Vic Mitchell

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Vic Mitchell
Born 1 March 1934
Died 18 January 2021
Official positions held:
FR Soc. Director 1954 - 1964
FR People | WHR People

Vic Mitchell was born on 1st March 1934. While a schoolboy he collected cigarette cards and was fascinated by one with a picture of a Double Fairlie on it. He made up his mind to see one. At the end of his school days he had a "GAP week" and with a friend he went to Towyn in July 1951 and knocked on the door of L T C Rolt's office. "Good" said Rolt, "we haven't got any other volunteers this week and a reporter from the Daily Express is here tomorrow so I want you to do some track work which he can photograph." They were photographed knocking keys into the Talyllyn Railway's unusually wide joint chairs. Tom Rolt was very cross when Vic suggested the Festiniog Railway should be revived and he used strong language to assert that there was only room for one preserved railway in the country! While in Towyn, Vic met Allan Garraway. A couple of months later he saw the notice about the Bristol Meeting in the railway press and got the train to Temple Meads and bus up to Clifton. There again he met Allan Garraway who smirked a little while Leonard Heath Humphrys rattled on about concrete sleepers etc.

He was on the early committee formed from the Bristol Meeting but then he went off to do his National Service in the RAF. He did a short officers training course and after that the trainees had the chance to say where they would like to be posted. Thinking of the FR he said "Wales", apparently an unheard of request, and found himself posted to RAF St Athan. It is at the furthest most southerly part of Wales and when he discovered how hard it was to get from there to the FR he kicked himself for not saying "Cheshire".

When in London as a dental student he was dragged onto the FR committee by Leonard Heath Humphrys. The FR committee met in the Locomotive Superintendent's Office in Euston Station. The use of the room had been obtained by the Chairman Col. RH Rudgard who had high up connections with the London Midland Region of BR. The room had a very long shiny wooden table with long leaves about a foot wide down each side. It had come out of an inspection saloon. It was only a short bus ride from where he lived to the FRS committee meetings at Euston and he was also conveniently close to Leonard Heath Humphrys's digs where he spent quite a lot of time. Vic was a director of FRS at the age of 20 years knowing nothing about company law and the responsibilities of directors. He was Sales Officer so he was frequently posting money off to Ron Garraway who was the Treasurer. Unlike some of the other founding directors who stumped up money (in most cases £5) for setting up FRS as a company limited by guarantee, Vic as an impecunious student was not required to put his hand in his pocket.

His dental studies over, his first job was in South Wales where he was a founder member of the FRS South Wales Group before moving to Midhurst in Sussex. He decided that as a director of FRS he should work in every department of the FR and Allan Garraway encouraged him in this resolve. Hence he fired locomotives and was assistant guard while Garraway drove and was guard.

He is now a publisher of many railway books including a number on the FR. He prepares about eight a year which means a lot of reading. He was not a founder member of the Hampshire & Sussex Group because the founding of that Group happened while he was in South Wales. His fiancé Barbara dressed in Welsh National costume as a publicity move at the official launch of the FRS in London at a model railway exhibition. His marriage to Barbara in November 1958 was recorded with congratulations in FRM No. 3. of Winter 1958/9. Vic and Barbara were close and lifelong friends of Allan and Moyra Garraway and regularly visited them in Scotland for many years. Barbara often worked on the FR as buffet steward while Vic was working elsewhere on the train. Barbara died in September 2015.

In 2016 Vic, Alan Clothier and John Bate were thought to be the last survivors of those who attended the 1951 Bristol Meeting.

Vic Mitchell passed away on 18 January 2021


  • Branch Lines around Porthmadog 1954-94, (1994), Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press, ISBN 1-873793-31-6
  • Branch Lines around Portmadoc 1923-46 (1993) Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press, ISBN 1-873793-13-8
  • Festiniog 1946 - 1955, The Pioneers' Stories, (2007) Davies M and Mitchell V, Middleton Press, ISBN 978 1 906008 017
  • Festiniog in the Fifties (1996) Vic Mitchell & Allan Garraway, Middleton Press ISBN 1-873793685
  • Festiniog in the Sixties (1997) Vic Mitchell & Allan Garraway, Middleton Press ISBN 1-87379391X
  • Festiniog, 50 years of enterprise, (2002), Vic Mitchell, Middleton Press, ISBN 1-901706834
  • Porthmadog to Blaenau (1995), Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Middleton Press, ISBN 1-873793502
  • Return to Blaenau (2001), Vic Mitchell & Allan Garraway, Middleton Press ISBN 1-901706648

See also[edit]