From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Topsy was, technically, the first steam locomotive to be built at Boston Lodge. It was completed in 1869. Topsy is a 3 1/8" gauge working model, based on, but not identical to the Festiniog Railway England Engines as they appeared at the time. It was built by William Williams and Percy Spooner[1] on the orders of Charles Easton Spooner and ran on a track built in the garden of Bron-y-Garth, Spooner's home. There are several historical accounts of her being demonstrated to visitors. It is known that modifications were made to the model over the first 20 years or so.

After Charles' death the loco passed to Percy and he kept it in his London flat although it never steamed again. After his death in 1917 it passed to his daughter Kitty Slade Olver. In 1922 it passed to her son John Waldron. About 1961 he lent it to Peter Knight, a school teacher in Shrewsbury. Peter lost touch with John Waldron and decided to lend it to the FR. Soon after this Peter Knight died. Eventually in 1977 John Waldron traced Peter Knight's son and told him to donate it to the FR so it was in the right place all the time. The track was found at Boston Lodge.[2]

Topsy is now displayed in a glass case in Spooner's at Harbour Station and some lengths of a portable, figure 8 track survive, in the FR Museum collection. It is thought that another, permanent, track was laid in the garden of Bron-y-Garth.

Despite its age, Topsy is not the oldest model locomotive. Other working models (not FR) were built elsewhere and at least one ( Jenny Lind, built 1852) is known to still exist (Society of Model & Experimental Engineers, London).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones, Chris; Dennis, Peter (2018). Little Giants: A History of the Ffestiniog Railway's Pre-Revival Locomotives, Their Mentors, Manufacture and Maintenance. Lydney: Lightmoor Press. ISBN 9781 911038 43 6. OCLC 1079189439.
  2. ^ "Article", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 078, page(s): 013