The Arlesdale Railway - Engines & Rolling Stock

Rex

Rex

One of the original trio brought to Sodor to run the Arlesdale Railway, Rex is the eldest of the engines as they are today but has an unfortunate tendency to slip which limits him at times. He however more than makes up for this with his cutting and sarcastic wit and overall hard-working ethos, even if his pride can become his fall at times...

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Built by Davey Paxman of Colchester 1923; original railway unknown, modified by Yorkshire Engine Co.
LOCO TYPE: Miniature-gauge express steam locomotive
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #21 - Small Railway Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1965-6
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 2-8-2 with tender
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Apple Green lined in red with gold ‘ARLESDALE’ on tendersides
CREATOR: Rev. W. Awdry

About the Character

Technically the oldest of the engines, Rex is more like an equal to the other two, Mike and Bert, than some elderly guide given the scrapes and arguments he has gotten into – and caused! Notable incidents are becoming derailed after colliding with a trailer full of hay. However, he is a free-spirited, friendly engine with a wisecrack for almost any occasion, although his razor wit can sometimes come back to haunt him – as it did when the Arlesdale Railway started running Halloween trains!


Rex has not required major rebuilding during his time on Sodor, but is prone to slipping with all but the lightest trains which means drivers have to drive him carefully to ensure the best performance out of him. Heavy freights are out of the question as demonstrated once with a heavy train when a Blister diesel was required to bank him, and so he has less turns on the bulky goods trains that the railway is contracted for. Regardless, he is a hard worker and willing to do what needs be done, including being dragged up the valley to be a ‘water tender’ to help put out a great fire!

In 2013 upon the expiry of his boiler ticket, he was taken to the Workshops for an Overhaul. This was greatly delayed owing to the Workshop fire, and he didn’t return to regular traffic until the following year. 

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Rex is based on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway’s ‘River Esk’, having a more twin-like relationship with his Ravenglass counterpart than the other engines – built at the same time and place as ‘Esk’, it is noted that Rex was sent to the Yorkshire Engine Co. at the same time, for the same work of modification to his valve gear as indeed, River Esk was!

Mike

Initially brought to Sodor in the early 1960s, Mike was one of Three Small Engines. Of the three he was the strongest and preferred goods trains but with this strength came a fiery temper and a cutting wit as well as an impatient streak which has lead him down the path to trouble on a number of occasions...

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Built by Yorkshire Engine Co; original railway unknown
LOCO TYPE: Miniature-gauge express steam locomotive.
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #21 - Small Railway Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1965-6
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 2-8-2 with tender
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Furness Red lined in blue with gold ‘ARLESDALE’ on tendersides
CREATOR: Rev W. Awdry

About the Character

Mike, although a strong and reliable engine has had his fair share of mishaps and adventures during his time on Sodor, including losing his whistle in his first year - thankfully this was quickly replaced, (unlike when the same happened on the Fairbourne)! Notable incidents have included demolishing a wall in trying to break a speed record and assisting to put out a heath fire when it threatened the railway one summer.

He was also very reluctant to forgive Jock when, having been moved to the Workshops following a heated argument one evening, he, Bert and Mike were all caught up in the terrible Workshop fire which destroyed the building and nearly took the three engines with it. 
Conversely, Mike for all his irritability was once facepainted as a ‘clown engine’ for a family fun day out and helped make the event a roaring success!

Strange amongst many engines is the fact that he prefers goods to passenger trains but is happy to work either. Nevertheless, he is a popular if touchy, hardworking member of the Small Controller’s fleet of engines.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

“Mike” is directly based off the Ravenglass & Eskdale’s own No.9, “River Mite”, a new engine commissioned in 1966 and brought to the R&ER via traction engine!

Bert

Bert

Initially brought to Sodor in the early 1960s, Bert was one of Three Small Engines, but unlike the others brought his share of mechanical problems. Unlike the others however, Bert is a more laid-back and kindly-inclined character, preferring only to step in when things heat up. That isn’t to say that he can’t hold his own in any battle of wits however...

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Built by Yorkshire Engine Co; original railway unknown
LOCO TYPE: Miniature-gauge express steam locomotive.
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #21 - Small Railway Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1965-6
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 0-8-2 with tender
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Furness Red lined in blue with gold ‘ARLESDALE’ on tendersides
CREATOR: Rev W. Awdry

About the Character

It is Bert that has likely undergone the most change during his time on Sodor. Created as a rebuild from an antique 0-8-0 tank locomotive, he was sold to a railway in England which in turn closed down and sold Bert to the fledging Arlesdale Railway consortium. It was noted here that he did not steam as well as the design allowed for, principally due to draughting and firebox problems.
Notable incidents in the early days with Bert are when he was noted for puffing so hard he managed to soak a train full of passengers, including a certain Clergyman...

For a few years Bert steamed on until 1974 when, following in the wake of the Ravenglass & Eskdale’s own River Irt being rebuilt, the railway gave Bert an overhaul which entailed a new taller cab, an uglier stovepipe funnel and new design of firebox. However this did not resolve all the problems - things coming to a head when Bert, shy of steam had to be drawn by a horse! This set in motion a chain of events leading to a second overhaul.

A new draughting system based on the advanced system of Jock, a more elegant funnel and a modified firebox have lead to happier times for Bert however. Since then, Bert has been a sterling performer, acting as the calmer, if quicker to anger of the original three engines during their adventures - including helping to put out a massive fire that threatened the railway and upsetting a flock of birds that led to a derailment! After being damaged in the 2013 Workshop fire, Bert had the honour of returning to regular service by visiting a heritage railway on the Mainland for their gala event before returning home. 

Real Life Locomotive Basis

“Bert” is based on the Ravenglass and Eskdale’s own River Irt, reflecting the changes that the same locomotive has undergone in its long and varied lifetime.

Sigrid of Arlesdale

Sigrid of Arlesdale

Sigrid of Arlesdale is the Arlesdale Railway’s bigger Diesel locomotive, originally built to act as a back-up and attend to matters on the permanent way. Sigrid is kind, considerate and mature, and can often act as a mother figure to the other engines. However, when she needs to be, she can be quite fiery and ‘ready for action’ as demonstrated during the outbreak of a huge lineside fire in the mid 1970s following Bert’s rebuild.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Arlesdale Railway
LOCO TYPE: Severn-Lamb Diesel-Hydraulic
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 47 – Small Railway Surprises
DATE OF ENTRY: 1969
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 2-C-2
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Two-tone blue
CREATOR: Rev. W. Awdry
DEVELOPER: Ryan Healy

About the Character

Sigrid of Arlesdale is a Diesel Hydraulic 2-C-2 locomotive built by Severn Lamb of Stratford under plans from the Arlesdale Railway’s Chief Engineer, Ivan Farrier. At first she was fitted with a Ford 4 cylinder engine, however, extensive trials under normal traffic conditions proved that it did not have enough power. It was replaced by a 6 cylinder Perkins engine, and performance since has been greatly improved.

Sigrid’s main role within the railway’s structure was initially to provide a back-up locomotive to Rex, Mike and Bert. The Small Controller confirmed that in the periods that both Awdrys covered within their books, Sigrid was often waiting for the call to action, and this would account for her not appearing in the books they wrote. However, as time has gone on, her role has been drawn more to the forefront of the railway’s operations, and she will often be seen helping to carry out the intensive timetable that the Small Controller commands.

Sigrid was named after a legendary Sudrian Heroine, whose leadership secured the defeat of the Norman invasion in 1094. Through her own character and spirit, it’s thought she embodies a lot of the qualities of her namesake.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Sigrid of Arlesdale is based on Shelagh of Eskdale, one of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway’s Diesel locomotives. Unusually for a diesel locomotive, the driven axles are linked by coupling rods, as for a steam locomotive. In 1998 the engine was rebuilt into a diesel-mechanical locomotive when it gained a Ford industrial engine with Spicer Compact Shuttle transmission. It is currently a mixed traffic engine and used throughout the year. Its livery is two-tone green.

Jock

Jock

Not featured in the debut volume of the Arlesdale, this engine became the central theme of the second volume to feature the Small Railway - as a visible symbol of the railway's growth and progress. A powerful all rounder, he quickly learnt that Teamwork was key to running the railway ahead of his own headstrongness.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN:Arlesdale Railway
LOCO TYPE: New-build Generic Steam Locomotive Design
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #34 - Jock the New Engine
DATE OF ENTRY: 1975
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 2-6-2 with tender
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Highland Railway Muscat Green with red and dark green lining
CREATOR: Christopher Awdry

About the Character

Jock was the new build engine of the Arlesdale Railway, built to help the three original engines who were stretched by the phenomenal growth of the early years. However, young and cocky after pulling a lorry trailer single-handedly into the Yard, he soon learnt that Teamwork was better than 'Tit for Tat' to borrow from another volume. Since then he has matured, shouldered with the responsibility of being the Arlesdale's strongest engine yet developing a wry sense of humour. In addition to this he has also been known for a serious competitive streak but usually has discovered when too far is too far in his desire to prove himself.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

'Jock' is based on the Ravenglass and Eskdale's own "Northern Rock" and shares the same Muscat Green livery. The 'Northern Rock' in a way has become the 'flagship engine' of the R&ER with two other members of the class having been built for export to Japan.

Frank

Frank

Not featured in the debut volume of the Arlesdale, this diesel arrived only afterwards and instantly took umbrage at being left out. Since then he has come a long way from the ‘grumpy diesel’ stereotype and has proven to be a reliable member of the fleet, often used on light passenger and works trains.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Unknown; built to present form by previous owners and then sold to Arlesdale concern by mid 1970s
LOCO TYPE: Custom Diesel-Mechanical “Passenger Tractor”
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #34 - Jock the New Engine
DATE OF ENTRY: 1975
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 0-4-4
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Works Grey with red lining
CREATOR: Christopher Awdry

About the Character

Frank is the oldest of the diesels – even if by how far is unclear at this time, and yet it shows with his grumpiness. Sometimes, though, he can also be kindhearted and willing to lend a hand, as seen when he helped Rex after a breakdown by taking his train - and delivering the “new engine” during the ongoing saga of Bert’s rebuild.

Frank is also the head of the Permanent way fleet, ready at a moment’s notice to assist with whatever incident the Small Railway can throw at him. This element of versatility saw him entrusted with his own regular passenger workings late in 2013 as he took charge of early morning and late afternoon services during the off-peak seasons on the railway. For this function he now has a small but comfortable shed near the top station. 

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Frank is based on “Perkins”, the diesel of same build at the Ravenglass and Eskdale. It is noted that Perkins has had a very long life, albeit in different shapes and forms over the years, including that of a steam-outline look for passenger trains during the 1960s.

Bassett The Museum Engine

The Arlesdale Railway's 'as and when' engine, Bassett lives in the museum building at Arlesdale, but is occasionally steamed up to take part during special events on the railway.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Private Railway (Unknown)
LOCO TYPE: Bassett-Lowke
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #93 - The Small Railway Gala
DATE OF ENTRY: 1980
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 4-4-2
CURRENT STATUS: Operational / Museum Exhibit

CURRENT LIVERY: Royal Blue
CREATOR: Chris The Xelent

About the Character

In 1912, three 15” gauge locomotives were ordered from the acclaimed Miniature Engineer W.J.Basset-Lowke. Two of these, Synolda and Sans Pareil were destined for the Sand Hutton Light Railway in Yorkshire. The third, which didn’t receive a name before completion, was ordered for a privately owned miniature railway constructed at a stately home; merely for pleasure purposes.

 

The two SHR engines were built first. However, the third was delayed following the sudden death of the client. This half-completed engine was placed at the back of the works and ignored for several years, with the coming of the First World War slowing progress even further. As fortune would have it, the 1920s brought about the coming of millionaires’ toys. And, following discovery that this engine was left in the clients’ inheritance to a friend of his, it was completed, christened ‘Bassett’ and given a long-awaited home working first at an amusement park.

 

The following decade would find him work on a miniature line around the grounds of a holiday camp, as part of an empire run by his eventual owner.

This continued through the Second World War and into the 1950s. By the 1960s however, the changing holiday trade saw the eventual decline of amusements at all holiday camps. Bassett’s was one of the last to be affected, struggling on until 1978 when, worn out after frequent neglect, he was made surplus to requirements.

Happily though, word got around to a member of the Arlesdale Railway on Sodor, who were setting up a small museum at the time. With this in mind, Bassett was kindly donated and given a full overhaul; the most comprehensive he’d received in several years.

 

Ever since his rescue, Bassett has made occasional outings on the Arlesdale line, mainly at Gala weekends or on special charters. But his modest size restricts his use on todays crowed tourist trains!

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Bassett is based on W.J.Bassett-Lowke Class 30 4-4-2s Synolda and Sans Pareil, built in 1912 for the Sand Hutton Railway.

Sans Pareil’s history is rather short, being withdrawn in 1926 to patch up another miniature locomotive. But Synolda has lived a happier life; first at the SHR, then a pleasure park in Southend before ending up working at Belle View Zoo in Manchester. The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway rescued her in 1978. And has since been used for special workings on home territory and on other miniature railways around the UK.

The Blister Twins

The Blister Twins

The Blisters have been with the Arlesdale Railway since the 1960s, and are a pair of cheeky, mischievous Diesel locomotives used as the station, workshops and Quarry pilots. However, the twins have a tragic streak as well... Blister I caused a very dangerous accident through his recklessness, which caused great damage to Blister II, and left him out of action for some time, with little optimism about his return to service. However, the two were given an uneasy reunion in 2001, where the foundations of a new friendship were forged through Blister I’s heroism and Blister II’s realisation on his brother’s true strength of character.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Arlesdale Railway
LOCO TYPE: RA Lister
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #75 – Sudrian Twin Engines / ERS #83 – Small Railway Discoveries
DATE OF ENTRY: 1963
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: 4W
CURRENT STATUS: Both Operational

CURRENT LIVERY: Royal Blue
CREATOR: The Rev. W. Awdry
DEVELOPER: Old Square Wheels

About the Character

The Blister twins were bought for the construction of Arlesdale Railway in the mid 1960s, and were retained once the initial task had been completed. Although far too small for the passenger work that Rex, Mike and Bert were bought to handle, they would prove to be very useful for shunting tasks and maintenance duties. They were given the nickname ‘Blisters’ on account of the starting difficulties that staff encountered on early mornings, but in no sense decries their general power and utility.

For a time in the early 1980s, they found use shunting in the Quarry, and upon occasion, were called upon to run goods trains when no other engines were available. One of these trains was beyond the capabilities of the two small engines, and caused a very unfortunate accident. Blister II suffered the brunt of the damage and was withdrawn from service immediately, whilst Blister I was transferred out to another railway on loan whilst the matter was dealt with. He returned to the railway in 2000, after a lengthy spell away and returned to his previous role.

Blister II was initially thought to be beyond economic repair. However, a restoration team took him on as a long-term concern, and rebuilt him from the ground up, salvaging as many of the original component parts that they could. By 2001, Blister II had been pieced back together and returned to full working order once again. The Small Controller decided the time was right to reunite the twins, but it did not go well for either.

However, when Blister II suffered a derailment on the wharf with the Fat Controller’s Railway, Blister I was on hand to co-ordinate a valiant rescue. The two have since returned to the previous working relationship they once enjoyed and are a credit to the Small Railway’s operation.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Blister I and Blister II are based on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway’s ‘Cyril’, the Station Pilot at Ravenglass, built in 1932 by R.A Lister, and brought to “La’al Ratty” in 1985.

Ivan Farrier

Ivan Farrier

Built in 2006 to aid in the expansion of traffic on the Small Railway, this locomotive is unique on the Small Railway as he was the first Small Engine built at Crovan’s Gate by none other than the Diesel-Hydraulic Advance Project Team. Although sometimes thought of as an outsider, he stands alone at the top of the Small diesels hierarchy through his sheer tenacity, power and importantly – reliability. His reliability and ‘worth’ is the central tenet of his purpose to work.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: NWR Crovan’s Gate / DHAP
LOCO TYPE: Custom Express Diesel; based on a design by TMA Engineering, Birmingham
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #116 - The Small Controller’s Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 2006
WHEEL ARRANGEMENT: B-B
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: Dark Royal Blue, lined in ‘two of Lean and one of Fat’ (red-flanking-white triple lining)
CREATOR: Fox

About the Character

As with their ‘big neighbours’ on Sodor, the Small Railway had not always paid much heed to their diesel stock, relying on the steam engines to bring in tourist traffic. Although properly maintained, the Small Railway diesels were felt to be lacking – Sigrid of Arlesdale with her elderly engine and transmission setup, and Frank, along with the Blister Twins, were considered too small to handle the great loads of the summer tourist season.

As a result, an express passenger diesel was called for, and this was where Sodor’s own Diesel Hydraulic Advance Project Team stepped in. Aided by the Ravenglass and Eskdale, with plans supplied by TMA Engineering, the DHAP saw this as an opportunity to test a number of their innovations as well as prove their engineering prowess. The result was an improvement upon the original design (“Douglas Ferriera”) which incorporated a number of technological advancements to be evaluated in anticipation of the forthcoming “Super Western” Project.

The locomotive himself is a stern, somber but quietly enthusiastic engine. With his advanced design, some considered him a little too powerful for the line, but after taking on the feat of rescuing two failed trains on his inauguration, the project was hailed as a success. Now he remains as the go-between of the smaller, older diesels and the main steam engines, working alongside them on heavy peak-period passenger trains.

His chance to shine, following the 2013 Workshop fire, was somewhat tainted by his determination to use the circumstances to his own personal advantage in order to show visitors how they had seemingly overlooked the resident diesel fleet, as he suffered a major failure and was out of traffic during the peak season being repaired. 

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Ivan Farrier is based on the Ravenglass & Eskdale/TMA Engineering express diesel “Douglas Ferriera”, built in 2005. The latter engine is already quite famous in 15inch gauge lore being a powerful and exceptionally reliable locomotive, as well as representing the R&ER at the Bure Valley’s “Superpower Gala” in 2008.