Timothy Phillips

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Timmy Phillips (full name John Timothy Phillips) was a former FR porter & signalman, Priest and guardian of Boston Lodge Works. He was born at Minffordd in 1882 son of William Phillips, FR fitter born 1850 in Penrhyn who in turn was the son of another William Phillips, born c.1824 and a FR Blacksmith. That is not the end of the family involvement as Timmy's uncle Benjamin Phillips was a FR signalman who worked at the tunnel box for many years (early 1880s to 1911).

He was younger brother of Richard Lewis Phillips who was apprenticed at Boston Lodge. He was porter at Portmadoc for a period in about 1901. He was Army Chaplin to 5th Cheshire Regiment and sailed for Egypt in 1916 serving in the Dradanelles.[1]

Roy Cunningham, writing in FR Heritage Group Journal No.84 of John Timothy Phillips, described him as the first railway preservation volunteer, in recognition of his heroic and mainly successful efforts to keep Boston Lodge Works off-limits to intruders during the closure years [1946 - 1954]. However, there is some mystery about which house Timmy actually rented and when. He did not retire until 1949 so the 1946 (an agreement in the FR Archives shows this to actually be September 1945) date given above could be wrong or he could have rented it early in preparation for retirement. Back in 1936 he had taken a 10 year lease on what is described as the "Pay Office", thought to be what is now known as Plas Smart; this surely must have been for use as a holiday home.

In March 2006, Roy Cunningham added this brief biographical sketch: "Timmy Phillips was one of those people who seemed to be able to turn his hand to anything, as circumstances dictated. I am not sure of all the details, but I believe that almost immediately after his ordination in the Church of England he joined the army as a Chaplain and found himself in the Dardanelles, in the thick of the Gallipoli campaign, where the Allies suffered tremendous losses under horrific conditions. In 1920 he left the army and became Vicar of Christ Church, Milton, Gravesend, where he remained until 1936. He then became Rector of Addington, Kent, until his retirement in 1949, whereupon he moved into No.4 Boston Lodge Cottages. In retirement he became unofficial caretaker of the works, using his smithying and handyman skills to maintain the integrity of the works boundary and thwarting many attempts to remove artifacts from the site. His revolving garage, which sadly did not function as he had hoped, still exists on the turntable just below what was his home. He was the son of a Boston Lodge fitter, which may explain how he acquired some of his skills."

Arwyn Morgan quotes an "englyn" to the Simplex (a metrical alliteration and unique) which he composed:[2]

"Di-nam yw'r peirant gwamal, a Morus

ymyrodd yn ddyfal;

Eto os na bydd atal -

Garraway a'i gyrr i'r wal.

Over meek little weaklin' - a worried

Morris kept thinkin'

Garraway can try brakin

He'll smash walls and loose machine."

He died in early 1962[3]

Rob Smallman in FR E-group posting 34571 wrote:

My very first visit to Boston Lodge in 1953, I was trying to find a way in when I had a firm hand on my shoulder, and a voice which brook no agreement. When explaining my interest, Timmy produced a large key, and I was whisked into "Sleeping Beauty's Palace".

John Winton in his book The Little Wonder quotes Timmy Phillips on a number of FR historical matters including;

His father, William, was a Boston Lodge fitter, and Timmy, himself, was a railway porter, presumably for the FR but that is not stated. It is interesting that he is addressed as Reverend whilst also being a porter - a lay preacher perhaps?

Census Entry for 1901[edit]

An entry has been found for this person at Tyddyn Llwyn Terrace, Minffordd
where the year of birth is recorded as: 1882
The occupation given is: railway porter

Information in Crockford´s Clerical Dictionary from 1940[edit]

( An annual publication from the Church of England listing all parishes and clergy)

J.T. Phillips took a B.A. at Lampeter in 1909 and was ordained in 1911. He was a curate at Llanfaes w Penmon 1910-1911, followed by Conway 1911-1913, and by Llanbeblig w Carnarvon 1913-1915. T.C.F (= Temporary Chaplain to the Forces) 1915-1920. Vicar of Ch.Ch. Milton-next-Gravesend, 1920-1936. Rector of Addington in the diocese of Rochester from 1936. [4]


  1. ^ Alexander, J(2017) Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Group Journal No. 131 Autumn 2017, Festiniog Railway - Military Matters, page 29.
  2. ^ Morgan A in Great Railway Eras, Festiniog 1946 - 1955: The Pioneers' Stories (2007) Davies M and Mitchell V, page 67, Middleton Press, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9AZ.
  3. ^ "Obituary", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 016
  4. ^ Crockford´s Clerical Directory for 1940, OUP, 1940

See also[edit]