Going back to their roots on the Meon line

MEN OF THE MEON VALLEY'                        LEFT TO RIGHT. (F) IS FOR ONE OF THE FORMER MEN WHO WORKED THE LINE WHEN YOUNG FIREMEN.'''Steve West - Pat Kinsella (F)- Lou Wooldridge(F) - John Sankey - Bob Hind - Geoff Burch(F) - John Hartfree(F) - Alan Akehurst (Fireman on the last booked passenger service in 1955) - Tony Williams (station owner) - Alan Hughes (F) - Brian Sessions (F)''''''''At the end of steam working on the Southern in 1967 all the  former firemen, by then passed for driving, worked  electric and diesels until retirement. PPP-140107-143134001
MEN OF THE MEON VALLEY' LEFT TO RIGHT. (F) IS FOR ONE OF THE FORMER MEN WHO WORKED THE LINE WHEN YOUNG FIREMEN.'''Steve West - Pat Kinsella (F)- Lou Wooldridge(F) - John Sankey - Bob Hind - Geoff Burch(F) - John Hartfree(F) - Alan Akehurst (Fireman on the last booked passenger service in 1955) - Tony Williams (station owner) - Alan Hughes (F) - Brian Sessions (F)''''''''At the end of steam working on the Southern in 1967 all the former firemen, by then passed for driving, worked electric and diesels until retirement. PPP-140107-143134001
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All but three of the station buildings on the former Meon Valley Line have been demolished. They are Tisted, Privett and Droxford.

The former station at Droxford is now owned by London businessman Tony Williams and his wife Jo.

The gardens and grounds of Droxford station. The signal box was rebuilt from original drawings.                                                                                                                             Picture: Steve West.

The gardens and grounds of Droxford station. The signal box was rebuilt from original drawings. Picture: Steve West.

Although never a railwayman, Tony has a great interest in the running and, especially, the workings around what is now his home.

The 2.5-acre site has been landscaped to a professional standard and he also rebuilt the signal box on the original site.

It is now used as guest accommodation.

I asked Mr Williams if he would like to meet some of the men, young fireman then, who worked on the line and he arranged a visit to his home for many of the former train drivers, who worked the line before closure in 1955.

It was a chance for them to visit their old stamping grounds.

They arrived at midday last Saturday and had a tour around the station and its gardens.

All the platforms are still in situ with the beautiful gardens alongside. The former goods’ yard is now a vegetable plot.

Over many cups of tea on the platform, old stories were told to Tony of which he never seemed to tire.

Four of the men, now in their eighties – Lou Wooldridge, John Hartfree, Alan Akehurst and Brian Sessions – worked the route when it was still open to passenger traffic. The remaining three firemen worked the line when still open to goods traffic into the early 1960s.

All agreed it was a superb day out and some hope to return next Saturday or Sunday when the station and grounds are open to the public under the National Gardens Scheme.

All in aid of charity, visiting is on Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13 from 11am to 5pm.

There is plenty of parking along Station Road right outside the entrance.