ events held at Easter and in August
  • War on the Line (1940s event)
  • Steam Galas
  • Santa trains

and much, much more!

On selected Saturday evenings the Watercress Line runs Real Ale Trains from Alton station and its dining service ‘Watercress Belle’ departs from Alresford. ‘The Countryman Pullman’ offers a Sunday lunch.

In addition, after an extremely successful trial last year we have a number of exciting Murder Mystery Dining Trains scheduled for 2011! Running on select Friday evenings, it's your opportunity to become the Detective and solve a murder whilst enjoying a wonderful meal onboard one of our steam trains. In December we also run special Christmas Dining trains. And this year for the first time we are very pleased to offer Steam hauled New Years Eve dining – more details to follow – please contact us for more information. All catering/Real Ale Train services are immensely popular and require pre-booking.

We also welcome groups, offering generous discounts for groups of 15+ people. Please call us for more information on 01962 733810 or email us.


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Contact Details

Mid Hants Railway Ltd 'Watercress Line'
3 Station Rd
New Alresford
Hampshire SO24 9JG

Tel: 01962 733810
Fax: 01962 735448
Email: info@watercressline.co.uk
Website: Click here to Visit

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