John Routly

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
John Routly
Official positions held:
FR Co. Chairman 1972 - 1993
FR Co. Director 1954 - 1993
FR Trust c.1955 - 1998
FR People | WHR People

Ernest John Routly, 1914 - 2003, served in the Royal Air Force in World War 2. He became acquainted with Alan Pegler through Trevor Bailey. Trevor had been at school with Alan and John had married (or was about to marry) Trevor's sister at the time when Alan was trying to sort out the legal issues surrounding ownership of the FR and its shares. John had a Cambridge Honours Law Degree. [1] As a corporate lawyer (for the Rootes Group, from 1946 to 1960) John was the ideal man to resolve those issues, so he was volunteered! He handled negotiations on behalf of Alan Pegler and his associates both for acquisition of the controlling shares from the Davis family and from British Aluminium Co., and for acquisition from the National Provincial Bank of the debentures securing the overdraft which were, as he said, a millstone round the neck of the former management. Following his success and Pegler's takeover John was invited to join the Company Board and appointed deputy chairman, succeeding Pegler as chairman in 1972.

He used his legal expertise to help the FR, being responsible for most of the key legal agreements. He also took the lead in obtaining grants to help rebuild the railway. He was heavily involved in the battle to obtain compensation from the CEGB (Electricity Authority) after the Tanygrisiau pumped storage power station scheme had severed the original route. This was brought to a successful outcome in 1972.

He stood down as chairman of the Company in 1993 but remained a trustee of the Festiniog Railway Trust until 1998. For one person's view of John Routly see Gordon Rushton's book.[2]

He is credited with coining the phrase "jolly good fun" at a time when the railway's relationship with its staff was somewhat strained. This is still widely in use on the railway and appears on the clock in the erecting shop at Boston Lodge.

Routly followed an active life away from the FR. In addition to pursuing a successful career, he was a commissioner of the Inland Revenue (1955-1979), member of Buckinghamshire County Council (1965-1980), including a period as vice-chairman, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire (1972-1973) and was heavily involved with a number of charities.

One of John's daughters, Angela, is married to Michael Schumann.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Portraits", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 059, page(s): 020
  2. ^ 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 21.