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.
Henbury’s overhauled rolling chassis has now been reunited with the boiler, allowing re-assembly to continue.
In order to do this, the temporary track was extended out of the workshop, and a commercial crane was employed to turn the frames through 90 degrees and onto the quayside track. Portbury was able to bring the boiler on its trolley down to the quayside, where it was lifted into the frames. It was nearly dark by the time the operation was completed.
Lastly, Portbury took her old stablemate back to the running shed.
Photos courtesy Bob Edwardes, with thanks.
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.
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.
Pictured here a few years ago:
The ‘Toad’ brake van is receiving some attention this winter. The rather tired door is being renewed, and the van has been jacked up, the springs removed, and packing wood in place.
Pictured here is the former harbour plug, used from 1804-1935 when it was replaced by one made of rubber. The harbour needed to be drained fully to allow the plug to be removed, restricting navigation for 2 days.*
*This is not true, just a joke!
The Avonmouth Docks system utilised a large motive power stud, mainly consisting of locomotives constructed in Bristol by Avonside or Peckett. In 1939, there were some 28 steam locomotives in the fleet.
The steam fleet included (But was not limited to):
S1 ‘Hudson’ (Avonside 1724 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST
S2 ‘William’ (Avonside 1725 of 1915) – 0-6-0ST
S3 ‘Portbury’ (Avonside 1764 of 1917) – 0-6-0ST
S4 ‘Percy’ (Avonside 1800 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST
S5 ‘Brian’ (Avonside 1799 of 1918) – 0-6-0ST
S6 ‘Fyffe’ (Peckett 1721 of 1926) – 0-6-0ST
S7 ‘Ashton’ (Peckett 1878 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST
S8 ‘Westbury’ (Peckett 1877 of 1934) – 0-6-0ST
S9 ‘Henbury’ (Peckett 1940 of 1937) – 0-6-0ST
S10 ‘Hallen’ (Peckett 2035 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S11 ‘Bristol’ (Peckett 2036 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S12 ‘Clifton’ (Peckett 2037 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
S13 ‘Redland’ (Peckett 2038 of 1943) – 0-6-0ST
‘Lionel” (Peckett No.466 of 1889) – 0-6-0ST
‘Henry’ (Peckett 1264 of 1913) – 0-6-0ST
‘Strathcona’ (Peckett No. 1243 of 1910) – 0-6-0ST
The ‘S’ prefix was added to the loco numbers by 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, of which D1171 ‘Western Pride’ (Later sold to Western Fuel Co., now preserved) was one. Another, No.23 ‘Merlin’ is preserved at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire, although currently out of use awaiting overhaul.
In 1965 a fleet of 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 worked right up until the closure of the Avonmouth Docks Railway system in 1983.
Sentinel PBA 39 is now preserved on the nearby East Somerset Railway, and has recently been restored to its original PBA livery. Also on the East Somerset Railway is 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.
The photographs on this page (Unless otherwise stated) were taken by Jack Faithfull and purchased from the Rail Correspondance and Travel Society’s website. They appear here for research purposes only and may not be used for profit or gain without permission.
Following up from the story of Portbury in Preservation, here are a few highlights from Henbury’s career after being withdrawn from Avonmouth shed in the 1960s.
Henbury was rebuilt with the 5 year old boiler from a sister engine, and in after a spell in store, in 1972 she was located at Radstock engine shed with No.242 and Portbury.
She was put to work hauling brake van specials from Radstock Station to Writhlington – a distance of approximately 1.5 miles.
At this time she wore a partly lined out green livery (lining on the cabside and front of the saddletank only), lighter than the shade she had when withdrawn, with red buffer beams.
As mentioned before, the Radstock operation finished in 1975 and Henbury was homeless for a short while, until in 1978, the Bristol Industrial Museum opened.
Henbury was present at the opening ceremony of the museum, and was immediately put to work pulling passenger trains on the quayside.
At this time, coal trains from the main line would regularly travel down to Whapping Wharf sidings, either trip worked a BR loco, or thereafter by the Western Fuel Company’s Hudswell Clark shunter.
It was in 1981 that the diesel loco required repairs, the Western Fuel Co. turned to the nearby museum for assistance, and Henbury was pressed into service to keep coal coming in to Bristol, thereby becoming the first preserved steam loco to haul scheduled goods trains for British Rail.
Repainted with a yellow bunker, running plate and WESTERN FUEL CO. lettering on the tank sides, she pulled full wagons from Ashton Meadows to Whapping Wharf, and empties back, for two weeks.
The above photographs are copyright John Chalcraft and can be purchased from Railphotoprints
The above photos are copyright flickr user Emmdee
Above photos are copyright Robert Tarling
Henbury has hauled thousands of passengers over the years. In the 1990s her livery was altered again, the lining more closely resembles that which she wore at Avonmouth, but extending over the saddle tank as well as the cab.
Here she is pulling BR Mk1 carriages at the Festival of the Sea in 1996, before the main line link was severed.
Rob Skuse on the M Shed working exhibits page compiled a little selection of Henbury’s exploits over the past 10 years. These pictures are all copyright Rob Skuse.
In July 2014, she was withdrawn once more, and will be dismantled to allow her boiler to be inspected.
‘Western Pride’ was a former Port of Bristol Authority loco, and from the 1970s to 1987, it took loaded coal wagons from Ashton Meadows to Wapping Wharf sidings and the Coal Depot (Western Fuels) there, and returned empty wagons to the sidings.
As loaded coal wagons left overnight had a tendency to get vandalised, there was a secure storage compound at the coal depot, where the loco and wagons were stored overnight.
Western Fuels ex PBA 0-6-0 D1171 standing at Wapping Wharf, July 1979 (Courtesy Kevin Redwood)
D.1171 made her last trip along the BHR in May 1987, on an overnight move to the coal depot at Filton. She has since been sold into preservation, and after a period in store outside at MOD Long Marston (As seen in this picture by Cliff Jones Photography), restoration has begun, as seen here (March 2013):
Image is property of Mike Cottam and appears here as a direct link to his flickr page
Avonside No. 1764 ‘Portbury’ was built in 1917 for the war effort, destined to work at the Portbury shipyards. The end of the war in 1918 meant the shipyard never actually built a vessel.
She eventually moved into the fleet of shunters based in Avonmouth and worked there until replaced by diesels.
Here are a few photos from across the internet of her life in preservation.
In the early 1970s, all three of the BHR’s steam locomotives were to be found at Radstock station in Somerset. This was part of a preservation effort to save and operate a section of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.
Here she is outside the shed, looking rather forlorn.
and another pic inside the shed next to 7F 53808
Unfortunately, the project at Radstock was unsuccessful and the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust relocated to Washford on the West Somerset Railway.
‘Henbury’, ‘Portbury’ and No. 242 found their way to the Bristol Harbour Railway, opened in 1978.
‘Portbury’s restoration was completed in Bristol and she was in brought into operation on the BHR.
Here she is in lined blue livery back in 1992.
After another overhaul, she emerged in 2001 in a livery akin to the one she first wore, the initials ‘I W & D’ stand for ‘Inland Waterways and Docks’.
Now, in 2013, this livery has been adapted to more accurately represent her 1917 condition – note the lack of nameplate (She was not named ‘Portbury’ until her time at Avonmouth Docks) and the black wheels.