Dan Wilson

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Dan Wilson
Dan Wilson working as a S&T volunteer in the 1960s. Photo Patricia Layzell Ward.
Born 1934
Died 2005
Official positions held:
FR Soc. Post Late VP FRS
Former Editor FRM
FR People | WHR People

Dan Wilson first encountered the FR at the age of six in 1940 when he saw Princess shunting wagons of slate on the Cob for its repair. In 1948 he walked the whole line, by then derelict, during family holidays at Llanbedr. There is a detailed account of what he and his father saw.[1] Dan read about the Society in 1955 in the Railway Magazine, however he was in the RAF in Singapore at the time. He joined immediately. [2]

Dan was a member of the London Area Group and joined their working parties from 1957. Dan used to stay with Tom Davies and his wife Elizabeth at Bron Madoc.

Professionally he was a telephone and telecommunications engineer, and his skills were seized on by Norman Pearce, who co-opted him to the S&T Department. His interest in telephones from a young age resulted from the stimulation of a gift of old ones by his mother. He worked for the Telephone Manufacturing Company of St Mary Cray, then, due to takeovers, for Pye, Phillips, Telectron and MS Networks. He introduced many new innovations to FR S&T, including the design and production of the remote operators. These were a critical and long-lasting contribution to the safe and economic operation of the railway, though one not widely appreciated.

For many years Dan Wilson and Norman Gurley were joint editors of the Festiniog Railway Magazine:[3] Dan was the lead writer and Norman Gurley the administrative expert. By 1977 they had been joined by Peter Johnson.

Dan was editor of the Festiniog Railway Magazine from Winter issue 1961/2 (No.15 - it is difficult to be sure, but that issue does list him as Executive Editor and appears to have his style stamped on it) to the Spring issue of 1990 (No. 128). That is 121 Editions, 108 editorials, plus later comments and articles.

Dan's prose style was a particular one and led to much enjoyment among many readers of FRM. His turn of phrase caused much joy and his editorials were frequently oblique. It was important to read between the lines; his comic writing has rarely been equalled by FR scribes. A file of his correspondence has been deposited at the Caernarfon Record Office in the FR Archives. They provide an alternative view of happenings on the line for the period covered.

He was also a competent artist. His poster won a New Statesman competition for an advertisement demonstrating social awareness and responsibility in 1971.

After resigning from the editorship of FRM in 1990 in unfortunate circumstances (an editorial had offended someone) he edited the Journal of the WHR, the Snowdon Ranger, from 1993 to 1998. For an account of what lead to his departures see Gordon Rushton's book.[4] In addition to editorials he also wrote many articles, of which his account of the Spooner Family in FRM 077 is an excellent example.[5]

Dan H. Wilson died in the early hours of December 31st 2005, at the age of 71. An article in Ffestiniog Railway Magazine vividly tells of his early involvement with the FR starting in 1940. [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson Dan in Great Railway Eras, Festiniog: The Pioneers' Stories (2007) Davies M and Mitchell V, page 92, Middleton Press, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9AZ.
  2. ^ "Portraits", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 057, page(s): 024
  3. ^ "Obituary", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 192, page(s): 711
  4. ^ Rushton G (2017) I Tried to Run a Little Railway, Managing the Ffestiniog Railway 1991 - 1996, Adlestrop Press,15 Rycroft, Furzton, Milton Keynes, MK4 1AH, UK, p 29 - 33.
  5. ^ Wilson D H "Spooners up to Date", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 77, page(s): 21
  6. ^ "Early Revival Days on the FR", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 192, page(s): 736