A BEHIND the scenes event will show visitors the workings of popular workshops.

The tours at the Ropley workshops will give an insight into what it takes to restore and maintain steam locomotives, including the Watercress Line's lottery funded flagship Canadian Pacific.

As part of the Heritage Open days - England's largest festival of history and culture which brings together 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers - the event at Watercress Line will let locals in on the secrets of the famous engines.

Areas accessible on the tours will be dependent on the day and the engineering processes taking place but organisers hope to include the light machine shop, wheel drop, main workshop, yard, carriage workshop and boiler shop. Tours will run at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.20pm on September 8.

The Mid-Hants Railway Ltd ‘Watercress Line’ got its famous nickname in the early c20th for its role in transporting the crop to London. It is Hampshire’s only standard gauge heritage railway and runs for ten miles through idyllic countryside along the border of the South Downs National Park, between the market towns of Alton and Alresford.

Opened on October 2 1865 as the Alton, Alresford and Winchester Railway, it became part of British Railways until its hotly contested closure in 1973.

The line and services were quickly reinstated by a dedicated preservation group and today the Watercress Line is one of the South’s premier visitor attractions, attracting 125,000 visitors annually with a turnover in excess of £2m.

The Railway employees 50 staff including a number of trainees/apprentices, but is supported by over 450 dedicated volunteers