HOME OR AWAY?
Following the return of Peter Sam, another engine is invited to help in Wales. The Thin Controller considers sending
Duncan, but Duncan isn’t keen on ‘parading’ himself like his friends when there is so much important work
to be done at home. Luckily, Rusty has an idea, and soon Duncan is only too eager to play his part. The Talyllyn withdrew
their No 4 ‘Edward Thomas’ for overhaul in 2001, and repainted their No 6 ‘Douglas’ into Skarloey
Railway colours. The use of Rusty was an in-joke; at many Christopher Awdry and Duncan Days, No 5 ‘Midlander’
has been painted up to play the part of Rusty.
During the year of building work at Tywyn Wharf station, part of the platform was closed off to passengers and
trains, meaning that many trains stood off the platform. A special chain gate was erected to safely guide people across the
line to the café. Although I did witness an incident whereby an engineering train got stuck at the ‘chains’ in
the same manner as poor Alf, never to my knowledge was their such a close call with passengers crossing the line in front
of trains. In truth, this story was my attempt to develop the point Christopher Awdry was trying to make in his story ‘Trouble
on the Line’ from book 35. As Dolgoch says, even small engines can be dangerous.
CATCHING DUNCAN’S DONKEY
Another instance of two separate incidents combining to make
one story. Duncan is delayed by Merseysider when the diesel is busy on works trains to repair telephone cables, and later
gets into a chase with a donkey. Animals straying onto the line is certainly nothing new on the Talyllyn or Skarloey Railways,
but rarely has a donkey been the subject of discussion. However, one did venture onto the line during my TR volunteering days,
which was chased all the way to Brynglas before the farmer could catch up with it. The added issue with the telephones is
also based on a TR incident, which serves to increase Duncan’s embarrassment and frustration.
Talyllyn has strong words with Duncan over his attitude, making the visiting engine realise how foolish he has been.
His chance to redeem himself soon arrives when he is assigned Edward Thomas’s heavy train on the very morning a furious
gale hits the Welsh coast. Once again, this story was from my TR days, although I wasn’t on the train myself. I was
in charge of Abergynolwyn station for the day, receiving a telephone call from Control asking ‘Is the train there yet?’!
If memory serves it was 45 minutes late, and was indeed hauled by their No 6.