Metrobus and Ashton Avenue Bridge

Metrobus, the guided busway project in Bristol, has now been given financial backing and construction is due to start in 2015.
The busway scheme is set to use sections of the former BHR, joining at Ashton Junction (Going ‘up and over’ the Portishead Railway line on a bridge), then across the old sidings at Ashton Meadows, under the Cumberland bypass, then crossing the New Cut at Ashton Avenue Bridge. From here, it is intended that the buses take the route of the current BHR, joining onto Cumberland Road itself adjacent to the ‘West Yard’ throat.

The Metrobus Website has published the aims for the refurbishment of Ashton Avenue bridge, the deteriorating condition of which was one of the factors in the BHR ceasing operations South of the river in the 1990s.

The full webpage is here, but here are some excerpts:

Ashton Avenue Bridge is on Bristol City Council’s Listed Building At Risk Register.

The register describes the bridge as being in a very bad condition with clear signs of structural instability and says the bridge in its current state is at “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration”.

The MetroBus project will restore the Victorian bridge and return it to its original role as a public transport corridor

English Heritage have been consulted on our plans for the bridge and support the works to conserve it.

Restoring the bridge

Pedestrians and cyclists will still to be able to use the bridge after it has been restored. The restoration works include a lane for the MetroBus and a 3.5 metre pedestrian and cycle path that is wider, smoother and a safer environment than the current path.

Lighting will also be provided on the bridge, making it a much safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge at night. 

The proposed restoration works also include:

– Repair of corrosion damage which would otherwise compromise the long term durability of the bridge.

– Removal of graffiti.

– Removal of vegetation from piers and the bridge deck.

– Removal of temporary repair measures including metal mesh fencing.

– Removal of guardrail separating pedestrian walkway from rail line.

– Replacement of badly corroded deck plates.

– Repairs to trusses to allow drainage modification works which will reduce future corrosion.

Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the morning mist rising off the New Cut, November 2014

Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the morning mist rising off the New Cut, November 2014

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TBT – Henbury Makes History – Coal Trains in 1981

As previously mentioned on this blog, in 1981, the Western Fuel Co.’s diesel shunter Western Pride was in need of an overhaul. This locomotive was used to shunt wagons on the dockside and into the WFC compound, as well as trip workings along the New Cut to Ashton Meadows sidings, from where a BR loco would take the wagons onto the main line.

So it was that Henbury was hired as the first preserved steam loco to pull scheduled goods trains for British Railways (BR having stopped using steam traction in 1968). She crept onto the Western Fuel Co.’s site at 7am on Monday 28th September 1981 and worked for the next three weeks hauling coal trains of up to 450 tons.

This cinefilm was captured by Bob Edwardes and appears here with permission.

Points of particular interest include running on the main line to Bristol Bath Road engine shed to use the turntable (creating quite a contrast to the BR Blue mainline diesels at Bristol Temple Meads!) and double heading with the PBA Rolls-Royce Sentinel No. 41 (10220) that took over duties from Henbury.

 

Portbury is going to Beamish!

As announced on the Beamish Transport Online blog, in early 2015, Portbury is going further North than she has ever gone before. For the first part of the 2015 season, IW&D 34 will be the steam loco in use at Rowley station, part of the Beamish open air museum.

As the loco was built for the war effort in 1917, it is an apt choice of motive power as the museum will be themed around the First World War during February half term.

Very exciting news!

Steam in action at Beamish’s Rowley Station

 

The Engines of Avonmouth

The Avonmouth Docks system utilised a large motive power stud, mainly consisting of locomotives constructed in Bristol by Avonside or Peckett. In 1939, there were some 28 steam locomotives in the fleet.

The steam fleet included (But was not limited to):

S1 ‘Hudson’ (Avonside 1724 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST
S2 ‘William’ (Avonside 1725 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST
S3 ‘Portbury’ (Avonside 1764 of 1917) – 0-6-0ST
S4 ‘Percy’ (Avonside 1800 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST
S5 ‘Brian’ (Avonside 1799 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST
S6 ‘Fyffe’ (Peckett 1721 of 1926) – 0-6-0ST
S7 ‘Ashton’ (Peckett 1878 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST
S8 ‘Westbury’ (Peckett 1877 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST
S9 ‘Henbury’ (Peckett 1940 of 1937) – 0-6-0ST
S10 ‘Hallen’ (Peckett 2035 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S11 ‘Bristol’ (Peckett 2036 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S12 ‘Clifton’ (Peckett 2037 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S13 ‘Redland’ (Peckett 2038 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST

‘Lionel” (Peckett No.466 of 1889) – 0-6-0ST

‘Henry’ (Peckett 1264 of 1913) – 0-6-0ST

‘Strathcona’ (Peckett No. 1243 of 1910) – 0-6-0ST



The ‘S’ prefix was added to the loco numbers by the early 1960s as diesel traction was introduced, as well as the addition of the distinctive red and white striped bufferbeams.

At first a small batch of Hudswell Clarke diesels were purchased, of which D1171 ‘Western Pride’ (Later sold to Western Fuel Co., now preserved) was one. Another, No.23 ‘Merlin’ is preserved at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire, although currently out of use awaiting overhaul.

ex-PBA No.23 'Merlin' (D.2003) on the KWVR (Helena via Wikipedia)

ex-PBA No.23 ‘Merlin’ (D.2003) on the KWVR (Helena via Wikipedia)

In 1965 a fleet of Sentinel shunters came to the port. Finished in smart blue livery, they were direct replacements for the steam locos, which were withdrawn shortly afterward.

The Sentinels worked right up until the closure of the Avonmouth Docks Railway system in 1983.

Sentinel PBA 39 is now preserved on the nearby East Somerset Railway, and has recently been restored to its original PBA livery. Also on the East Somerset Railway is PBA 42, also known as ‘Eric’, which went on to work for La Farge in Westbury, before being preserved in 2007, and is currently awaiting restoration.

PBA 39 on the ESR (T. Dalton)

PBA 39 on the ESR (T. Dalton)

The photographs on this page (Unless otherwise stated) were taken by Jack Faithfull  and purchased from the Rail Correspondance and Travel Society’s website. They appear here for research purposes only and may not be used for profit or gain without permission. 

Helston Railway Collects Rail

Some of the surplus track lifted during the remodelling of both ends of the line was collected by the volunteers at the Helston Railway in Cornwall.

This line is based at Trevarno, and they operate two Ruston diesel shunters very similar to the one based on the BHR.

The below photos appear here reposted from the Helston Railway’s Facebook Page.