Edwin Boston

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The Reverend Edwin Richard Boston MA (Cantab) (born Solihull, 20 August 1924,[citation needed] died 1 April 1986), known as Teddy Boston, was a Church of England clergyman and author. He built a narrow gauge railway in the grounds of his Rectory at Cadeby, Leicestershire, and was immortalized as the "Fat Clergyman" in The Railway Series children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry.[1]


Boston was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, and Jesus College, Cambridge, before training for the ministry of the Church of England at Lincoln Theological College.[2][3]


From 1949, Boston served as curate of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.[4] He became Rector of Cadeby and Vicar of Sutton Cheney, both in Leicestershire, in 1960, remaining in post until his death in 1986.[2] At the 2001 census, Cadeby reported 177 inhabitants,[5] Sutton Cheney 545.[6]

Steam enthusiast[edit]

Boston's Bagnall locomotive Pixie in 1981

In the words of Peter Scott, "The story of the Cadeby Light Railway is really the story of one man - 'Teddy' Boston".[2]

In May 1962, Boston bought a Bagnall saddle tank locomotive number 2090, named 'Pixie', and set about building a light railway in the grounds of the Rectory at Cadeby. U-shaped, with a total length of 110 yards, the line opened on 7 April 1963 and carried its first passengers a month later.[2]

In 1967, Boston bought from Lilleshall Hall another narrow gauge locomotive, number 1695, which was an engine he had seen working a light railway at Lilleshall when he was young. After standing idle for twenty-seven years, it had been reported as 'rediscovered' in the Narrow Gauge News and was moved to Cadeby on 6 May 1967. There, 1695 was renamed 'The Terror', in reference to Psalm 91, "The Terror that walketh in darkness", as the engine was so hard to start that it could be dark before it was going.[2]

Situated in the grounds at Cadeby was a large wooden shed which housed a very extensive OO gauge model railway depicting the pre-war Great Western Railway. It also contained a separate, smaller narrow gauge layout, a 4 mm scale, 12 mm gauge line based on the Isle of Man Railway. Latterly Boston also owned a canal narrowboat which had an N gauge model railway on board, narrow boats being an interest of his wife, Audrey.[2]

He was a close friend of the Rev. W. V. Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, a kindred spirit with whom he shared many railway holidays. In Small Railway Engines (1967), Awdry relies on a trip the two made together to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, and they appear in the book as 'the Fat Clergyman' (Boston) and 'the Thin Clergyman' (Awdry).[7]

Of his visits to Cadeby, Awdry wrote:[8]

Boston's love of railways and collection of steam locomotives and rolling stock are celebrated in Susanna Johnston and Tim Beddow's book Collecting: The Passionate Pastime, together with Lady Diana Cooper's love of unicorns.[9][10]

Market Bosworth Steam Rally[edit]

Boston liked to attend steam rallies, but found transporting heavy equipment expensive, and in 1964 he founded a new annual 'Market Bosworth Steam Rally'. He wrote:[11][12]

At home[edit]

Boston has been described as "a short, round, jolly man, much given to Anglo-Saxon language in times of stress, such as a close run race with his traction engine Fiery Elias".[13] In his foreword to Font to Footplate, W. V. Awdry wrote: "In thinking of our Teddy it is important to realise that despite the impression that this book may seem to give, he was a Parish Priest first and a steam enthusiast second. He never forced religion on anyone; but his sincere faith and devotion was there for all to see, coupled with his impish sense of humour."[4]

Grass grew in the gutters of the Rectory, which was full of Boston's railway collections. The walls were covered with shelves bearing model railway locomotives and rolling stock. In every room, the collection overflowed onto the floor, and it continued up the stairs, including a comprehensive collection of railway films on celluloid.[13]

When Boston died, he left a widow, Audrey, who was still living in 2015. She shared her husband's enthusiasm for steam and for many years continued to co-organize the Market Bosworth Steam Rally.[11]


  • Boston, Rev. E. R., Rails Round the Rectory - The story of the Cadeby Light Railway (Loughborough: The Book House, 1973) ISBN 0-902520-03-2.
  • Boston, Rev. E. R., Font to Footplate (Line One Publishing, 1986) ISBN 0-907036-23-6


  1. ^ Sibley, Brian (1995). The Thomas the Tank Engine Man. Heinemann. p. 148. ISBN 0-434-96909-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Scott, Peter, A History of the Alton Towers Railway: Including Other Railways & Transport Appendix Eight: Cadeby Light Railway online at books.google.co.uk (accessed 12 April 2008)
  3. ^ Lidell, Charles Lawrence Scruton, Douglas, A. B., The History and Register of Gresham's School, 1555-1954 (Ipswich, 1955)
  4. ^ a b Awdry, W. V., Foreword to Font to Footplate, the autobiography of Rev. E. R. Boston (1986)
  5. ^ Cadeby at leics.gov.uk (accessed 16 April 2008)
  6. ^ Sutton Cheney at leics.gov.uk (accessed 16 April 2008)
  7. ^ Wilcock, David, The Rev Wilbert Awdry - Thomas the Tank Engine's Creator - Dies at 85, obituary in Steam Railway dated June 1997 online at pegnsean.net (accessed 13 April 2008)
  8. ^ Dog-collars on the footplate online at telegraph.co..uk (accessed 13 April 2008)
  9. ^ Books of the Times at nytimes.com (accessed 12 April 2008)
  10. ^ Collecting: The Passionate Pastime by Susanna Johnston and Tim Beddow (Harper & Row, 1984)
  11. ^ a b CADEBY STEAM & COUNTRY FAYRE: History Archived 3 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine at cadebysteam.co.uk (accessed 12 April 2008)
  12. ^ Boston, Rev. E. R., Font to Footplate (1986)
  13. ^ a b Rooth, Mike, The Parson and the Cadeby Light Railway at ovlr.org (accessed 12 April 2008)

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