ONE of Hampshire’s biggest attractions has launched a £100,000 appeal to fund urgent repairs.

The Watercress Line, which runs heritage steam engines from Alresford to Alton, needs the cash to prevent Boyneswood Bridge from potentially collapsing.

Flaws in the brickwork were reported at Christmas and a subsequent survey revealed the bridge at Four Marks, near Alresford, would pose a serious safety risk if left unchecked.

The appeal by Mid Hants Railway, which operates the line, said: “The repairs will be carried out immediately to prevent serious deterioration, with the consequent risk to safety and the threat to running of trains beyond Medstead and Four Marks.

“Obviously, it is unthinkable that we do not run through to Alton but the railway does not have £100,000 lying around, and so we are making an appeal to all members to, yet again, dig deep into pockets to support our railway at this time.”

East Hampshire District ward member Pat Seward said it would be a shame to see the Watercress Line stop at Four Marks.

Councillor Seward said: “I know the bridge needs repair but I didn’t know about the appeal. The Watercress Line is a good tourist attraction and it brings people in from miles around. It would be a pity if the line couldn’t carry on to Alton. I wish them well in their appeal but there are other issues in the village that are far more important, like keeping the village pub.”

It comes as the iconic footbridge at King’s Cross station used in the Harry Potter films was added to the line earlier this year.

The Grade 1 listed structure was dismantled and removed from the London station as part of major refurbishment in 2008, and has been reopened as a vantage point at Ropley Station.

To donate, send cheques, made payable to the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society, to Mid Hants Railway, The Railway Station, Alresford, SO24 9JG, marking the envelope with “bridge”.