June 2022 Update

Both locos are back in steam this coming weekend, and last Saturday/Sunday saw the steam crane in operation for the first time this year.

Chris and Mike coaling up the steam crane (Bill Drewett)

On the 3rd train on Saturday of Platinum Jubilee weekend, ‘Henbury’ blew out a gasket on the main steam pipe to the right hand cylinder. It was taken off the passenger train and sent up the branch to diagnose the issue before heading back to the shed.

‘Portbury’ worked push-pull services for the rest of the day as we waited for the Peckett to cool down enough to work on.
This involved clearing out all the ash from the smokebox, then chiselling out the cement from the smokebox floor (which is used to vacuum-seal it and prevent it drawing air through the front end).
The pipe was removed and the broken seal extracted so it could be used as a template to make a fresh one.
Once this was done, the whole lot was bolted back together and left to seal overnight.
Sunday morning a fire was lit and the loco brought back up to 50psi to test for any leaks, this having been satisfactory Chris was able to re-seal the smokebox with quick-drying cement.
Henbury rejoined the passenger train that morning which was a very satisfying result for the team.
It was my first real experience of locomotive repair and what happens when things go awry, so for me it was an education!

At the same time, the opportunity was taken to take the rear drawhook off and send it to the workshop to have the screw thread mended. The thread had been worn flat on top, preventing the nut from being tightened as much as we wanted it to be. Now it is tight against the bufferbeam.

Bob Edwardes took these pics over the weekend featuring the custom headboards he made for the locos.

Have Your Say on the Western Harbour Redevelopment – Last Chance!

The Western Harbour / Harbour Hopes project encompasses the redevelopment of land around the Cumberland Basin, including the Bonded Warehouses and the Western end of the Railway itself. The consultation for this closes this Friday (April 22nd).
If you feel that it is important to retain the Bristol Harbour Railway’s planned station and Western terminus, you can let the planners know here:

CLICK HERE for the link to the HARBOUR HOPES consultation.

Personally I feel it would be excellent to have the UK’s only standard gauge city-centre steam railway linking two of the most exciting urban regeneration areas (Western Harbour and Wapping Wharf), providing a genuine transport link on running days as well as serving as both an educational and entertainment amenity with a ‘living history’ link to Bristol’s heritage.

In the consultation, question 6 allows you to submit your own comments. If anyone is interested, these are my hopes for the Harbour:
“As a local resident, the key thing that means a great deal to me is the integration of the Bristol Harbour Railway into the Western Harbour development.
The BHR has not been able to use the station on this site for several years (due to Metrobus construction and river wall repairs) but is soon to make a return.
I feel that the opportunity for the UK’s only standard gauge city-centre steam railway to directly connect two of the most exciting urban regeneration projects (Western Harbour and Wapping Wharf) is not to be missed.
The railway is operated by volunteers who take great pride in their work and there is a real community spirit to the operation which can be built upon.
On operating days it can provide a genuine transport link whilst at the same time a link to Bristol’s industrial heritage, entertaining and educating at the same time.
It would be a great shame to lose this opportunity if the railway line were to be built upon. I believe the railway management should be brought on-board in advising how the integration could work.”

Easter Running and Photos from 1950s Weekend

The BHR is running steam trains this Easter on Sat/Sun/Mon, all being well both Portbury and Henbury should be out.

Here is a little photo album from the 1950s weekend, where we got the working exhibits out again to demonstrate activity and cargo handling on the quayside. The M Shed exhibits and volunteers were joined by vehicles from The Shopland Collection and ‘Mr. and Mrs. Purnell’ from The Show of Strength Theatre Company.
Thanks to Chloe Little and Bob Edwardes for these photos.

150 Years of the Bristol Harbour Railway

At 11:15 today the railway marked 150 years of operation. Portbury was out with the Lord Mayor and a brass band in attendance at the same spot as 11th March 1872.
Here’s to the next 150 years!
On the M Shed website you can read an excellent article about the birth of the BHR.
Bob Edwardes was there to capture the photo of the 2022 ceremony in the same spot as the 1872 engraving – apparently it rained that day too!

Photo courtesy Rob Skuse

Steam Test Success

Photo courtesy Rowena Farr

Pleased to report that the steam fleet passed their insurance inspections/tests this week ready to operate again.
Next week M Shed is doing ‘have a go week’ where you can try your hand at driving a steam loco and an electric crane!

More details:
https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/whats-on/train-and-crane-driving-experiences/

Farewell to 66045

In December 2021 we said goodbye to ex-PBA, ex-LMS open wagon No.66045. After years spent looking rather forlorn in the yard it is going to a new home at the Talyllyn Railway in Tywyn. It is due to be restored and placed in the re-laid standard gauge siding at Wharf station to demonstrate how slate was once transferred from the 2’3″ gauge stock to the rest of the network.

Crane 32 undertook the lift with ease thanks to its 10 ton rating. Thanks to Bob Edwardes for the photos.

Pannier on Princes Wharf c.1952

With thanks to a member of the Avon Valley Railway group who passed on this photo via Bob Edwardes.
Believed to have been taken by Rex Coffin in around 1952 (judging by the fact that Crane 32 looks brand new) it shows 5700 class pannier tank No. 7790 at the head of a train of loaded conflats on the quayside line.
The loco is still in faded G W R livery and has a GW shunters’ truck attached to the front.
On the extreme right of the photo it looks as though a road wagon is parked across what is now the main running line.
In the background to the left can be seen the crane whose pedestal still stands at the edge of Lloyds Amphitheatre.