Henry reveals he has
delivered a new engine, purchased by the Fat Controller, to the Works. Heavily rusted and missing several parts including
his tender the engine, whom Henry reveals to be a Bulleid Pacfic, is in a bad way. Gordon is unusually quiet on hearing the
news, revealing to Wendell the following day his concerns over a second Pacific locomotive on the Island. But when Gordon
meets the friendly new arrival who inquires about being ‘a rebuilt engine’, he soon realizes his fears were unnecessary.
In real life, No. 34073 ‘249 Squadron’ is no more than a kit of parts, awaiting purchase and restoration at the
East Lancashire Railway after many years in the sea air at Barry scrap yards.
249 Squadron is carefully repaired and restored at Crovan’s Gate, but the Workmen
explain they’ll not fit his streamlined casing until after his trials. His newly built tender, however, gives some idea
how grand he will look upon completion. On the day of his test run a problem is discovered with the brake on the tender, resulting
in the unusual looking engine ‘borrowing’ Gordon’s instead! 249’s run to Wellsworth goes without further
fault; indeed, he even has the chance to assist Donald over the hill with his goods train on the way home!
Trials between railway companies are nothing new, with many famous examples over the years.
A way for designers to show off their locomotives, there was often much subsequent copying of good ideas afterwards!
series of trials is to be held on the mainline, featuring Gordon, 249 Squadron and 3 visiting Pacifics, all specifically chosen
due to their cylinders, valves and build. Gordon is delighted when his old friend Flying Scotsman arrives, along with James’
friend Princess Elizabeth from York and the rather proud Duke of Gloucester, who voices his feelings over his rivals in the
competition. With coal and water consumption measured along with overall speed, the engines set forth with gusto. At the end
of a tiring week, nearly everyone is pleased as Flying Scotsman is declared the winner.
SHALL REMEMBER THEM”
Duke of Gloucester’s disgust at losing the trials threatens to cause
upset, but 249 Squadron turns to flattery to help avoid any arguments. Later, talk in the shed turns to James’s trip
to York for the War Memorial Celebrations, of 249 Sqaudron’s brother Winston Churchill, and of tales of the dreadful
years of conflict. When the Fat Controller arrives and explains that 249 Squadron will become number 73 on Sodor, the last
two digits of his original number, things start to look brighter.
Next morning, the big engines are lined up as No.73 arrives
into the station, and in a fitting ceremony on Remembrance Day the Fat Controller reveals 73 is to become Sodor’s first
memorial engine; 697 Squadron.