The George England locomotives of the Ffestiniog Railway


This new book, from author and railway enthusiast Dan Quine, tells the history of the steam locomotives built by George England for the world famous Ffestiniog Railway.

Learn about some of the earliest narrow gauge steam locomotives in the world. How they revolutionised the horse tramway that carried slates from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. How the early side tank locomotives were improved over time and became the engines we know now. How these unique locomotives worked over the years, were used on the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways and how, after the Second World War, they were preserved and restored.

Buy your own copy of the book

About the book

The book contains many previously unpublished photographs, and beautiful, high quality reproductions of a number of better known images. It includes a guide to the structure of the locomotives and detailed histories of each of them. The differences between the Small England class (Mountaineer, Princess, Prince and Palmerston) and the Large England Class (Little Giant and Welsh Pony) are explained and each locomotive's history is detailed with copious photographs to show their evolution.

 Welsh Pony on display at Porthmadog in 1998  Palmerston at Tan y Bwlch, 2011  Palmerston undergoing a steam test at Boston Lodge, 2004
 Palmerston being reassembled at Boston Lodge, 1987  Inside Prince's cab in 2013  Princess on display at Paddington, 2013

The stories

The book also includes the stories of the men who built the Englands. A biography of George England describes his rise from the banks of the River Tyne to Gold Medal inventor at the Great Exhibition, to well known locomotive manufacturer. You'll hear the story of how Robert Fairlie wooed England's daughter, eloped with her and was then sued by George England. And how, after all that acrimony, Robert took over from George as the owner of George England & Co. and built his famous Little Wonder Double Fairlie locomotive at the works at New Cross in South East London.

Other interesting stories you'll find in the book:
  • How Charles Menzies Holland, nephew of the Festiniog's largest customer, "helped" design the England locomotives.
  • Palmerston's miraculous rebirth from a rusted hulk that was sold to a group based in Staffordshire, to his glorious restoration on the Ffestiniog Railway.
  • Prince's extensive modifications since preservation, that radically altered his appearance and performance.
  • The final fate of Little Giant who gave his all to aid the Preservation Society in their hour of greatest need.
  • Welsh Pony's strange travels after 1955, including a little-known sojourn to Birmingham.
  • The mysteries of the pipework on the locos is unravelled, showing how it reflects the development of the railway.

 Little Giant at Harbour station, 1910  Welsh Pony at Harbour station in 1936  Princess at Duffws station, Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1939

Samples from the book

The timeline of periods of operation and major overhauls for all the Englands:

Three sample pages from the book, taken from the locomotive histories. You can also preview the first 15 pages of the book.

First, a double-page spread on Welsh Pony

The introduction to the section on Little Giant

3D Scanning and Printing

This book was originally produced as a reward for people who supported the Kickstarter project to laser scan and print models of the four remaining George England narrow gauge steam locomotives. In February 2013, the team spent three days at Boston Lodge shining lasers at the locos to get the most accurate and complete record of their shape yet made. These "point clouds" were then converted to 3D CAD models which can be printed out, at any scale, on 3D printers. This means that you can get models of the individual locomotives in scales from Nn3 up to 16mm and in theory even at 1:1. The book contains a chapter detailing this exciting new modelling process.

CAD model of Palmerston Full colour render of Palmerston A 16mm scale test print of some of the components of Palmerston

Customer feedback

I was delighted to hear from one of the first customers of the book, Robin Adams, who said: 

"It's far more wide-ranging and historical than I'd expected - and all the better for that. The section on laser scanning and 3D printing makes a very suitable - and instructive - coda. It was a particularly nice touch to begin with Trevithick. My acquaintances in the Trevithick Society ... should be delighted. Our perpetual grouse is that Trevithick's usual fate is to be airbrushed out of history: whereas you have allowed him in."

Thank you for your kind words, Robin.

Publication Details

This book is published by Flexiscale and produced using Blurb. Copies of the book are printed on demand, so your copy is printed when you place an order and shipped direct to you.


Since publication the following new information has come to light:
  • Page 5: George England's date of death is given as 1895 in the book. His actual date of death was 2nd. March 1878, from the London Gazette.

Buying the book

The book measures 25 x 20 cm and has 40 pages, it has colour photographs throughout. There are two options, the softcover costs £19.99 and the hardcover costs £24.99.

Prices do not include shipping and local sales tax may apply. If you are ordering from outside the UK, you can select to buy in your local currency by selecting the appropriate Blurb site in the bottom-right of the ordering page.

Copies of the book are available in 2014 at the following fine establishments:
In illustrious company on the shelves of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway bookshop

Buy your own copy of the book, all proceeds go to the restoration fund for Welsh Pony.

I'm delighted that 325 copies of the book have now been sold, raising over £1100 for Welsh Pony