Both locos are back in steam this coming weekend, and last Saturday/Sunday saw the steam crane in operation for the first time this year.
On the 3rd train on Saturday of Platinum Jubilee weekend, ‘Henbury’ blew out a gasket on the main steam pipe to the right hand cylinder. It was taken off the passenger train and sent up the branch to diagnose the issue before heading back to the shed.
‘Portbury’ worked push-pull services for the rest of the day as we waited for the Peckett to cool down enough to work on. This involved clearing out all the ash from the smokebox, then chiselling out the cement from the smokebox floor (which is used to vacuum-seal it and prevent it drawing air through the front end). The pipe was removed and the broken seal extracted so it could be used as a template to make a fresh one. Once this was done, the whole lot was bolted back together and left to seal overnight. Sunday morning a fire was lit and the loco brought back up to 50psi to test for any leaks, this having been satisfactory Chris was able to re-seal the smokebox with quick-drying cement. Henbury rejoined the passenger train that morning which was a very satisfying result for the team. It was my first real experience of locomotive repair and what happens when things go awry, so for me it was an education!
At the same time, the opportunity was taken to take the rear drawhook off and send it to the workshop to have the screw thread mended. The thread had been worn flat on top, preventing the nut from being tightened as much as we wanted it to be. Now it is tight against the bufferbeam.
Bob Edwardes took these pics over the weekend featuring the custom headboards he made for the locos.
Pleased to report that the steam fleet passed their insurance inspections/tests this week ready to operate again. Next week M Shed is doing ‘have a go week’ where you can try your hand at driving a steam loco and an electric crane!
It’s been a week since the first public outing for the working exhibits in over a year, Docks Heritage Weekend. What a blast! So great to have the volunteers working with the public again. Both Portbury and Henbury were on display and the capstan was back in operation both days, and crane 30 was kept busy loading and unloading the lorry. Quayside operations were bolstered with audience interaction from the Show of Strength Theatre company. Thanks for Bob, Bruce and the M Shed social media channels for these photos of the weekend.
The active fleet seen outside the shed today as ‘Portbury’ warms up ahead of DOCKS HERITAGE WEEKEND making a comeback after the pandemic.
Activities at M Shed Trips on electric crane No.31 (charges apply) Trips on the John King tug (charges apply) Cargo handling demonstrations with Crane 30 and the electric capstan Dramatic interludes from Show of Strength Theatre Company exploring characters from the docks’ past, Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 4pm Visit the Fairbairn steam crane Trips to see a stationary steam locomotive (charges apply) – Portbury is rostered for this Visit the Bristol Port Company stand See a Bristol Steam Navigation Company display Events at SS Great Britain Pre-booked free tours of the Albion Dock Brunel Institute will be open (free) between 11am to 3pm on both days for visitors to drop in to meet a curator and see some of the collection objects celebrating Bristol’s docks heritage Victorian street games on Brunel Square on Saturday Shanty Festival performances on Brunel Square on Sunday ‘Mr Brunel’ will be on Brunel Square both days Photography festival ‘Opening Up’ on Brunel Square both days Activities at Underfall Yard Demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing skills Appreciate engineering in miniature with model steam engines and workshops Discover the tools of yesteryear with the Tools and Trades History Society Try your hand at nautical knots Watch the pumps that powered a port running throughout the weekend See our magnificent machinery workshops in action Enjoy songs of the sea performed by several sea shanty groups as part of Bristol Shanty Festival (Sunday only).
Last week, after a few discussions, 2 of our members visited the currently closed Bristol Harbour railway whilst on holiday. This unusual railway is part of the M Shed (Bristol Museums group). Based in L shed as part of the transport division, the L shed team look after all forms of transport items owned by the M Shed. We were greeted by Chris and taken through the transport section (including the first Concorde crew cabin mockup) to the locomotive workshop. Currently stored at the main shed are locomotives “Henbury” (Peckett No.1940 of 1937), “Portbury” (Avonside No.1764 of 1917) and the Coles rail crane (14090). Portbury and the Coles Crane are both operational. “Henbury” is an 0-6-0 Peckett locomotive and has just been rebuilt and testing is on-going. “Portbury” is one of “Cranford”‘s Avonside sisters. Being an early type of the same design but with a curved saddle tank instead of flat sides. Also part of the collection is Fox Walker (No.242 of 1874) completing a collection of locomotives built in Bristol, in Bristol! And finally aRuston Hornsby 165dm “the bug” (418792 of 1959) however these two are stored in a different location. The railway usually operates with a Conflat and BR Bogie Bolster E later rebuilt as a Turbot ballast wagon, both modified to carry passengers, followed up with a toad brake van. And on special occasions, demonstration freights are operated. The railway hopes to reopen this year in September/August however much of the track needs work and reopening may not take place until 2022. We kindly thank Chris Ecclestone, Corwin , and the team at the M Shed for allowing us this private visit and have given a donation to support the railway. If you would like to visit like us, contact the M Shed by email. Alternatively you can wait until the railway reopens, Or you might like to volunteer. If so you again contact the M shed. You can find more information on https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/
To say thank you to M Shed and Bristol Industrial Museum Curator Andy King upon his retirement after 40 years, all the working exhibits at M Shed were fired up for a surprise. Andy took newly-recommissioned steam tug ‘Mayflower’ out for a spin around the docks, while family, friends, past and present colleagues and volunteers were around the harbour to wave and cheer him en-route.
The Harbour Master provided an escort and hooters, horns and bells sounded out from other vessels. When they returned, ‘Pyronaut’ sprang into action for a salute, and Cranes 31 and 32 saluted with synchronised moves and flags that spelled out ANDY and KING. The weather conditions were quite poor but it was nice to be able to say thank you to Andy for all his hard work with the museums and working exhibits.
From the 24-27th May 1996, Bristol Harbour was host to the International Festival of the Sea. This was a huge event featuring many guest ships and attractions, and of course the BHR played a part. A shining and fully-lined out ‘Henbury’ and ‘Portbury’ were joined by LB&SCR E1 class 0-6-0T No.B110, then based at the East Somerset Railway (Now being restored to service on the Isle of Wight as No.W2 ‘Yarmouth’). The two locos operated a shuttle service between the station at Ashton Meadows and the Bristol Industrial Museum with 3 loaned coaches.
Thanks to Eric Gates for these photos.
Phil Cass was also there to capture these photos, thanks to Phil for sharing them.