ERS 166 - Mary & The Brendam Engines

ERS 166 - Mary & The Brendam Engines - Ian

This was on of those ideas that I had that I agonised over whether it would work or not. Making a brake van the centre character of a volume was unusual enough; regardless of the fact said brake van had only made a fleeting appearance in one previous volume. But by making the secondary characters so prominent, they helped ‘bridge the gap’ between old and new. If I had to choose a favourite from my volumes, I reckon this would be it.

Following her ‘accident’ and subsequent rebuild for China Clay excursion duties Mary has led a very quiet life; only Bill and Ben ever speak to her and that is usually only for the chance to tease. When a railtour brings visitors to the SCC Works, the twins allow their excitement and pride get the better of them, subsequently ignoring Mary’s warning over a fault with some points. They’re greatly abashed when they learn just how close to disaster they came, a situation that gives Mary the upper hand. Faults with points have happened all over the World, and the method of ‘Scotch and Clip’ is well practised to ensure trains can negotiate problem points successfully.


Mary suggests to a line of visiting tankers that Kaiser should be kicked in touch as soon as possible, before dropping the fireless engine a warning about the visitor’s intentions. Thinking she’s helped him, Kaiser mentions it to the other engines who are immediately suspicious. When BoCo later requires a brake van Mary thinks her chance to run again has come, but the trucks are cross with her for the trouble she caused and cause BoCo to derail her ‘accidentally on purpose’. With the truth out, Mary is once again left in disgrace.

A story of two parts this, starting off at the Wellsworth end of the line with some of the pitfalls that have befallen banking engines through the years. Jebediah’s sarcasm is annoying Emmeleia, and she’s furious when he mocks her for slipping to a stand on the hill. Meanwhile Mary once again tries to stir up trouble, suggesting a ploy to cause Douglas a mischief to the clay wagons; by pushing him beyond the signal at the junction. Fortunately for Douglas Toad has his suspicions and is able to help prevent a nasty accident by bringing the train to a stand before running onto the Main Line. When discussion reaches Wellsworth and Jebediah suggests showing Mary ‘who is boss’, it gives Emmeleia an idea how to pay the old crane out!

Jebediah’s mishap was inspired by an unfortunate incident from 2005, when a crane brought down the station footbridge at Codsall, Staffordshire, after the jib was left up. The conclusion of Mary’s story meanwhile was inspired by a site that can be seen at many farms and yards across the country; the use of old railway vehicles as storage. Left together in a siding, Mary and Jebediah’s bickering continues for several weeks, until such a time that she causes him to demolish part of Wellsworth station while assisting with canopy renewals. The Fat Controller decides that enough is enough and Mary is sent to the scrap yard where the owners use her as storage for odds and ends. Fearful at first, Mary ends the book suddenly filled with fresh hope that one day she will ride again…whether she will, you’ll have to wait and see.