ERS 165 - The Return Of An Old Friend

ERS 165 - The Return Of An Old Friend - Ryan

Following the release of the Jim the Jinx audio production in 2009, we were asked a few times if there were plans to bring Jim back into the ERS.  Fox and I deliberated upon the subject, and eventually, we both warmed to the idea.  Prior to this, SiF member – FlyingScotsman, had mooted plans to have a South African Garratt brought to Sodor with Richard Hatt, who had been working out there.  I thought this was a splendid idea, and with his blessing, I set the idea into motion.  It’s opened up worlds of opportunity to do more with the Jim character, as the Jim The Jinx novel is currently proving.



I had always wanted to bring a South African Garratt to Sodor at some point – and this was an ideal opportunity.  The Mid-Sodor Heritage Railway’s extension to Cas-Ny-Hawin is finally completed and Sir Handel, Peter Sam and Duke are all returning for the ceremony.  At first, Rognvald is cocky about being able to manage running the extension, and boasts he is the most powerful little engine on the Island.  That’s before Evan tells him all about the new engine at the Museum – a large South African Garratt, known as The Devil.  He becomes determined to show The Devil that he is just as capable of heavy work as any engine – and takes the opportunity to haul him down to Cas-Ny-Hawin for display.  But on the way, a van is left straddling the railway line, and Rognvald strikes it.  But despite the troubles that night – he’s still proud of his strength!  The story is partly based on an incident from the Isle of Man Railway, where No.4 Loch collided with a Transit Van on the 20th of May 2008.



Rognvald has developed a slight phobia of The Devil, and when the big Garratt mentions his ‘friend’ will soon be coming, and from the way The Devil describes him – he’s equally as fearsome.  But Sir Handel, Peter Sam and Duke seem to be familiar with the puffing noise coming from Crovan’s Gate, where this particular friend had been staying – although they are completely convinced that all engines from the old line had been scrapped years ago.  But when the Mid-Sodor Manager announces the presence of four engines from the past, they are most surprised – and the mystery engine is revealed to be Jim!



Duke and Jim have a heart-to-heart about the years they’ve spent apart.  Jim had been bought up by Richard Hatt whilst he was living in South Africa, and been brought back to live on Sodor once again.  But they are left wondering where Jim will be working – and Jim fears it may be on the Mid-Sodor, where his famous ‘jinx’ used to get the better of him.  And when Jim is asked to run a train up the line, he knows he will need his Granpuff’s guidance and help to see him through the journey – which Duke is only too happy to offer.



As Duke and Jim set out on their journey, there’s observation over how much things have changed in the intervening years.  But as they approach the Mountain Road, he begins to remember the fateful day when the trucks got the better of him, and the memories come flooding back.  But Duke notices that when they reach the point where Jim derailed and flew off the edge, he doesn’t even flinch.  At Ulfstead Road, Jim suddenly realises where he had passed, but Duke reminds him that it’s not the same Mid Sodor Railway anymore, he’s not the same ‘Jim’ that left all those years ago.  Jim is quietly appreciative that Duke is still the same old Granpuff though!  But when they return to Cas-Ny-Hawin, Jim finds that the Mid-Sodor won’t be his new home after all.  He and The Devil are going elsewhere!



Jim and The Devil leave the Mid-Sodor, but it’s not for the Skarloey Railway as Jim had predicted.  We flashback to when Jim and The Devil returned with The Tall Controller from South Africa, and the initial plans to build a railway exhibition on the island which fell through.  Then, we return to present day where Jim and The Devil are welcomed to their new home at the Vicarstown Railway Museum.  Jim is to become their first narrow gauge exhibit, whilst The Devil is due to undergo some repair work so that he can be returned to service for work on the Mid-Sodor Heritage Railway in future.