Avonmouth Docks

Please note that I am trying to piece together information from multiple sources for this page so it is very much a work in progress.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who has allowed me to share their images on this page, notably:
Railway Correspondence and Travel Society
Peter Brabham (Flickr)
Rail Photoprints
Transport Treasury
Geoff Plumb

John and Paul Stanford
Paul Townsend
Steve Perryman
Chris Perkins

The Avonmouth Docks system utilised a large motive power stud, mainly consisting of locomotives constructed in Bristol by Avonside or Peckett.

G.H.G. Crump and P.H. Howlett. Locomotives of the Port of Bristol Authority, Avonmouth. 285-6. 2 illustrations
Bristol Corporation took over the docks in 1884 and made extensions. 10% of grain. 30% of banana, 35% of tobacco United Kingdom imports came through Avonmouth. There were 60 miles of track, 29 locomotives and 635 railway vehicles. Bristol was manufactured by Fox, Walker at the Atlas Works, an 0-6-0ST WN 180/1873. This was followed by WN 280/1875 Alexander. Fox Walker was taken over by Peckett & Sons which became the main supplier. Peckett WN 458/1887 was named Harold and this was followed by WN 466/1887 Lionel and WN 586/1894 Lawrence and by Avonside WN 1371/1896 Leslie. Peckett WN 808/1900 Kenneth, Avonside WN 1431/1901 Francis, Peckett WN 1006/1904 Murray, WN 1093/1907 Ronald, WN 1243/1910 Strathcona and WN 1244/1910 Mackenzie latter illustrated (these last were fitted with the vacuum brake to enable passenger stock to be worked). WN 1264/1913 Henry and WN 1377/1914 Edward were like the earlier Peckett engines. Avonside WN 1679/1914 Alfred was similar to the earlier Avonside purchases in dimensions, but modernised. During WW1 five powerful Avonside 0-6-0STs were acquired: WN 1724/1915 Hudson, WN 1725/1915 William, WN 1764/1917 Portbury; WN 1799/1917 Brian and WN 1800/1918 Percy. In 1926 a further Peckett was acquired WN 1721 (presumably of 1915) and named Fyffe and in 1934 WN 1877-8 were bought and named Westbury and Ashton

-From The Locomotive Magazine and Railway Carriage and Wagon Review 
Volume 42 (1936)

‘Bristol’ (Fox, Walker No.180 of 1873) – 0-6-0ST

‘Alexander’ (Fox, Walker No.280 of 1875) – 0-6-0ST

‘Harold’ (Peckett No.458 of 1887)

‘Lionel’ (Peckett No.466 of 1889) – 0-6-0ST

‘Lawrence’ (Peckett No.586 of 1894) – 0-6-0ST

‘Leslie’ (Avonside No.1371 of 1896) – Similar to ‘Alfred’ below

‘Kenneth’ (Peckett No.808 of 1900) – 0-6-0ST

‘Francis’ (Avonside No.1431/1901) – Similar to ‘Alfred’ below

‘Murray’ (Peckett No.1006/1904)

‘Ronald’ (Peckett No.1093/1907)

Strathcona’ (Peckett No. No.1243 of 1910) – 0-6-0ST – Similar to ‘Henry’ and ‘Edward’ but with higher boiler pitch.

The book referenced in the photo of Strathcona is available to purchase here.

‘Mackenzie’ (Peckett No.1244 of 1910) – 0-6-0ST – Identical to ‘Strathcona’. Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

‘Mackenzie’ (Peckett 1244/1910) pulling oil tankers (undated – courtesy of The Transport Library, please do not reproduce)

It is believed that ‘Mackenzie’ was given a new boiler in 1955, but in 1960 was dismantled and the boiler fitted to ‘Henbury’.

‘Henry’ (Peckett No.1264 of 1913) – 0-6-0ST

‘Edward’ (Peckett No.1377 of 1914) – 0-6-0ST

‘Alfred’ (Avonside No.1679 of 1914) – 0-6-0ST

S1 ‘Hudson’ (Avonside No.1724 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST

S2 ‘William’ (Avonside No.1725 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST

Withdrawn in April 1962 and scrapped.

S3 ‘Portbury’ (Avonside No.1764 of 1917) – 0-6-0ST

S4 ‘Percy’ (Avonside No.1800 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST

S5 ‘Brian’ (Avonside No.1799 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST

S6 ‘Fyffe’ (Peckett No.1721 of 1926) – 0-6-0ST

S7 ‘Ashton’ (Peckett No.1878 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST

S8 ‘Westbury’ (Peckett No.1877 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST

S9 ‘Henbury’ (Peckett No.1940 of 1937) – 0-6-0ST

‘Henbury’ is believed to have been fitted with ‘Mackenzie’s boiler in 1960, at the same time gaining the distinctive curved smokebox front similar to ‘Ashton’. It seems that the cab and tank fronts were lined out at the same time.

S10 ‘Hallen’ (Peckett No.2035 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

S11 ‘Bristol’ (Peckett No.2036 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

S12 ‘Clifton’ (Peckett No.2037 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

S13 ‘Redland’ (Peckett No.2038 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

YouTube channel Unseen Steam posted this video of a railtour visit to Avonmouth in 1963.

On 21st July 1963 the RCTS ran what has been described as a “chaotic” railtour (not their fault) from Paddington to the Bristol area behind ‘Grange” class no. 6841 “Marlas Grange” which got the train to the Docks almost bang on time after a good run down the GWR main line to Swindon and then the connection to the Docks at Hallen Marsh Junction. In the Docks the train was worked by one of the Port of Bristol Authority’s tank locomotives, no S11 “Bristol”. All went well until the train was due to leave the Docks which took place around half an hour late. Further troubles ensued, with the train returning to London some one and a half hours late – many passengers had detrained at Stroud to try and find a quicker train home! (Information from http://www.sixbellsjunction.co.uk, with thanks to Gary Thornton)

The ‘S’ prefix was added to the loco numbers in the early 1960s as diesel traction was introduced, as well as the addition of the distinctive red and white striped bufferbeams.

At first a small batch of Hudswell Clarke diesels were purchased.

The Hudswell Clarke diesels included:

D3001 ‘Tintagel’ (works No.D754 built in 1952) 0-6-0DM

Sold to Guest Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd. Tremorfa Works, Cardiff October 1966. Retained its name, but the running number became 378. Sold for scrap to Birds (Swansea) Ltd. Cardiff 1972. The name was then transferred onto 0-6-0DE Yorkshire Engine 2633 of 1957.

No.17 ‘Camelot’ (works No.D755 built in 1952) 0-6-0DM

Works No.D756 built in 1952 0-6-0DM

Works No.D757 built in 1952 0-6-0DM

D2001 ‘Norman’ (works No.D774 built in 1948) 0-4-0DM

D2002/No.22 ‘Arthur’ (works No.D760 built in 1949) 0-6-0DM

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

D2003/No.23 ‘Merlin’ (works No.D761 built in 1951) 0-6-0DM

Vacuum fitted to work passenger trains.

Sold in 1971 to R. O. Hodgson Ltd. of the English China Clay Group where it was used at their general warehouse at Carnforth, Lancashire. In 1985 it was sold to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire, initially as source of spares for another loco, but has since been preserved in its own right, although currently out of use awaiting overhaul.

D2004 ‘Lancelot’ – (works No.D851 built in 1952) 0-6-0DM

D1001 ‘Gordano’ – (works No.D894 built in 1953) 0-4-0DM

D2005/No.25 ‘Celidon’ (works No.D915 built in 1956) 0-6-0DM – Sold in 1973, worked for a brief period in Romford, then exported to Belgium. Worked at the George et Cie. plant near Charleroi, where it was spotted out of use in 1999. Believed to have been scrapped in 2001. This locomotive, some of its class-mates, and other second-hand locomotives (including ex-BR class 03s) passed through the hands of a dealer/hirer in Maldegem.

Thanks to Eddie Barnes for the information and photographs of this loco in Belgium.

D2006/No.26 ‘Dubglas’ (works No.D916 built in 1956) 0-6-0DM

D2007 ‘Tribruit’ (works No.D917 built in 1956) 0-6-0DM

Sold to Howard Doris of Plockton, Kyle of Lochalsh, in 1969. Seen in that company’s yard alongside ‘Guinnion’ on 26th July 1981.

D2008 ‘Guinnion’ (works No.D918 built in 1953) 0-6-0DM

Sold to Howard Doris of Plockton, Kyle of Lochalsh, in 1969. Seen in that company’s yard alongside ‘Tribruit’ on 26th July 1981.

D2009 ‘Agned’ (works No.D919 built in 1956) 0-6-0DM

No. 30 (works No.D1171 built in 1959) 0-6-0DM – Sold to Western Fuel Co. where it was named ‘Western Pride’ and worked on the Wapping Wharf line. Now preserved and undergoing restoration in, firstly at Long Marston in Warwickshire, now at the Whitwell and Reepham Railway in Norfolk.
See all blog posts about this loco here.

No.31 (works No.D1172 built in 1958) 0-6-0DM – later sold to Strood Coal Concentration Depot from where it was withdrawn and scrapped some time after 1984.

No.32 (works No.D1192 built in 1959) 0-6-0DM

No.33 (works No.D1193 built in 1959) 0-6-0DM

In 1965 a fleet of 8 Sentinel shunters came to the port. Finished in smart blue livery, they were direct replacements for the steam locos, which were withdrawn shortly afterward.

The sentinels included:

PBA 34

PBA 35

PBA 37

PBA 38 (works No.10217) – sold to Tunnel Cement before the closure of the Avonmouth railway system.

PBA 39 – now preserved on the nearby East Somerset Railway, and has recently been restored to its original PBA livery.

More information is available on the ESR’s website, from where the following information has been reproduced:

Also at Cranmore is the privately owned 10218 ‘PBA 39’, sister of Port of Bristol Sentinel PBA 42.  It was built in May 1965 and overall approximately 90 of these 0-6-0SR class LBS were built.  This locomotive is currently in working order and was restored in 2011 to its original Oxford Blue livery, yellow and black lining, with red and white buffer beams (PBA 42 is due to be restored to the later style, with yellow and black chevron buffer beams and skirts).  It was one of the last operational locomotives at Avonmouth Docks, going from there into preservation at the Dean Forest Railway in 1984, before coming to Cranmore in 1999.

PBA 40

PBA 42 – also known as ‘Eric’, which went on to work for La Farge in Westbury, before being preserved in 2007, and is currently awaiting restoration on the East Somerset Railway.

More information is available on the ESR’s website, from where the following information has been reproduced:

PBA 42 was new to the Port of Bristol Authority’s Avonmouth docks in July 1965 (works No.10221) and was the last of a fleet of 8 Sentinel locomotives (PBA 34-42).  Rail traffic ceased in 1983 and the locomotive was sold through Sparrows Equipment Sales in 1985, eventually ending up at the Rover Plant in Longbridge, after an overhaul including fitting with train air brakes.  In 1999, 10221 moved to Blue Circle Cement’s Westbury works, later gaining an unusual livery and the name ‘Eric’ as a result of a competition to design it by local primary school children.  In 2005 the locomotive suffered a severe electrical fire, burning out all the wiring and damaging the control desk and air control system.  The other resident locomotive at Westbury had a transmission failure about this time too, so 10221’s unit was robbed to replace it.  The air brake donkey engine compressor was also taken off for the other locomotive and 10221 was dumped at the end of the sidings for many months.  A visit was arranged, just out of curiosity to see what condition it was in and luckily Lafarge Cement (successors to Blue Circle) offered to donate the locomotive.  Although in bit of a sorry state, it definitely had potential and the group were very happy to accept it.  Lafarge Cement up in Dunbar very kindly donated a large quantity of spares from scrap locomotives and from their stores, which contains most of what will be needed for 10221’s eventual restoration and to keep the two Chain Drive locos working too.  The restoration on 10221 will begin once 10199 is completed.

10221 has the 8 cylinder 311hp engine, twin disc transmission and RF11 final drive (with the drive to the centre axle) and weighs in at 48 tons.  The second four of the PBA locomotives unusually have rubber suspension, PBA 42 being one of these.

Adrian Foster adds:
RR 10221 ex Port of Bristol Authority was purchased by Thomas Hill Ltd. in June 1985. Later that month it went on hire to Tolworth Coal Depot, Surrey, commencing 20th June, 1985. My photographs from that date show it leaving the Thomas Hill Works at Kilnhurst and not long after on the A630 between Conisbrough and Rotherham.

The Sentinels worked right up until the closure of the Avonmouth Docks Railway system in 1983.

The photographs on this page (Unless otherwise stated) were purchased from the Rail Correspondence and Travel Society’s website and John Chalcraft and contributors to RailPhotoPrints.uk

They appear here for research purposes only and may not be used for profit or gain without permission. 

Many thanks to http://www.leedsengine.info/ for information on the Hudswell Clarke diesels.

Thanks must also go to Eddie Barnes for information and photographs of ex-PBA locos sold to other companies.