New Book! 50 YEARS OF RAILWAYS AROUND BRISTOL

Followers of this blog will be interested to know that Paul Stanford, whose photos appear on this website along with those of his father, has published a book all about the railways of Bristol!
Follow this link to purchase the book.

Telling the story of Bristol area railways over the last 50 years, this publication is lavishly illustrated, including many photos taken by rail employees that give a unique insight to railways around Bristol and the surrounding area. Included are well known locations but also railway byways and those serving industrial Avonmouth, now long lost. Also with photographic insights taken at train-care and maintenance depots, industrial plants and within signal boxes in the area; which still exist or have long now disappeared.

The book charts the decline and resurrection of railways around Bristol and its surrounding area, coming right up-to date with latest electrification works, coming from Bristol Area re-signalling in 1970.

Featuring relevant extracts of official rail publications including unique archive material and a unique set of maps over each decade recording the changes to the railways around Bristol to give a unique insight and record of railways around the city and surrounding area where rail was and is key to its success.

About the author: Paul Stanford is a 4th generation railway worker. He started his railway career at Bristol 35 years ago when he was 16. He worked in operations and commercial functions – including working there in the 1980s and 90s. In his formative railway years he worked Avonmouth Area Signal Boxes on his days off; to improve his railway and rule book knowledge. The past 5 years has seen him lead efforts to renew and enhance the railways on the Western Region. He is currently a Programme Director for Network Rail. As a keen cyclist he enjoys the countryside; combining this with an interest in photography; bird-spotting and architecture. He has volunteered in the heritage railway sector since he was 14; notably over 30 years spent on Bristol’s Avon Valley Railway and more recently on the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, a narrow gauge railway, home to a Bristol built steam locomotive named Jurassic. He is married to Fiona and their two sons Oliver and Toby are both at University.

Photo Exhibition – ‘The Floating Harbour: Jem Southam’

Readers of this blog may be interested to know there will be an exhibition of photographs at Underfall Yard as part of Bristol Photo Festival 2021.
The exhibition opens on June 18 2021 and depicts the harbour in decline in the late 1970s, as buildings were being torn down and business was moving away or closing for good.
A fascinating insight into the city’s past before the rejuvenation of recent years.

Read more about the exhibition here.

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.

The BHR in 1978/1979

As the 40th year of the BHR’s operation enters Autumn, here’s a look back to 1978 and 1979.

These photographs were taken by Tim Venton, to whom I am very grateful for allowing them to be reproduced here.

The first two are from May 1978 and show ‘Henbury’ and the TOAD brake van at rest outside the Bristol Industrial Museum.

The second batch of photographs were taken on 16th September 1979. These are fantastic as historical references as they show the extent of track on the quayside and the difference to the present-day.

 

 

Bristol Post – Harbour History

Click here to read an interesting article from the Bristol Post, taking a look at historical scenes from the harbour.

One of the photos includes the bascule bridge over Bathurst Basin, where the line ran towards Bristol Temple Meads.

Well worth a read!

Bathurst Basin bridge (on Bristol Post Website)

TBT – Ashton Gate Station – 1970s/1980s

RMweb user Kevin aka Rivercider has tracked down some photos of the then-closed Ashton Gate Station site, with Ashton Meadows sidings on the BHR in the background.

This one is from flickr user emmdee and shows an 08 shunting the yard.

Ashton Meadows – 1970s

Flickr user Blue_Pelican_railway uploaded this one dated 1977, showing that the warehouse on the right has now had its rail connection severed. Nature is starting to take hold of the platforms.

Ashton Meadows – 1977

Blue_Pelican_railway also uploaded this shot from May 1984 with a Billy Graham train in the foreground, and a BR Class 37 in the yard. The engineers depot was still in use at this time. The growth of surrounding foliage in the intervening years is evident.

Ashton Meadows – 1984

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.