Carriage 12

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
This is the third carriage 12 of the preservation era. The first was the Brown Marshalls brake van now numbered Van 5 which is currently carrying the number 12 after restoration to its 1960s appearance. The second was the "Flying Bench" but it never carried that number, and is now allocated the number 11.
Carriage 12
Type 4-wheel porthole ‘bug box’
Seating 14 x 3rd
Home Railway FR
Status In service, Heritage Fleet
Built by FR Co.
Built 2012
Length 12 ft
Frames Steel

Carriage 12 is a replica of a "Porthole bugbox".


Carriage 11 at Portmadoc, 1935

The FR had two of these carriages, known colloquially as "Porthole Bugboxes", on account of the ventilators in the ends, as seen in the photograph left. The photo illustrates Number 11 (identified at bottom of door), the identical Number 12 is the next in the train. Note the different liveries, typical of the time.

The two carriages were created in the late 19th century when the the two fully open carriages, 12 and 13, were enclosed. The bodies were added in place of the original leather aprons and canvas canopy, to make 1st class observation carriages. The side windows were completely glazed with a single pane of glass either side of the central door, which had a glazed droplight. It does not take much imagination to see that the glazing would have acted like a greenhouse in any sort of sunlight. By the time of Wheeler's photo the "portholes" had been glazed (or more likely had fine mesh fitted to stop midges and flies) but originally they had sliding ventilators which were in evidence to the end. There are two different styles of ventilator, and a sample of each exists and are being used to produce replicas.

Some time soon after the Great War the glazing was removed and substituted by the wire mesh and rails, seen in the photo. The small board in the waist panel of the door bears the legend "Observation Car" and was applied when the carriages were first enclosed.

The carriages were originally numbed as 12 and 13 but both had their numbers reduced by 1 in the 1930s to become 11 and 12.

Both survived into the revival era in poor condition. Number 12 (originally 13) was scrapped in the 1950s whilst number 11 (originally 12) was restored to the original fully open condition when the late 19th Century bodywork collapsed during the 1950s whilst the derelict carriage was being moved at Boston Lodge.


Norman Bond and Team X built this replica vehicle incorporating two original doors. It incorporates the last of the metal "underframes" built for Ron Jarvis and is vacuum braked. It currently carries the 1920s style Colonel Stephens livery.

The 2009 revision of the Rule Book allocated the number 12 to the surviving open (known as the Flying Bench) and number 11 to this vehicle, however as of the current (2013) edition this has been revised to call this carriage number 12 and allocate the Flying Bench number 11.

Carriage 12 entered service in September 2012, just in time for the "Classic Ffestiniog" Vintage Weekend.

In 2016, Carriage 12 visited London King's Cross Station along with Carriage 1 and Princess and Liverpool's Albert Dock with Carriage 1 again and Lilla. It also visited the Shrewsbury and the Southport Flower Shows with Carriage 1 and Velinheli from the Launceston Steam Railway.

Carriage 12 under construction, May 2008
Carriage 12 at Tan y Bwlch, 6th October 2012, its first revenue-earning run

See also[edit]