HAMPSHIRE residents are being encouraged to come forward with their memories of travelling by steam locomotive.

The Watercress Line is embarking on a quest to uncover and collect people’s memories of travelling by the locomotive steam train in or through Hampshire.

The aim is to create a bank of memories from a diverse group of people relating to Hampshire and areas of London between 1940 and 1965.

The railway is looking for a broad range of stories to paint a picture of what it was like during the last years of steam travel.

Examples could include memories of evacuation or troop movements on the railways during the Second World War, collecting goods from stations, or even going on holiday to the south coast or emigrating through Southampton docks – all using the steam railway. 

Collecting people’s accounts is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Canadian Pacific project. 

The project will also see the return to steam of the Watercress Line’s flagship steam locomotive, no. 35005 Canadian Pacific and two rare wooden bodied carriages.

Alongside this restoration work there will be a wide range of outreach and educational activities that reflect the heritage of railways conveying not only in preservation work but also in the human stories that show how these railways impacted the lives of so many people.

Canadian Pacific project supervisor, Dave Deane said: “The story of the railways is one of massive social change and it is the human stories that bring this to life. 

“With this project, we want to tell these stories whilst we work on creating new one.”

The Mid Hants railway will be collecting accounts via a face to face interview. However, people can write their accounts and email them to: canpac@watercressline.co.uk.

It’s often forgotten that railways were used for all manner of things from moving home to delivering newspapers and were central to people’s lives – very different from the road and rail equivalent today - the Watercress Line’s Canadian Pacific project aims to capture this.

The Watercress Line is running Santa Specials this month and a “Christmas Leave” event on December 26 and 27. 

Visit: watercressline.co.uk for more details.