SEVERAL homes in a Hampshire village were without water tonight after a steam engine driver tampered with a hydrant.

It is understood the driver stopped to get water for the engine in Little Hayes Lane, Itchen Abbas, near Winchester, at around 7pm but accidentally damaged the hydrant, causing a leak.

Ten homes lost their supply for around 40 minutes while Southern Water engineers raced to the scene and fixed the hydrant.

The utility company has also launched an investigation into the damage.

A Southern Water spokeswoman apologised for the supply interruption but warned people not to interfere with hydrants.

She said: “We responded to reports from people in Itchen Abbas that water was flowing across the carriageway and we understand a steam engine accessed the supply through a hydrant but during that operation the hydrant was damaged and that caused the leak.

“We have been out and repaired it by 8pm and we have launched an investigation because people should not be accessing hydrants without our permission. They should not tamper with the supply.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and we were on the scene as quickly as we could be.”

Police were also called but the engine had left by the time they arrived and a spokesman confirmed they were not taking the matter further.

It is understood the engine was on its way to Old Alresford for the village fair on Saturday.