From the 24-27th May 1996, Bristol Harbour was host to the International Festival of the Sea. This was a huge event featuring many guest ships and attractions, and of course the BHR played a part. A shining and fully-lined out ‘Henbury’ and ‘Portbury’ were joined by LB&SCR E1 class 0-6-0T No.B110, then based at the East Somerset Railway (Now being restored to service on the Isle of Wight as No.W2 ‘Yarmouth’). The two locos operated a shuttle service between the station at Ashton Meadows and the Bristol Industrial Museum with 3 loaned coaches.
Thanks to Eric Gates for these photos.
Phil Cass was also there to capture these photos, thanks to Phil for sharing them.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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!
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!
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.