From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

A Guide[edit]

A guide to some of the alternative names used around the FR (at least those that can be given here without breaking the rules for contributing!). We will never know how extensive the application of nicknames, such as 'Birminghams' for the Brown Marshall carriages, was in the days of the old FR Co. Since the early days of the revival the practice of applying nicknames to all sorts of things has been widespread. Some of these are affectionate, some not! Some can be taken either way, depending on circumstance; "Little Bs" for the "Small Birminghams" probably had as much to do with their size as it had to do with the great difficulty of working on the vehicles because of their curious design!

Acronyms and Abbreviations[edit]

Commonly used around the railway and the Wiki:


Engines' nicknames in common use are those bestowed upon them by the crews that operate and maintain them. The nicknames reflect affection, or the opposite, or some trait of the engine. As a result, nicknames change and evolve to reflect happenings and events.

  • Blanche is also known as Ricket. Ricket comes from Rocket, because it derailed on the same day as the Rocket replica in the 70's, and the national press misreported that as Ricket. Occasionally referred to as '589', its Hunslet works number.
  • Blanche and Linda are collectively known as the Ladies. The classification (Penrhyn) Lady Class is also used for these locos.
  • Britomart is also known as Baby Blue (it's small, and blue)
  • David Lloyd George is normally shortened to DLG and is also known as The Dave, No. 12 (Its nominal stock list number) or The Soup Dragon (The original, unfinished, livery had the same colour as the tomato soup available in Boston Lodge den). More recently earning the name 50 Shades (of Dave) due to the temporary grey livery for the 2014 season being difficult to clean, leading to a blotchy appearance.
  • Dolgarrog is occasionally known as The Little Blue Engine
  • Earl of Merioneth is also known as The Square on account of his square tanks (The Mighty Square when going well) or just shortened to The Earl.
  • Linda is known as Dig-a-dag (resembling the sound she makes when working hard) or Nivelty / The Niv (applying the same Ricket/Rocket misspelling to another Rainhill Trial locomotive "The Novelty"). Occasionally referred to as '590', its Hunslet works number.
  • Lyd has been nicknamed Tim.
  • Mountaineer II is also known as The Alco (She was built by the American Locomotive Company) or as The Barge (Garbage Barge - derived from a news story in the mid 1980s re: a barge of toxic garbage from the USA that nobody wanted. At a time when the Alco was not performing very well, no-one wanted the Garbage Barge and no-one wanted to go on the Alco either!). As of August 2022, the Mountaineer has started to be referred to as the Also in various circles as a result of an unfortunate spelling mistake in a fundraising email.
  • Palmerston is also known as Eric from the Monty Python song Eric the half a bee (it's half a double engine).
  • Prince is also known as The Gimp from the lively ride, we couldn't think of a suitable adjective for it so made one up. Once known also as Smedley because when in FR green livery it resembled a tin of that company's peas. However, when he was going well, Alan Garraway used to refer to him as The Old Gent. Sometimes Prince masquerades as Duke (an engine from the Thomas The Tank Engine stories, who is based on Prince).
  • Taliesin III is also known as Ernie (as he was rebuilt by the same people who rebuilt Palmerston (Eric & Ernie)) or just shortened to Tal
  • Volunteer was more commonly known as The Peckett (she was built by Peckett).
  • The East German 0-8-0 99.3462 stored at Boston Lodge from 1972 to 1978 was known as Bimmelbahn
  • Ashover is also known as Ozzy (origin unknown)
  • Conway Castle is normally known as Conkout (In its earlier days, it used to quite a lot!)
  • Criccieth Castle is shortened to Cricc or is sometimes known as Crikey.
  • Harlech Castle is also known as INA after the initials on its cab side when it arrived.
  • Harold (the Works shunter) is known as Sh!tty (it came from a sewage works and was covered in it when it arrived) or Shitty the Shunter in emulation of a series of children's books (Eileen Gibb's Sammy the Shunter).
  • Mary Ann is more commonly known as The Simplex as the loco only had name plates for a short period of its life. In the early days of the revival it was sometimes referred to as The Tractor
  • Moel Hebog is known as Hedgehog
  • Moelwyn was known for a period as Alabama Tractor or Bama (Origin unknown). The name Moelwyn is derived from the makers, Baldwin, Moel being welsh for bald.
  • Moel-y-Gest is known as Castle Aarghh or The Aarghh
  • A number of Simplexes have been known as Tin Turtles
  • Upnor Castle is known as Uproar (on account of the engine making a lot of noise)
  • Vale of Ffestiniog is normally known as The Funkey (Locomotive builders) or "The Vale". It was previously known as The Blue Brick or just The Brick, but has since been repainted and The two tone green brick has less of a ring to it leading to the names falling out of use!

Rolling Stock[edit]

  • The compartment coaches are known as lock-ups because the doors have to be locked up before departure.
  • 10x-series carriages are known as Barns as they are much larger and more spacious than previous stock. The supposed derivation of the name from their design being based on the Lynton and BARNstaple Railway No. 14, was made long after the event, by people not involved at the time. The latest modern carriages which have similar external panelling have become known as Superbarns.
  • 11x-series carriages are known as Tin Cars (they are made of thin sheet steel welded over a framework made of box-section steel)
  • Carriage 11 is better known as The Flying Bench (it's a bug box without a shell, effectively a bench on wheels)
  • Carriages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 & 12 are known as Bug Boxes due to their small sizes, also known as Little B's or Small Birminghams (carriage builder).
  • Carriage 1 is known as the Zoo Car (its sides are largely open with a wire mesh, resembling a cage)
  • Carriage 12 is known as the Porthole bugbox because it has circular ventilators in the ends resembling portholes
  • Carriages 8 & 33 are known as Quarrymens (original use)
  • Carriages 17,18,19 and 20 are known as Bowsiders because of the shape of their sides
  • Van 1 is known as the the Curly Roofed Van for obvious reasons.

Other Kit[edit]

A Matisa tamper purchased in the 60's acquired the name Stefcomatic, after Steve Coulson who played a major part in its rebuilding to 2 ft gauge.
Plasser And Theurer KMX95 CM Tamper is known as Cockomatiqué, meaningless in French or English, but following the tradition of the above, Stefcomatic by adapting a volunteer's nickname. The KMX is also occasionally referred to as the BMX.


  • General Manager Allan Garraway was known as AGWG, a punning nickname employing quasi-Welsh to pronounce his initials (Gwg = scowl/frown). This inevitably became "The Goog".
  • Jim Hewett is also known as Heritage Jim
  • John Harrison, Tan y Bwlch stationmaster from 1969 into the 1970s was known as Lord North.

Locations and Buldings[edit]

  • Porthmadog is often shortened to Port.
  • Meillionen is often referred to as the campsite (it's easier to say!)
  • The covered siding between the Maenofferen Sheds is called Chapel Road or Anderlecht Siding for reasons explained here.

The Ffestiniog Railway[edit]

The railway itself, in pre-closure days, was commonly called "Lein Bach 'Stiniog" or "Lein Bach Port" by locals.

The Ffestiniog Railway was often referred to as 'The Festering Bog' by early trackwork volunteers on account of the wet and boggy conditions in which they had to work in some of the cuttings. In Boston Lodge Works, however, where mechanical facilities were somewhat limited at the time, the term 'The Few Tin Cog' was frequently used. The name originated from the misaddressing of boxes of welding electrodes from Lincoln Electric(?) which came addressed to 'The Fewtincog Railway, Boston Lodge'.

The Dark Side[edit]

An all-purpose nickname. Staff on the FR often refer to the WHR as The Dark Side. Meanwhile, workers on the WHR often refer to the FR as The Dark Side. Who is right? Who is light? And who is truly dark? Whatever the truth, it's all just JGF. Similarly those with a favourite may refer to the other line as the branch line.

An e-group message written by a Blodge Stalwart[edit]

Nicknames and Usages from an e-group message written by a Blodge Stalwart.

As I have said before, nicknames are coined by those in the know, there at the time and designed to form an almost secret language for those active at the railway and in the know. They are often coined in the heat of the moment and they can apply to engines, people, buildings and even tools. They are often the result of a black sense of humour, they certainly aren't PC and many are unrepeatable. Many, if repeated on the e-group would be offensive as they are out of context but, if you're stuck in a 1 foot 10 inch wide pit that you are too tall for, covered in oil and grease, being squirted by steam and hot water, whilst the pit is filling up because the tide is coming in (yes, some of the pits are tidal) and you have a broken double engine around your ears, they seem wholly appropriate and probably the most repeatable language you would hear at that time.

Most are transient and have passed before they ever make it to messages on the e-group. They tend to be coined between two or more people involved in whatever and then only endure if another party hears it and makes them laugh. Here are a couple of examples for you. I'm not going to name the people, they can out themselves if they wish........

The cleaner who got up everyone's nose became Snuff and is to this day. The works manager who was crap and became the Chocolate teapot until they realised we were right and got rid. The works foreman who came in on his day off and potentially messed up a private loco roster swap but was sat in the same room as the person trying to explain to the other over the phone, and became the spanner in the works was known by all as the spanner until he left.

And finally there is the pope, coined as a result of an incident and made famous in the subsequent cartoon.

You will have heard the most enduring of the engine nicknames, those of the people have a tendency to change to reflect their most recent cock up.

You will only ever get to hear of the more enduring ones and constant pleas for explanations on the e-group for ones you don't understand will just result in them being changed when someone blabs out the answer. The very reason they are used on that open forum is to show an intimate knowledge, convey messages to others in the know and, possibly, to wind up those that don't know and have no business knowing. It is also nothing new; that forum just provides a new medium for doing it. In days of old it was usual to have some little spoof for the people who turned up once a year for the AGM to tell the rest of us we're doing it wrong, ones I can think of are renaming engines, labelling stuff wrongly in the works and, probably the best, lighting a fire in the old works chimney just after the mag had said it was to be demolished.

See also[edit]