Docks Heritage Weekend 2021

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.

Docks Heritage Weekend is back – 9th & 10th October

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).

See you there!




https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/whats-on/docks-heritage-weekend/

John King’s Wheelhouse Lift

Back at the start of the month, Crane 30 was used to lift off the wheelhouse to Bristol tug ‘John King’ so it can have some tender loving care.

Thanks to Bob Edwardes for these photos!
Bob says “Whilst up the crane I also had a cracking view of the recently restored Thames sailing barge (S.B. Gladys) making her way from Gloucester back to London via Bristol Harbour.”

Andy King

With great sadness I report that Andy King, curator of Bristol Industrial Museum and M Shed, passed away this week. The jibs of cranes 31 and 32 have been lowered and crossed in honour of Andy’s work.
Andy joined Bristol Museum’s curatorial team 40 years ago. Part of the group tasked with getting ‘Mayflower’ back into working order, he went on to become the driving force behind many of the working exhibits and ensuring that they continue to entertain and educate thousands of people for years to come.
He will be greatly missed by all the volunteers and staff.

AFRPS visit to the BHR

A recent visit to M Shed and the BHR (under supervision and within Covid restrictions) by members of the Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society. Thanks to Andrew and Chris for taking the time to visit and do the write-up!

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/

Cranes ready for paint

The four electric cranes have been moved down to the Prince Street end of the quayside in readiness for painting. This should help protect them for years to come, as you can imagine painting something of this size is no easy task!

These 2 photos courtesy Bob Edwardes

In order for this to happen, the M Shed station platform had to be moved down to the far end of the quay, near the cafe. Here it is midway through reassembly (while the cranes were being moved).

Video – Mayflower’s Boiler Lift – April 2020

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.

Mayflower’s Boiler Lift

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!

Cranes stand ready in the morning, the weather held out for us thankfully (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes)
‘Portbury’ was in steam again, seen here shunting the yard to enable the boiler to be brought out of the running shed
Crane 32 was in charge of the lift, its higher capacity of 10 tons being ample for the 8-ton boiler
The first task was to lift off ‘Mayflower’s wheelhouse, exposing the engine room below.
‘Portbury’ brought the boiler down to the quayside
The boiler awaiting fitting of the smokebox
The boiler alongside Crane 32, showing the fresh lagging (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes)
The smokebox (which has been renewed with fresh metal to replace rotten parts) fitted to the boiler.
The boiler is eased into ‘Mayflower’ (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks)
The boiler is eased into its cradle
Lined up successfully with its mounting points
Crane 32 getting ready to detach from the boiler and lift the superstructure back on (photo courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks)
Job done for the day, ‘Portbury’ did some more shunting before heading back to the shed.