Thanks must go to ‘Kebab Eater’ on Flickr for allowing these images to be posted here. He has co-owned this locomotive since 1983. Please visit his flickr page here. No unauthorised use of these photographs is permitted.
PBA 39 was one of a batch of 8 Sentinel locomotives delivered new to Avonmouth Docks in 1965 to replace the ageing fleet there.
According to those that drove the locomotives at Avonmouth, the fleet of Rolls Royce Sentinels were well liked and an improvement over the older fleet.
Each locomotive at the Port of Bristol had a crew of four; driver, fireman, shunter and pointsman. The term “fireman” was a legacy of the days when steam power was in use.
In 1972 there was over 70 miles of track with a fleet 18 locomotives in use. It was run down to 8 Rolls Royce Sentinels before the final closure of the railway system.
With the closure of much of the railway system in the early 1980s, the 8 Sentinel locomotives were placed into store in a shed within the docks complex.
According to Flickr user steaming_chris, 39 and 42 were in better condition than the others at the end.
In September 1983, PBA 39 was uncovered and inspected before being taken for a test drive around the docks. All being as it should, the purchase was completed in October 1983 and the locomotive was taken to the Dean Forest Railway aboard a low loader.
After 15 years on the Dean Forest Railway, PBA 39 was taken to Red Dragon’s workshops at Merthyr Tydfil, for heavy repairs, in 1998.
One year later, the overhaul was completed and the loco taken to the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore, where it was in use until 2010 when it was withdrawn with a broken spring.
It has now been joined at Cranmore by a sister locomotive from Avonmouth, PBA 42. Along with former BSC Panteg No 2 and a chain driven example from Esso, the East Somerset Railway has a good selection of the Shrewsbury builders products.
PBA 39 was taken in for a full overhaul and emerged in 2011, resplendent in its original livery with red and white bufferbeam stripes.