Michael Seymour

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14th June 1931 - 28th February 1999

Michael Seymour was the FR's first Archivist and the first chairman of the FR Heritage Group.

Michael first visited the FR during 1951 by trespassing behind Boston Lodge while volunteering on the Talyllyn and he followed when Allan Garraway transferred his allegiance northwards.

He was an early volunteer with the traffic department, being Guard on the very first (Simplex-operated) public passenger train of the preservation era on 23 July 1955. He found his hope of being a steam engine driver frustrated by lack of opportunity in the early days of the FR revival and he became interested in the fascinating hoard of archives that littered the Harbour Station offices of the old Company. Michael's descriptions of rooms in an apparent time warp, filled with papers dating back to the mid 19th century, were very evocative even forty years later. For a young man with a well developed sense of history, they were an absolute magnet. In order to clear space for the railway's reopening the papers had to be moved and it was largely due to Michael that they were not simply consigned to a bonfire. He collected what he could and on 27th March 1957 was appointed the official Archivist by Allan Garraway. He also set up the earliest Museum displays. He regretted that commercial pressures for space led to the shrinking of the early museum displays he created - due to the demand for catering space. However he would see the irony in the fact that he might take the credit for starting the catering department by going off, after the first day's trains, to buy a crate of R.M. Jones's assorted mineral water for sale the following day! Later he also became Chairman of the FRHG (founded by David Ronald) on its formation in 1984 until 1996 when he retired and assumed the position of Honorary President of the Group.

Michael satisfied his locomotive ambitions from the 1960s by firing and driving many locomotives of varying gauges at Bressingham Steam Museum. These include Royal Scot, the Duchess of Sutherland and Oliver Cromwell.

Also a talented graphic artist, his artwork featured on company publicity, share certificates,[1] stamps of the Railway Letter Service and headboards.

Michael was at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University from 1949 - 52 and took his MA in 1956 after National Service as an education officer in the RAF. He returned to Cambridge to take his Certificate of Education and from 1956-60 taught French and German at Exeter School. From 1960 he taught at the Perse School, Cambridge and was Head of Modern Languages until taking early retirement in 1984 to care for an ageing father.

Michael wanted to see a replica of The Boat, a whimsical gravity inspection vehicle used by the Spooner family in the 19th century. When Michael died, he left money to build a replica. The body was started by a boatbuilder away from the Railway and, by Vintage Weekend, 2005, made its first appearance on the line. He also left money to ensure publication of The Spooner Album. [2][3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Great Stock Issue - The Design Story, Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 119, page(s): 018
  2. ^ Personal Portrait, Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 097, page(s): 039
  3. ^ Obituary, Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 165, page(s): 356