The Watercress Line runs from Alton to Arlesford (a little way north of Winchester).
Originally the line ran from Winchester to London. It acquired its name as the line was used to transfer watercress from local watercress beds around Arlesford up to London.
The area around Arelsford is an important area for growing watercress. [see Hampshire fare]
In 1861, Parliament granted consent for what was then known as the Alton, Arelsford and Winchester Railway. In 1865, the Mid Hants Railway opened. Mid Hants Railway staffed the stations, whilst London & South Western Railway provided the rolling stock and locomotives and operated the trains. The line was closed in 1967. In 1973, the line was partially re-opened, in 1983 extended further, and in 1985 re-opened as far as Alton to join the mainline London service. The Watercress Line is now once again operated by Mid Hants Railway. It is not possible to extend the line down to Winchester as the route is now built upon.
The highlight of the Watercress Line are the steam locomotives.
As well as the two main stations the railway also has two other stations, one at Ropley, where the main locomotive shed and workshops are located, and the other jointly serving the villages of Medstead & Four Marks. The section of line between these two intermediate stations is known as the 'Alps', due its steep gradients.