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.
The Bristol Harbour Railway is 40 years old this year!
In 1978 a group of keen and like minded people began operating steam train rides on Bristol’s harbourside. They had one working locomotive and an ex-GW brake van.
Henbury and the TOAD outside M Shed in 1979 (Courtesy John Law)
Since then, the van has given thousands of passengers rides up and down the line. It is essential to the running of the railway, becoming the leading end of the train when being propelled, and the large veranda gives a good field of vision for the guard.
Over the winter of 2017-2018, the van has been taken into the shed and been given a makeover. Rotten wood has been repaired, the whole vehicle has been sanded down and repainted, and it now sports a ‘Bristol’ allocation.
It looks very smart and is a credit to the volunteers and employees at M Shed.
I am trying to find out more information on the history of this brake van before it came to the BHR. If anyone does know of its past life, please do leave a comment below.
THE WORLD’S FIRST TREEHOUSE ON A CRANE COMES TO BRISTOL’S HARBOURSIDE
Over the past three years, we’ve been secretly tending to a rather surprising seed of an idea. Canopy & Stars at Crane 29 – a glorious treehouse suspended high in one of Bristol Harbourside’s iconic cranes! We’ve taken all the goodness of the outdoors and put it into a cosy cocoon of calm in the heart of the city to create a surprising, sensory experience and a true natural high. The best bit? You can actually stay in it!
Although we’ve spent years collating our collection of the most unusual places to stay in the outdoors, this is our first ever treehouse in a crane, and, indeed, the first time you can fully experience a Canopy & Stars holiday in an urban environment. This low-impact build, supported by brilliant solutions from B&Q, is completely carbon neutral and built using sustainable materials. The treehouse will grace Bristol’s skyline for just four months. As the first leaves drop from the trees in late September it will disappear but not before leaving the world a little greener. We’ll be donating all profits from the treehouse to Friends of the Earth.
The Bristol – Then and Now facebook page is well worth following if you have an interest in Bristol’s history. Many interesting bits and pieces to be found, including quite a bit of info and pictures on the harbour, and the railways of Bristol.
Roger Baynton posted these images and description today:
Bathurst Basin, view of bridge, engine house and Ostrich Pub.
The 1870s saw the opening for freight services of the Bristol Harbour Railway which ran from Temple meads under St Mary Redcliffe Church to emerge at Bathurst Basin by the Ostrich pub (seen here) and then on to Wapping Wharf
The railway crossed Bathurst lock on a steam-powered bascule (lifting) bridge on the site of the present footbridge, before continuing to Princes Wharf.
The Ostrich Pub in Guinea Street predates 1775. Sorry to contradict an attractive Bristol urban myth but the chamber at the back of the entrance passage, whilst hewn out of the sandstone cliff does not connect to the adjacent Redcliff caves. An whilst I’m in bah humbug mode, the Redcliff caves were not used for ‘storing’ slaves and probably not for smuggling their principal function being to provide raw material for Bristol’s once buoyant glass trade. But that is another story…..