William Williams (1835)

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
William Williams
William Williams in 1907, outside Boston Lodge No.3 Cottage
Born Circa 1835
Died 1915
Employer FR Co.
Occupation Locomotive superintendent
Predecessor Charles Easton Spooner
Successor Robert Williams
FR People | WHR People

William Williams was locomotive superintendent of the Festiniog Railway from 1881 to 1909.

Early life and family[edit]

Wlliams was born around 1835 in Tremadoc. Around 1837/8, he and his parents moved to Hawarden in Flintshire where his father (also William) was an engineer. By 1851 William (snr) was working for the FR and the family were living at 3, Penycob which is now probably 2, Boston Lodge. William jnr (15) and his brother Owen (13) were apprentice fitters at the works. Information in the FR archives suggests William started working for the FR in 1847. His grandfather was Richard Williams, a blacksmith from Tremadoc. It is thought he worked for William Madocks on the construction of Tremadoc.

By 1861, William snr had died and William jnr had married Elizabeth Parry (in 1857). It is believed they then lived in what is now No. 3, Boston Lodge. At that time they had two daughters and William's mother was living with them. In total they had five children. Among them was John R, who trained as a Civil Engineer but went to India to work with George Percival Spooner and ended his career in the locomotive department of the East Bengal Railway in 1917, and William G. who worked for the FR as a fitter and then Loco Foreman.

William's sister, Margaret, married Solomon Owen who also worked at Boston Lodge as a sawyer.

Working in the locomotive department[edit]

William Williams in 1887

For period after the arrival of the first locos in 1863, he is recorded as being trialled as a driver in October 1863 and as being the driver of Little Wonder in 1870. By 1872, he was foreman of the locomotive department, and in about 1875 became the Works Manager for the whole of Boston Lodge. In Scribners account of the line in 1878, he again was called on to drive Little Wonder to the rescue of The Princess. Therefore during the period from 1870 to 1881, he may have combined driving with being a fitter (and later foreman/Works Manager).

In 1869, he completed the construction of Topsy, a working model steam locomotive of 3.125 inch gauge, for Charles Easton Spooner's railway at Bron-y-Garth. Later records suggest he may have been helped by George Percival Spooner, Charles' son.

Locomotive superintendent[edit]

In February 1881, was appointed Locomotive Superintendant, succeeding Charles Easton Spooner and having his salary being increased by 10s (50p) per week to £180 per year. A further salary increase to £190 15/- (£190.75) was requested in February 1888, but on direction from Spooner he received "free rent" instead.

From his notes, it was recorded that he recommended R&W Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd of Leeds as his preferred supplier for the new boiler for Princess in 1895, but the Vulcan Works won the contract.

He was dismissed in June 1909 after 62 years service, with an extremely low pension of £1 per week, terminable at any time by the Board. He was asked to vacate his lodgings at 3, Boston Lodge at the same time, and moved to live in New St., Portmadoc. He died in December 1915, and an application by his widow for a continuance on the "pension" was denied.

He was succeeded as Locomotive Superintendent by Robert Williams (no relation).

Later life and death[edit]

The period leading up to his dismissal coincided with Board room shuffles and resignations, dismissal of a number of Boston Lodge employees (including his son William G. Williams) and a report on costs produced externally by C. D. Phillips. Relations across the Cob with Frederick Vaughan were strained. William Williams carried what became a grudge against the FR to his death. He was buried at Penrhyndeudraeth Holy Trinity church, and his family had to arrange his for cortege to take a route avoiding Boston Lodge, unwilling to pass the place that mistreated him in life.

There is a poem (an Englyn) to him on his gravestone written by the famous local poet Eifion Wyn:-

O drwst y dydd a'i drystyd - ehedodd,
Heb 'oedi yn nychlyd',
I gylch beirdd goleuach byd,
A'i Feirion gofia'i weryd.

Which translates to:-

From the dawn of the day and its confusion - he flew,
Without 'sickness delay',
To the circle of the brightest bards,
And his Meirion remembers his loss.

See also[edit]