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Times Up

Time is running out in the search for the most talented young writers and photographers in the Alton area.  Entries to two youth competitions organised by Alton Rotary must be in by December 20th.

The theme this year is 'Rebuilding', which can be interpreted in many ways.  There are three age categories for entrants - up to 10, 11-13 and 14-17 years old.

Full information packs can be downloaded from - search on 'What We Do'. For further information contact local organiser Alan Falder on or

Last year a local winner, Toby Bayliss, went on to win the regional competition with a picture of Chawton Church. Alan said, "There's every opportunity for local talent to be recognised at a national level in these competitions."

Chawton Church

Deadline - October 2023

Steaming On...

The past and future of the Watercress Line were under the spotlight when the Line’s education and outreach co-ordinator, Dan Ball, spoke to members recently.

He said that the heritage railway is heavily dependent on volunteers to maintain its services, with 400 volunteers working as platform staff, maintaining station gardens and buildings and operating signalling, supporting the line’s 40 full-time staff. Dan is involved in organising school and youth visits to the railway’s premises, as well as a programme of community outreach talks.

Canadian Pacific at Ropley

The railway was originally developed to ensure that the watercress crops grown in the Alresford area could reach markets in London within a few hours, something that was vital for such a perishable crop. Building the line in the nineteenth century was a major challenge given the gradients involved – Medstead station is the highest railway station in Southern England.  Four hundred men were involved in the construction, and the railway’s first chairman was Edward Knight, a nephew of Jane Austen.  

The line opened as a heritage steam railway in 1977, having been closed by British Railways in 1973.  The line has now been operating as a heritage railway for longer than it was operated by British Railways. As well as its regular services, the line is often used as a location for film and television productions and has featured in Midsomer Murders and Call the Midwife.

Like other steam heritage railways, the Watercress Line faces major challenges relating to climate change and the phasing out of fossil fuels in coming years.  One trip on the line requires 400 shovelfuls of coal, which has tripled in cost in recent years and must now be imported from South America.  One possibility in the future is that steam heritage railways such as the Watercress Line will have to convert to using electricity as the major energy source, with steam generation as an ornamental adjunct.

Lisa, Dan and Alan

Dan Ball with Alton Rotarian Alan and President Lisa

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An update regarding the ongoing project in Tanzania by our friends at The Mud House Children’s Foundation.

Tom with two girl students

Teabag stands for The Education and Book Appeal for Ghana, which provides equipment, books, and educational facilities to three villages in Ghana


50% contribution towards the cost of a new dishwasher at their Kingsley Bordon Centre. The funds had been raised by Rotary over the Christmas period by various public collections and the Yuletide Festival .

Info pack

The Information Pack is now available

Info pack cover

The Information Pack is now available


Featuring a family short walk at 5.30 pm, followed by a twilight yomp starting at 7.30 pm, finishing in the dark at close to 10.00 pm


Each year since 2002 we have been providing scholarships to students at Alton College

The Dopplex ABIity machine

To celebrate 70 years of the NHS we purchased a Dopplex ABIlity machine for use at the Alton Community Hospital.