IT was full steam ahead for the Watercress Line as news came that they planned to restore the line a further seven miles to Alton.

Steam enthusiasts celebrated the 115th anniversary of the opening of the line on October 4, 1980, as the exciting revelation was delivered.

Thousands flocked to Alresford and Ropley to travel on the trains, admire the locomotives and to see the progress made on restoring coaches and steam giants.

Also on show was the only operating steam-powered crane in the country, the new £35,000 engine shed and the West Country class loco “Swanage” which was in the middle of a four-year rebuilding programme.

There were also rides on a 100-year-old bus pulled by shire horses. Comedian Leslie Crowther travelled on the horse-drawn bus and on a steam lorry.

With the co-operation of British Rail, which closed the line between Winchester and Alton in 1973, track work was altered at Alton which gave the Mid-Hants Railway access to the station.