Henbury Overhaul Update – December 2020

The Coles Crane has already begun to prove useful as this week it was used to get Portbury and Henbury out of the shed, so that the tank and cab could be reunited with the big Peckett. They had been undergoing restoration in the main workshop and were craned into position using one of the museum’s working electric cranes on the dockside.
The repositioning also allowed the two Bristol-built stablemates to be positioned alongside the steam crane for the first time in years.
This operation was done with minimum amount of staff and volunteers in line with coronavirus precautions.

Thanks to Bob Edwardes for the photos.

Coles Crane on the Move

Recently the self-propelled crane was brought out of the shed at Butterfly Junction, where it’s been stranded ever since the slip, and taken on a low loader back to the running shed. It will undergo recertification prior to being used on several relaying projects that are planned.
Thanks to Bill Drewett for these photos.

Video – Mayflower’s Boiler Lift – April 2020

The 1861-built Steam Tug ‘Mayflower’ takes another step in the progress of its overhaul as the boiler is lifted back into the hull. Assisting in the operation is 1917-built Avonside ‘Portbury’ and 1951-built Stothert and Pitt ‘Crane 32’, both working exhibits and still earning their keep at M Shed Museum. Whilst the superstructure was off I took the opportunity to film some shots of the engine room with natural light, a rare occurrence! The lifting operation was undertaken by a minimum number of volunteers due to the COVID-19 situation and working regulations.

Henbury Overhaul Update – November 2020

Henbury’s overhauled rolling chassis has now been reunited with the boiler, allowing re-assembly to continue.
In order to do this, the temporary track was extended out of the workshop, and a commercial crane was employed to turn the frames through 90 degrees and onto the quayside track. Portbury was able to bring the boiler on its trolley down to the quayside, where it was lifted into the frames. It was nearly dark by the time the operation was completed.
Lastly, Portbury took her old stablemate back to the running shed.


Photos courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks.

Before the BHR

Before the Bristol Harbour Railway as we know it today was opened, the locomotives ‘Henbury’ and ‘Portbury’ travelled around a bit, spending some time at Radstock before relocating to Bishop’s Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway.

Whilst looking through the Cornwall Railway Society’s website I found these two photos by Ron Kosys showing the motley collection of industrial locos in 1976.

Click the images to go to the website. The photos are the copyright of Ron Kosys.

Poor Portbury looks in a rough state, Henbury had last been in steam at Radstock in 1973, and would not run again until the opening of the BIM’s line in 1978.

‘Western Pride’ in the East

Ex-PBA Hudswell Clarke D1171 ‘Western Pride’, which formerly worked on the New Cut Branch, has recently (in the past few years) moved to the Whitwell and Reepham Railway in Norfolk where restoration is ongoing.

Thanks to Aaron Browning for the photo of the loco in the shed at Whitwell, starting to look very smart!

D1171 at Whitwell 15/09/20 – Aaron Browning

You can read more about D1171 on its page here.


Mayflower’s Boiler Lift

On Thursday 20th August 2020, steam tug ‘Mayflower’s boiler was lifted back into place. As the museum and working exhibits have been closed during the Coronavirus crisis, it was nice to be able to have them alive again. All volunteers taking part were complying with COVID-19 restrictions throughout. The lift went very smoothly, a credit to all involved. Hopefully this means the 159-year old Mayflower can be in steam again soon!

Cranes stand ready in the morning, the weather held out for us thankfully (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes)
‘Portbury’ was in steam again, seen here shunting the yard to enable the boiler to be brought out of the running shed
Crane 32 was in charge of the lift, its higher capacity of 10 tons being ample for the 8-ton boiler
The first task was to lift off ‘Mayflower’s wheelhouse, exposing the engine room below.
‘Portbury’ brought the boiler down to the quayside
The boiler awaiting fitting of the smokebox
The boiler alongside Crane 32, showing the fresh lagging (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes)
The smokebox (which has been renewed with fresh metal to replace rotten parts) fitted to the boiler.
The boiler is eased into ‘Mayflower’ (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks)
The boiler is eased into its cradle
Lined up successfully with its mounting points
Crane 32 getting ready to detach from the boiler and lift the superstructure back on (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks)
Job done for the day, ‘Portbury’ did some more shunting before heading back to the shed.

BHR in 1991 – Video

Nicholas Tozer published this rather lovely video of a blue ‘Portbury’ operating trains in the early 1990s. It’s amazing to see the differences in the background, like the old sidings, the sleeper wall where the flats near SS GB halt now are. Also note the W.Vincent wagon being used for passengers, these days it is back to being a coal wagon.