Bristol Harbour Railway turns 150 years old

Bristol Harbour Railway turns 150 years old

Today (11 March) marks the 150th anniversary of the Bristol Harbour Railway at M Shed.

11 March 2022

Bristol Harbour Railway was formally opened on 11 March 1872 by Lady Mayoress, Mrs Elizabeth Hare and was used to transport goods arriving by ship including coal, esparto grass, wood and meat, as well as alcoholic beverages such as sherry and Guinness.

A great deal of goods traffic was moved on the railway throughout its working life including vital war supplies during both world wars.

The railway began at Temple Meads before proceeding through a tunnel under St Mary Redcliffe churchyard, over a steam-powered lifting bridge outside the Ostrich pub on Bathurst Basin and onto Princes Wharf.

Later it was extended onto Wapping Wharf to where the SS Great Britain is docked today.

Ray Barnett, Head of Collections and Archives at M Shed said: “After a century as a goods railway, Bristol Harbour Railway was handed over to the museum and has run as a heritage railway ever since. It’s an important part of the city’s history and has become a staple attraction on the harbourside.

The staff at M Shed, along with a vital team of dedicated volunteers, work tirelessly to keep the railway running and care for the two steam locomotives, Henbury and Portbury.

Trips on the railway were suspended during the pandemic so it’s particularly rewarding to mark this anniversary and invite visitors back to ride the railway again soon.”

Train rides will resume at M Shed from the Easter holidays. A full list of dates will be available at from April.

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