To say thank you to M Shed and Bristol Industrial Museum Curator Andy King upon his retirement after 40 years, all the working exhibits at M Shed were fired up for a surprise. Andy took newly-recommissioned steam tug ‘Mayflower’ out for a spin around the docks, while family, friends, past and present colleagues and volunteers were around the harbour to wave and cheer him en-route.
The Harbour Master provided an escort and hooters, horns and bells sounded out from other vessels. When they returned, ‘Pyronaut’ sprang into action for a salute, and Cranes 31 and 32 saluted with synchronised moves and flags that spelled out ANDY and KING. The weather conditions were quite poor but it was nice to be able to say thank you to Andy for all his hard work with the museums and working exhibits.
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!
Exciting times at the BHR! Following on from the Sulphuric Acid tanker, the team are wasting no time and have also completed a cosmetic restoration of flat wagon number 31568, an ex-PBA tank wagon chassis.
Pictured here in company with the MOGO and the tank wagon.
ex-PBA tank wagon chassis in use as a flat wagon
The flat wagon is currently carrying a component of the next one to undergo refurbishment, the cover for ex-GWR ‘Starfish’ ballast wagon, built 1936 at Swindon.
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.