Leonard Heath Humphrys

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Leonard Heath Humphrys
Official positions held:
FR Soc. Post Founder FRS
Former President LAG
FR People | WHR People

Leonard's interest in the FR was first aroused by David Ballantine, a personal friend. During the Second World War Leonard lived in Wales because his father was works superintendent at the Saunders Roe Shadow Factory in Anglesey. In October 1950 he revisited Wales and after visiting the famous quarries at Penrhyn and Padarn he arrived at Portmadoc - it was raining but he saw suffiicient to realise "here was something worth fighting for". The following day he visited the TR on what he expected to be its last day of operation. He learnt of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation proposals and walked the line.

He wrote in November/December 1950 to those interested in the FR's revival and to the FR Company. He received two sorts of response - "there is no hope of reopening the railway; the Railway Company will not cooperate" but this pessimistic view was not shared by the Railway Company which offered every cooperation!

As a seventeen year old schoolboy he called a meeting at Bristol on 8th September 1951, which led ultimately to the formation of the Festiniog Railway Society. Because of this Bristol Meeting initiative he is generally regarded as the founder of the movement which ultimately led to the revival of the Festiniog Railway.

Prior to this a number of individuals had made tentative enquiries into the possibility of bringing the railway back to life, including James Boyd, Patrick Whitehouse and Bill Broadbent, but the complications of the Festiniog Railway Company's share ownership proved a major obstacle. A meeting called by Portmadoc Urban District Council on 20th April 1951, attended by both James Boyd and Leonard, led to the formation of a committee which failed to make any progress. Leonard therefore started writing to the railway press and also to the then FR Company Chairman Cynon Evan Davies. Receiving some measure of support he called the Bristol Meeting. Among the thirteen who attended that meeting (and were somewhat surprised to discover that Leonard was only seventeen years old!) were Allan Garraway, John Bate, Fred Gilbert, Bill Winter and Vic Mitchell.

A provisional committee was formed called (called the Bath committee - presumably because Leonard lived there (31 Ashton Hill, Corston, Bath)) with Leonard as secretary but he was shortly afterwards called up for National Service. Following his National Service he became Assistant Secretary to the then unincorporated Society and later Secretary and a founder Director of the Festiniog Railway Society Limited. He was an early volunteer and present at the event in 1954 when Robert Evans was presented with a clock. In 1956 Len was appointed editor of the society newsletter, forerunner of the FR Magazine. He was also a founding member of the Society's London Area Group and subsequently its President, an honorary life member and a Vice-President of the Society and a Patron of the Festiniog Railway Company. He was in later years a regular volunteer with Parks and Garden's Department. Leonard died, aged 66, on 22nd December 2000.[1]

Leonard wrote his own account of the early moves to restore the railway,[2][3] and was the subject of two Portraits.[4][5]

  1. ^ "Obituary", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 172, page(s): 149
  2. ^ "Recollections I", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 011, page(s): 013
  3. ^ "Recollections II", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 012, page(s): 010
  4. ^ "Personal Portrait", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 004, page(s): 002
  5. ^ "Personal Portrait", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 091, page(s): 028

See also[edit]