A Pannier in the Port – 1996

Back in 1996, ex-GWR pannier tank 1369 (Now based at the South Devon Railway) paid a visit to Bristol Harbour.
The Weymouth Docks shunter, last survivor of the 1366 class, was reminiscent of panniers formerly used on the harbour lines.

Here are a collection of photos from the visit. All photographs are copyright of their respective owners, a huge thank you goes out for allowing them to be reproduced here.

1369 on the shed road while ‘Henbury’ stands by.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12a_kingmoor_klickr/5809563945/
Copyright Gordon Edgar

Performing a runpast with the goods.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dorneyphoto/10691844086/in/photostream/
Copyright Ian Silvester ( http://www.dorneyphoto.com/ )

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8523292@N03/4081645814/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8523292@N03/4081645892/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8523292@N03/11090871735/in/photostream/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8523292@N03/4080884331/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8523292@N03/11090975914/in/photostream/
Above images are all Copyright Geoff Hartland

The charter featured Ashton Avenue Swing Bridge, still available for use at the time. The area behind the loco is the current site of Butterfly Junction Halt. In 1996 there was a run-around loop in place at Ashton Meadows.
The swing bridge’s deteriorating condition meant that it was taken out of use in the late 1990s, and the track on the South side of the New Cut was lifted to make way for new housing (The houses do not occupy the permanent way, but the trackbed was used for site offices and vehicle parking during construction).

Bristol Metrobus – Revised Plans

The Government has approved Bristol’s rapid transit Metrobus scheme, as reported by the BBC here:

Previously, the plans called for the railway line along the New Cut to be rebuilt into a combined busway and railway. This route has now been amended so that buses will use Cumberland Road, and will not run along the harbourside.
The current plans envisage a remodelling of the railway near the Create Centre to accommodate the busway as it crosses a rebuilt Ashton Avenue Bridge. The plans have the busway utilise the current railway alignment in order to join Cumberland Road on the level, with the railway being re-aligned.

Details of the plans (Including the amended route) are available on the Metrobus website:

Here is a plan of the proposed works. Please note that the revised route for the BHR is not shown, as it is yet to be decided.


Portbury in Preservation

Avonside No. 1764 ‘Portbury’ was built in 1917 for the war effort, destined to work at the Portbury shipyards. The end of the war in 1918 meant the shipyard never actually built a vessel.
She eventually moved into the fleet of shunters based in Avonmouth and worked there until replaced by diesels.

Here are a few photos from across the internet of her life in preservation.

In the early 1970s, all three of the BHR’s steam locomotives were to be found at Radstock station in Somerset. This was part of a preservation effort to save and operate a section of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Here she is outside the shed, looking rather forlorn.
Source: http://www.geoffspages.co.uk/raildiary/radstock.htm

and another pic inside the shed next to 7F 53808

Portbury sharing space in Radstock Shed

Portbury sharing space in Radstock Shed

Unfortunately, the project at Radstock was unsuccessful and the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust relocated to Washford on the West Somerset Railway.
‘Henbury’, ‘Portbury’ and No. 242 found their way to the Bristol Harbour Railway, opened in 1978.

‘Portbury’s restoration was completed in Bristol and she was in brought into operation on the BHR.
Here she is in lined blue livery back in 1992.


Original source:

and in operation in 1996

Source: http://bit.ly/1erjN1L

After another overhaul, she emerged in 2001 in a livery akin to the one she first wore, the initials ‘I W & D’ stand for ‘Inland Waterways and Docks’.


Source: http://www.bristoljpg.co.uk/2004/portbury.jpg

Now, in 2013, this livery has been adapted to more accurately represent her 1917 condition – note the lack of nameplate (She was not named ‘Portbury’ until her time at Avonmouth Docks) and the black wheels.

Aerial Photos – Bristol Harbour History

Flickr user brizzle born and bred documents all aspects of Bristol life throughout the years, including the development of the docks area and the BHR.

Here are some insights into how the docks looked from the air.

Cumberland Basin in 1946 – the Second World War is over, Ashton Swing Bridge is still combined road and rail, and the building of the dual carriageway is a long way off. The northern branch of the BHR to Canons Marsh branches away to the left of ‘A’ Bond and through Hotwells, with Canons Marsh shed (Now @Bristol) at the top of the picture.
To the right of this is the site of ‘M’ and ‘L’ sheds, replacing the Corporation Granary building, which was struck by a bomb in 1941 and demolished. The site has been cleared but construction not yet started.

Cumberland Basin 1946

9 years later, in 1955, this is the view from Redcliffe looking toward Hotwells. ‘M’ and ‘L’ sheds are now built, and the line to Temple Meads is visible crossing Bathurst Wharf.
This view also shows the open nature of the back of the sheds at ground level – the area where the locomotive shed is now.

Wapping Wharf 1955

A closer view of M/L Sheds in the 1960s shows the development of the coal yard, which later became the reason for the BHR’s continued survival.
Note also the large crane where the M Shed cafe now resides!

M Shed 1960s

This 1955 view of the Gasworks is particularly interesting. Of the gasworks buildings, only a few remain, as evidenced by the following picture taken in 2007!
Look to the bottom of the 1955 photo – you can see the sidings on the site of SS Great Britain Halt, with the small rail-mounted cranes on the dockside. The rails for these cranes are still in evidence today.
The 2007 image also shows the former Bristol Industrial Museum (Now M Shed), with the coal yard now used as a car park.

Gasworks 1955
Docks 2007

All credit goes to Paul Townsend/Brizzle Born and Bred – have a look at his flickr page for more photographs.

End of Season – 2013

Today was the last day of operation for the M Shed working exhibits. ‘Portbury’, the steam tug ‘Mayflower’, and the steam crane were all in service.

Portbury was given a clean before collecting the passenger train.



I spent the morning on the train – mostly trying to keep seats dry in between showers!



The afternoon was spent dismantling the fence and gateway across the shed road, this is where the new access road is going to go. The point nearest the camera (To the now defunct line around the back of M Shed) is coming out and being replaced with plain rail and concrete sleepers.


This cake was the best thing I’ve seen this year, made by Emily.



At the end of the day, ‘Portbury’ pulled the goods rake out from the long siding and coupled the NE brake van to the passenger train…








..before heading back to the shed.



Services begin again in Easter, but there’s a lot of work to do in between now and then, so keep checking back for updates!