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Topsy was, technically, the first steam locomotive to be built at Boston Lodge, in 1869. She is a 3 1/8" gauge working model, based on, but not identical to the England Engines as they appeared at the time. She was built 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. 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. After Charles' death the loco passed to Percy (who had helped make it) 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 she 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.[1]

Despite its age 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).

Topsy in 1869
Topsy with the works staff c1900
Topsy at handover in March 1964
Topsy being handed over to FR in March 1964
A recent photo in Spooner's

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Article", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 078, page(s): 013