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.
Work on Henbury’s 10 year overhaul is progressing well.
The boiler has now been lifted from the frames (courtesy of Crane 32 with shunting assistance from Portbury). The boiler has been placed on a trolley and taken back to the engine shed, while the frames were lifted and turned 90 degrees, then placed on a temporarily-laid piece of track so they could be pushed into the workshop. The cab and other items are also inside.
During certain running days, visitors to M Shed can see work taking place and even make a donation to the overhaul. There are photographs of the boiler lift on display to show the process.
The above sequence shows the lift.
Above: The boiler, cab, frames and tank all separated out.
Meanwhile, Portbury is running the scheduled services. This weekend is the last operating weekend of the season, with trains running from M Shed and alternating down the branch to Vauxhall Bridge and the quayside line to SS Great Britain.
Here are a few shots of Portbury at work last weekend.
This shot from Vauxhall Bridge shows that the majority of the fencing between Cumberland Road and the railway line has been removed. This is to be replaced and strengthened to prevent a metrobus going through the fence in the event of a collision.
Down at Sugar Quay/Whapping Wharf, the first phase of the new housing is nearly completed. This features a walkway that connect Gaol Ferry Bridge to Museum Square.
The small open passenger wagon, based on a ‘Conflat’, is currently outside the workshop for some maintenance.
The advantage of basing this vehicle on a container wagon is that the whole passenger ‘tub’ can be lifted off, making access easier. Another flat wagon has been brought up to accommodate the tub. It’s handy having huge cranes about the place!
‘Teddy’ and ‘Judy’ are working again this weekend – Teddy is glimpsed here shunting on the quayside earlier today.
Steve Cockram took these great photos of the Harbour Festival weekend which not only show the attractions on show, but also showcase a lot of M Shed’s Bristol-built displays. He’s kindly given permission to reproduce the photos here, you can also check out his facebook page for more!