ERS 117 - Great Western Engines

ERS 117 - Great Western Engines - Professor Vengeance

This is a volume which took many rewrites to get right. Originally a collection of one-shots from the original ERS library, I went through several story and arc ideas to update it and meet the high standards of the newer volumes. Eventually I decided to use the concept to give Hunter some screentime and sent him to visit the other Western Engines so the title would still make sense. From that came the idea of the 'holiday from hell' and a firm story arc at last.

With Warrior still in the Works, Hunter is called to the Little Western to help out during the peak season. Hunter eagerly agrees, seeing the trip as a chance for a holiday. Things get off to a bumpy start, however, when he double-heads the Express with Sodor Castle to get there and falls foul of an apprentice guard. The incident is based on one that occurred in London during the General Strike in 1926. A dim volunteer guard got on a suburban passenger train and left the brake on all the way up the hill.

Hunter's 'holiday' goes from bad to worse when he meets Mr Biggs, the diminuative new Station Master at Haultraugh. Old Big-Mouth, as he's known, is stressed by his new job and berates the engines for so much as a wheesh while he's working. Hunter and Mr Biggs are soon at loggerheads, topped off by a literal run-in at the station crossing one afternoon. The story comes from an incident shared by Peckett from 'the days of steam' at Wellington Station. The short, angry Station Master stepped into the side of a moving train and had his hat knocked aside by its wide cylinder cover!

Hunter is certain the Fat Controller will send him home following the accident with Mr Biggs. He and Toad have a heart-to-heart in the Yard early one morning, wherein the brake van tries to cheer him up. The trucks, however, see Hunter's low mood as a chance for mischief and push him into Jinty. The blow knocks Jinty's regulator open, sending both him and Toad running down the Main Line. The accident is based on an real runaway from Pontypool Station in 1871, and is also the only incident in the volume to have happened to an actual Great Western engine!

Jinty and Toad have derailed at trap points further along the line and the brakedown crane is at the Works for repairs. A quick-thinking Hunter, an ex-apprentice guard, two Western diesels and some blocks and tackle are their only hope of rescue. The story was inspired by the unusual 'blocks and tackle' rerailing method used on the North Eastern Railway. Stuart had used a similar story in one of his V1 volumes, so many thanks to him for letting me use it again here.