This weekend saw the much deferred Railway Ramblers 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Winchester take place. It was hosted by the Southern Area group and spanned 3 days of organised walks and events in addition to the formal meeting.
The AGM weekend is an opportunity for RR members around the country to meet up socially, participate in a number of local walks lead by knowledgeable walk leaders, as well as club business. The entire weekend progressed extremely well and thanks to all those involved.
With the exception of those staying over who had all met up the previous evening with the somewhat raucous Friday night crowd at the local Wetherspoon, the weekend programme started with a picturesque walk along the former Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton line. The walk, lead by Graham Lambert, started at Chesil Tunnel through to Hockley Viaduct. Much of the walk was on or adjacent to the old trackbed. Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat inclement and possibly detracted a little from the delightful views along both sides of the walk and on to the viaduct.
▲ A soggy day walking along the former Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton line, stopping at the mile post
▲ Looking north from the top of the Hockley Viaduct which is approx 2 miles South of Winchester
The AGM took place in the Winchester Club. Details of the meeting are posted elsewhere and included a presentation to long standing member Jeff Vinter – click here. The locals and those staying over in Winchester went on to sample the Winchester fare in a nearby curry house for the evening.
The second day heralded a change in the weather with a lovely sunny Sunday morning. After a short bus ride to the start point to meet up with the walk leader Marcus Heap the group walked part of the former line that linked Winchester and Alton, part of which is now the Watercress Line preserved railway. The walk included a visit to the site of Itchen Abbas station which Marcus had negotiated the owner’s permission to gain access to the old platforms. At least 30% of the walk was over privately-owned sections of line not previously accessible. Lunch was served at the Plough Inn at Itchen Abbas. The remainder of the 10 mile walk largely followed the river Itchen up to the Mid Hants Railway Station at Alresford on the Watercress Line. This gave an opportunity to see the last few steam trains of the day and a chance to see the newly opened exhibition of S&D artefacts For those staying over, the evening concluded at the Wetherspoon –the bar had long shut by the time those of us in the Premier Inn returned to the hotel.
▲ A private club visit by permission of the owners to Itchen Abbas Station (Marcus Heap)
▲ Setting out eastwards on the walk along towards Itchen Abbass
The final day, Monday, was another bright day. In the morning the walk was along the the trackbed of the former DN&S Railway, passing the intact platform at Worthy Down Halt (used by the military in both world wars but expanded in 1942). The walk was excellently led by Chris Witt who provided a wealth of additional information en route. After an impressive lunch at the Vine pub in Winchester, Graham Palmer had organised a visit to Burghclere Station House and Station by kind permission of the owners. The owners also presented a significant amount of information about the station and its history. The number of RR members had somewhat dwindled by the final night in the Wetherspoon.
▲ The disused Worthy Down Station Platform looking North (Chris Parker)
▲ A private visit to the extended Burghclere Station arranged with the owners (Chris Parker)
The next AGM weekend will be held in the North West in May 2022. For anyone thinking of joining RR, this is one example of events run by Railway Ramblers with opportunities to join club led walks, with informative walk leaders and often the opportunity to access areas not open to the general public. Click here to join Railway Ramblers now!