On Thursday 20th August 2020, steam tug ‘Mayflower’s boiler was lifted back into place. As the museum and working exhibits have been closed during the Coronavirus crisis, it was nice to be able to have them alive again. All volunteers taking part were complying with COVID-19 restrictions throughout. The lift went very smoothly, a credit to all involved. Hopefully this means the 159-year old Mayflower can be in steam again soon!
Nicholas Tozer published this rather lovely video of a blue ‘Portbury’ operating trains in the early 1990s. It’s amazing to see the differences in the background, like the old sidings, the sleeper wall where the flats near SS GB halt now are. Also note the W.Vincent wagon being used for passengers, these days it is back to being a coal wagon.
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.
Good news as Henbury’s boiler has arrived back at M-Shed. I believe this boiler dates from 1955 as it was a new one fitted to ‘Mackenzie’ which had the winged smokebox front typical of earlier Pecketts. In or around 1960, the boiler was fitted to ‘Henbury’ which previously had a straight smokebox front.
Lots of steps still to go through on re-assembly but the boiler is one of the biggest hurdles in any overhaul!
On Saturday March 24th 2018, the Bristol Harbour Railway celebrated 40 years of operation on Bristol’s Harbourside, accompanied by the Lydney Town Band and of course a cake to commemorate the occasion! 101-year old ‘Portbury’ did the honours, pushing and pulling the freshly-refurbished passenger train up and down all day. What started as a group of enthusiasts, one locomotive (Henbury) and a brake van has seen dozens of changes on the harbourside, with the disused industrial area changing into a vibrant tourist hotspot. Long may it continue to bring delight to passengers, giving a unique experience in UK preservation.