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.

GWR 1338 at the BHR (2000)

On 8th July 2000, visiting loco No.1338, built by Kitson for the Cardiff Railway and later absorbed into the GWR, was used in a photo charter down the New Cut branch. This locomotive is now based at Didcot on static display.

1338 rounds the corner at Butterfly Junction (image courtesy Pete Doel, with thanks)

Youtube channel ‘Classic Traction’ published a slideshow of the event.

Sherman Tank Lift (2006)

In 2006, Bristol Industrial Museum was host to a 1940s event. One of the highlights saw Fairbairn Steam Crane, built in the 1870s, lift up a restored Sherman M4A4 tank and place it on a goods train. The immense strength of the Fairbairn design is evident, and the crane is still in operation to this day as part of M Shed.

TBT – GWR 813 in Bristol

Another Throwback Thursday to 29th July 2001, when GWR 813 was visiting Bristol. This locomotive has just celebrated its centenary, having been built in June 1901.

You can learn more about GWR 813 and if you like, contribute to the upkeep of this lovely locomotive at http://www.gwr813.org/

Credit for these photos goes to K R Bayley, with huge thanks to Nick Baxter for sending them to me.

TBT – GWR 813 at Ashton Meadows

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Throw Back Thursday posts, but with summer just around the corner, there are more to come!

This is a photo from a charter in 2001, during the last days of Ashton Meadows sidings (note the overgrown bushes). The loco is GWR 813, a unique survivor built in 1901 for the Port Talbot Railway in Wales. The 813 fund have given permission for this photo to be reproduced here.

To find out more about GWR 813 or help fund the group’s restoration projects, click here.

(Courtesy GWR 813 Fund)

(Courtesy GWR 813 Fund)

TBT – Portbury takes on Foxfield Bank, 2008

At the Foxfield Railway’s 2008 gala, Portbury paid a visit and was given the chance to attack the famous 1-in-19 to 1-in-26 Foxfield Bank, the climb away from Foxfield Colliery itself.

Youtube user ‘Pennysteam’ was there to capture the event (If you like railway videos, be sure to subscribe to pennysteam as their footage is spectacular)

Part 1:

Part 2, Portbury ascends the gradient again at around 5.20:

TBT – Portbury to Portbury – 2001

Way back in 2001, the previously-mothballed rail link to Portbury had been renovated and was due for re-opening. The opportunity was taken to run a special 3-coach train hauled by the museum’s own loco ‘Portbury’ from Parson Street Station (Where the Portishead branch leaves the Great Western Main Line) to the new terminal at Portbury dock.
A full write-up of this historic event written by Paul Stanford can be read on the Avon Valley Railway’s website here:
http://semaphore.avonvalleyrailway.org/html/avonside.html

Here are two videos on YouTube documenting the event, one taken from the leading carriage of the special train.

M Shed pre-rebuild, an aerial view

Google maps’ view of the area around M Shed is now outdated, but does give an interesting insight into how the landscape around the railway has and continues to evolve. I cobbled together a few images to give a bigger picture.
You can see how M and L shed were formerly much more separate, with rail access to the workshops in L shed behind.
Also visible are the old reclamation yards to the South, now a building site for Umberslade’s housing project.
The end of the loop where the temporary ‘barn’ was constructed is to the West side of the picture.

m-shed-pre-2008