Exploring the Mid Hants Railway
20 July 2018
Above is a section of the 2018OS map showing the current route of the Mid Hants Railway also known as the Watercress Line from Alesford to Alton. The Mid Hants Railway started life in October 1865 as the Alton, Alresford & Winchester Railway and was intended to fill the gap between Alton and the main route from London to Southampton 2½ miles north of Winchester. It was some 17 miles long through an agricultural area with only Alresford as a town of any size on the route.
The line initially survived the Beeching cuts but was eventually closed in February of 1973. Unlike the Tongham – Ashgreen line the Watercress Line was saved by a volunteer staff and opened as a heritage railway.
There is a stark difference between the two sections of line which at one time were connected via Farnham and Bentley. The Tongham – Ash Green line has been dismanteled and in parts completely built over in other parts the line is now a foot path used by dog walkers an the like, in contrast the Mid Hants Railway is alive and like a time capsule that takes us back to the days of steam.
The following are a set of enlarged sections of the above OS map showing in more detail the route of the Watercress Line: