ERS 113 - Toby & The Bluebell Engines

ERS 113 - Toby & The Bluebell Engines - Christopher

What was once my first-ever entry for the ERS back in 2005, under the title The Further Adventures of Stepney, I felt it was time to overhaul this book completely to maintain the high-quality standard of the new ERS Library.
With many thanks to Chris The Xelent, a good friend who has worked as an engineer on the Bluebell Railway, for inspiriting his ideas for this volume – the main premise inspired from when a Flemish tram in green and its coach visited Horsted Keynes some time back a few years ago (2004, I think??). This ties in nicely with the timeline of the Bluebell's actual developments as they press on with their extension towards East Grinstead.

With the Bluebell Railway extending towards East Grinstead, the Fat Controller agrees to send Toby and Henrietta over there as an attraction to raise money for the building work. Thomas is instantly jealous, but he needn't have been had he known that, while travelling there, Toby and Henrietta's lorry becomes stuck in a traffic jam, which delays them longer than expected.

Finally arriving at the Bluebell, Toby and Henrietta are given a warm welcome by Stepney and the other engines. They also learn about the “Stepney and Friends” event where the railway arranges rallies and entertainment for the passengers. Toby enjoys himself until he mistakes a stages runaway train for a real one, and causes panic in the station as he tries to warn everyone...until he quickly learns of his mistake!

Now here is an interesting turning point, with again the developing news of the Bluebell Extension sowing the seeds for this idea. With locomotive problems hindering the extension work, the Society were forced to hire a 08 Diesel Class Shunter (on loan from the Heritage Shunters Trust) to handle the spoil trains and other maintenance work. Its arrival on March 2006 sparked great dislike for followers and supporters of the railway as it had immediately broken the Bluebell's “No Diesels” law, what was once the only all-steam Heritage Railway in the United Kingdom...
Negative feelings aside, it gave me something to think about: “how would the poor diesel itself feel with all this harsh treatment against him?” And that's how I got about bringing in Horatio, a friendly, kind Diesel working on the Extension, but feels thoroughly miserable with everyone hating his presence. Toby feels sorry for the poor chap and tries to convince the other engines to think otherwise...

During Toby's stay, the weather becomes very cold and icy, and makes work difficult. But Toby and Henrietta continue taking passengers and Horatio continues work at the extension site. But the trucks, tired of being unappreciated for their hard work, try to run before the passenger train one morning, little realising that they are in danger of causing a head-on collision. But Horatio bravely holds them back and manages to avert disaster – severely damaging his engine in the process. All the same, since Toby put in a good word for him, the Railway's Society decides to stop their “hatred” against diesels and show their newfound respect by giving Horatio a warm Winter home in the Workshops during his repairs. Toby and Henrietta return home to Sodor, pleased at having put things right.