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.
The Coles Crane has already begun to prove useful as this week it was used to get Portbury and Henbury out of the shed, so that the tank and cab could be reunited with the big Peckett. They had been undergoing restoration in the main workshop and were craned into position using one of the museum’s working electric cranes on the dockside. The repositioning also allowed the two Bristol-built stablemates to be positioned alongside the steam crane for the first time in years. This operation was done with minimum amount of staff and volunteers in line with coronavirus precautions.
The 1861-built Steam Tug ‘Mayflower’ takes another step in the progress of its overhaul as the boiler is lifted back into the hull. Assisting in the operation is 1917-built Avonside ‘Portbury’ and 1951-built Stothert and Pitt ‘Crane 32’, both working exhibits and still earning their keep at M Shed Museum. Whilst the superstructure was off I took the opportunity to film some shots of the engine room with natural light, a rare occurrence! The lifting operation was undertaken by a minimum number of volunteers due to the COVID-19 situation and working regulations.
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.
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.