Eileen Clayton 1934-2019
A leading figure in volunteer support for the railway's infrastructure, Eileen Clayton was appointed a Member of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2006 for services to the Ffestiniog Railway, North Wales.
Eileen came to the Festiniog when she joined the teaching staff at Plas Tan y bwlch[external 1] and soon incorporated the railway into her courses - The Line That Refused to Die & Slates to the Sea are two titles that stick in the mind. Rides on the line were an integral part of these, as were those that involved photographing both trains and the landscape.
In due course Eileen became a volunteer at Boston Lodge, eventually graduating to double engine fireman - Merddin being the favourite steed! She also married Neil Clayton, a former Dee & Mersey Group volunteer and they moved to live close to the line. Until he took early retirement in early 2006 Neil was a senior engineering manager at the Dinorwig power station.
One April 1st during the era when the Buffet Cars were named, one was renamed after Eileen for the day!
During the mid-1980s Eileen inherited the Parks & Gardens operation, started by Pat MacGregor at the request of David Pollock and began to turn it into a vehicle to enable volunteers of all ages to be involved with the FR. Getting young people involved has always been a particular feature of Eileen organised working parties. It was a short, and almost inevitable, step from improving gardens to improving and maintaining the railway's buildings - and so B,P & G was born and 'detattification' entered the FR lexicon.
There followed projects to refurbish Penrhyn Station, laying a proper platform surface and making the Hostel fit for modern use and a long running battle against the problems caused by the poor construction of Glanypwll crossing house.
When it was decided by Society and Company to construct a new volunteer hostel at Minffordd it was Eileen's department that took the job on, making extensive use of volunteer labour, of all ages.
Developing skills and introducing young people to the FR have been central themes of the annual Kids Weeks that Eileen has run for some fifteen years at the beginning of the school summer holidays. While the hostel was being built Kids contributed a great deal and at other times the availability of large numbers of volunteers has enabled large tasks to be completed swiftly. Former Kids are now prominent in most departments of the FR and many return time and time again, both to volunteer and to maintain contact with the strong social circles that they have established while on the FR.