Bug Boxes

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

The Small Birminghams, commonly known as Bug Boxes, are the small four-wheeled carriages built by Brown, Marshall & Co of Birmingham, which are the earliest passenger carrying vehicles on the Festiniog Railway, dating from 1864-7.

In old Company times, they were known as "Small Birminghams" to distinguish them from the bogie carriages built by the same company. The term "Bug Box" is thought to have been given to them c.1955 by LNER driver Bill Hoole as it was a term used for ancient four and six wheelers on the North Eastern Railway. An alternative recollection is that the name "Little Bastards" was given them by Fred Boughey when working overnight getting them into traffic in the emergency in 1958 to form the "Flying Flea" but that Allan Garraway adapted this nick name to the politer term Bug Boxes.[1] The main square internal frames are thought to be original as well as the door handles. They share - with the original Talyllyn carriages of 1865-66 - the distinction of being the oldest railway carriages still in regular use in the world.

Bug Boxes at Harbour Station, 7th August 1966. With what was then New Van 1 and Carriage 8.


  1. ^ Dobson J & Javis PP (2021) Facebook post in "Friends of F&WHR" FB page on 21/3/2021.

Fleet table[edit]

Key: In service Stored Scrapped Renumbered or repurposed Preserved elsewhere Under construction
Number Year built Class Current facilities Former facilities Service status Notes
1 (1864) 1863/4 Bug Box Open Third Built as first class, converted to open third circa 1880s Scrapped 1929
1 1994-7 Bug Box Open Third In service "Zoo Car" - Replica incorporating parts from carriage 2
2 1863/4 Bug Box First Open third 1880s to 1990s In service Numbered 6 from 1950s to 1990s
3 1863/4 Bug Box Third In service
4 1863/4 Bug Box Third In service
5 1863/4 Bug Box Third In service
6 1863/4 Bug Box Third Scrapped 1931
11 1863/4 Bug Box Fully Open Third Fully Open First 1860s to C.1880s, First Observation C.1880s to C.1920s, Open Third C.1920s to 1950s In service "The Flying Bench" - Originally numbered 12, 11 around 1930s, 7 from 1950s to 1990s
12 2012 Bug Box Open Third In service "Porthole Bug Box" - Replica incorporating some original parts from carriage 11
13 1863/4 Bug Box Open Third Fully Open Third 1860s to C.1880s, First Observation C.1880s to C.1920s Scrapped 1958 Numbered 12 from 1930s

See also[edit]