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Education Visit Information

An Education Visit to the Mid Hants Railway, Watercress Line offers the opportunity for your pupils to investigate and discover the present day life and past history of our Preserved Railway and can be teamed with the experience of travelling through the Hampshire Countryside behind a restored steam locomotive.

Choose your session from our range of topics. All our sessions offer cross curricular links and a choice of activities usually in 2 led session.. 

Our Canadian Pacific Restoration Project team also offers additional activities for CREST Discovery Days and after school activities linked to STEM subjects. Click to find out more about our Canadian Pacific Restoration Project.

We can tailor your chosen Education Session to fit your curriculum or attainment levels. If you have students that require additional resources, differentiation or practical assistance please let us know and we will be happy to adapt your session to make it accessible to your whole group.

There are 3 types of visit to choose from:

  • Railway Experience – Your visit includes an atmospheric return journey along the Watercress Line behind one of our restored heritage locomotives, stopping off at Ropley Station for your picnic lunch. Your Education Sessions will be at either Arlesford or Ropley stations, see the session details.

A Railway Experience, including education sessions is £9 / student; accompanying adults - 1 free / 10 students, others £14. Adult 1/1 staff members/carers are also free.

  • Station Visit - Enjoy an Education Session based solely at one of our stations and available on most days throughout the year. £3.50 / pupil   
    • CREST Discovery Days - A full day visit: £3/ Pupil, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
    • CREST After School Visits - Free sessions - supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • Explorer Journey - You are welcome to plan your own Self Led Visit and enjoy the experience of travelling behind a restored steam locomotive, stopping off at any of our restored stations along the way. Pre booked groups only. Available on any running day. You can use the Restoration route at Ropley to guide a tour and downloadable resources from our web site.
  • An Explorer Journey, including reserved seating is £7 / student; accompanying adults - 1 free / 10 students, others £14.Adult 1/1 staff members/ carers are also free.
  • KS4 and Post 16 - Our working Heritage Railway also offers the opportunity for pupils to explore how the line is kept open today, its role in tourism, the local community and local economics. You can use the line and our restored period station buildings or the Engineering Workshops and Yard at Ropley as inspiration for art and photography projects.

All Education visits should be pre booked to ensure we have seats available for you. Please contact the Education Office to reserve a date. We generally require a £50 deposit. 01962 733810 or education@watercressline.co.uk

Badges and Shop Visits 

No school trip is complete without a little souvenir and you can pre-order pin badges for just 50p each.

Shop visits are available to our Alresford, or Ropley shops.


Your Day with us

Visits with Train travel

Visits with Train travel are available on any mid-week running day May –September. Click here for this year's running day.

  • Arrive by 10.30 ready for your train departure from Alresford station on the 11am.
  • Free coach/ mini bus parking at Alresford station.
  • You return to Alresford at the end of the day.
  • You will be in reserved seating for your railway journeys.

Led visits also include

  • Education Workshops from a choice for your topic, led by Watercress Railway staff. See session page for details.
  • Use of the Education Room at Ropley or the Education Carriage at Alresford
  • All resources provided but we would be grateful if you could bring pencils for your group.

 

The Education Room and Viewing Gallery at Ropley

With its birds-eye view of the Locomotive Workshop, the room offers a unique setting for our education sessions and is the base for your visit. There is no step-free access to the Education Room, so please advise the Education Office if this will impact upon your visit and alternate arrangements will be made. Education sessions are also conducted in our period station buildings.


The Education Carriage at Alresford.

During the summer term we will also have the use of a period railway carriage for education sessions. Situated on the Cattle Dock adjacent to the Station at Alresford this will provide a unique setting for your learning session.

Picnic Areas

The majority of schools spend lunchtime at Ropley, which has two picnic sites, one in the orchard and a second that looks across the railway line toward the Loco Yard; there are picnic tables, an adjacent toilet block and onsite bins.
In the case of poor weather we have plenty of cover for pre booked groups. You may use the station buildings, the Up Waiting room and the Education room for refreshment breaks.

There is also a large picnic area, overlooking the station, at Alresford but limited under cover space.

Bus and Coach Parking

Pre-booked education groups are able to park minibuses and coaches free at Alresford station. In special circumstances parking can be reserved for accompanying cars but standard car parking charges apply, £1.50/day - pay and display. Please specify parking requirements on your booking form.

There is parking available at Ropley for departures / pick-ups booked from that station. Please use the Visitor car Park off Bighton Hill, Post code SO24 9SQ.

Alton station has facilities for drop-off and collection only ( Autumn Term only)

Crossing the Track. 

Alresford, Ropley and Medstead & Four Marks Stations all have food bridges to cross the line. If any of your group require an accessible crossing please speak to the staff on duty who will take you safely across the Foot Crossing.

Alton Station - At Alton access to the Watercress Line platform is via the South Western Railway bridge with lift access.

Toilets

Toilets are available at all stations. Disabled facilities are available at Alresford, Alton and Ropley. Toilets are also available on the train services but please do not use whilst the train is in the station.

On running days there are additional toilets adjacent to the picnic area at Ropley.

Seeing Behind the Scenes

In addition to the view from the Engineering Viewing gallery further behind the scenes insight into our conservation and maintenance can be seen from the viewing gallery in the Carriage Workshop, with step free access from the Kings Cross Bridge. You can also visit the Loco Yard for a close up view of the locomotives. Access is subject to operational constraints.

Full details on the facilities of the Watercress Line are available here.

  • Orchard Picnic Area, Ropley
  • Picnic Area Overlooking the Loco Yard, Ropley
  • Station Staff Making Crossing the Tracks Possible
  • An Education Session in the Loco Yard
  • Waving Goodbye to the Train

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