This book takes a return trip to the Mid Hants Railway, commonly known as “The
Watercress Line”, to see what has changed since Matt Allen’s original book on the line was
published by Halsgrove in 2007.
There is no better sight than a superbly restored steam
locomotive in action and the Mid Hants Railway is one of the best heritage railways in the
UK to see this happen, with its steep gradients ensuring the locomotives have to work hard.
The Mid Hants is one of the many railways that fell foul of the Beeching review and was
closed by British Railways in 1973. However a determined band of volunteers who were
keen not to see this line fade from history set about preserving and rebuilding it to its
The line was partially re-opened from Alresford to Ropley in 1977, extending
to Medstead in 1983, and in 1985 Alton followed, finally connecting the railway back with
the mainline. It is now, one of the UK’s premier heritage railways and one of Hampshire’s
biggest tourist attractions.
Matt Allen has used his local knowledge of the railway to showcase over 150 spectacular
photographs which capture the essence of what the railway is all about. The line
continues to develop and evolve, which means for the photographer and the returning
visitor there is always something new to see.
Throughout this book you will see the locomotives that haul the passengers along the 10
mile journey; the people who give up their time to make it all happen; the sympathetically restored
stations and even the author’s 1964 Triumph 3TA motorbike being used a scenic prop!
Matt Allen has been interested in railways for as long as he can remember. His father was a fireman
in the steam days and latterly a driver for British Rail, so an interest in railways may appear to be in
Matt’s first job was in a camera shop and was one that he greatly enjoyed; so it seemed inevitable
these interests would someday collide. However, his interest in railway photography wasn’t ignited
until the new “digital photography” revolution. It provided what he had always craved for, instant
results from the camera.
He is a regular contributor to the railway media, organises railway photography events and has also
written other books in this series including his first book on the Mid Hants Railway, to which this title
is the successor. Every autumn also sees the launch of his annual ‘Steam Railway Calendar’ showcasing
his best pictures from the year. Most weekends will find him photographing steam trains
somewhere, covering many miles all over the country in the process. Holidays tend to revolve around
strategic locations for heritage railways, so if you are sitting on a steam train and see someone standing
in the middle of a field pointing a camera, it might just be Matt!
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 285 9, hardback, 214x230mm, 144 pages. Published June 2016.