ERS 45 - Mid Sodor Engines

ERS 45 - Mid Sodor Engines - Ryan & Fox

Originally, the plan had been to create one short story for an audio drama, which would have been a prelude to a Gallant Old Engine adaptation.  What came instead, were four outstanding stories based on real life events, released as both an Extended Railway Series volume and an audio drama.



Mike is undergoing heavy boiler repairs at Crovan’s Gate, and is parked up beside the Skarloey Railway sidings.  It makes for a timely reunion with old friend, Duke, who he had helped rediscover some years earlier – but also sparks a rivalry between himself and Sir Handel.  Duke then proceeds to tell them the story of Albert, the engine that Sir Handel replaced in the old days, and his fall from grace.  When supposed to stop for water, Albert, more concerned with reaching the Harbour in good time, refuses and uses the weight of the trucks to push him on.  He ends up making the ultimate mistake when he runs out of water, and incurs the Manager’s wrath...


A similar incident to this happened on the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Railway in 1922, when a complacent Driver allowed the locomotive Princess' tank to run low on water and damaged her firebox crown. Princess stood on a siding for many months and years and never worked again.



As young engines, Sir Handel and Peter Sam were raised on stories of Stanley and his downfall.  However, Duke finally delivers the full story of what truly happened to the legend – all down to rough riding, haste and shoddy workmanship on his manufacture.  After proving his huge unreliability, the Manager places Stanley on the ‘horse and cart’ service – but when he comes across a herd of sheep on the line whilst travelling at high speed, Stanley ends up tearing his frames apart whilst trying to stop in good time.  The Manager knows it will be an expensive repair – and so makes other arrangements – he can become a ‘pumping engine’ instead...


Based loosely on the 'frame break' that Dolgoch suffered in 1949, the poor riding qualities of the Baldwin 4-6-0's and of course, the Reverend W Awdry's own story. Happily, Dolgoch's frame was repaired and one Baldwin 4-6-0 is in steam today in the UK.



Probably one of the most popular of all the Extended Railway Series characters, Jim made his way into our hearts as an unlucky and unfortunate soul who couldn’t quite get it right.  After a series of unfortunate events that befall him, Jim thinks his luck has turned at last – only to discover that his ‘jinx’ has merely been lying dormant and waiting to strike with a vengeance.  On an icy winter’s day, he finds himself sliding along the tracks with a heavily loaded goods train and thrown off a sharp bend into the valley below.  The other engines fear the worst after what has happened to Stanley and Albert, but are pleasantly surprised to see Jim rebuilt and sold on to another railway to help pay for repairs to the Mountain Road section.


The story of Jim the Jinx is based on the real life event that claimed the Ffestiniog Railway's original Mountaineer, after it too was thrown from a stop block and landed further down the valley in 1876. Sadly, Mountaineer was never seen to work again, and was disposed of in 1879.  We felt however, that Jim should receive a happier ending to his working career on the Mid Sodor Railway!



Duke tells Mike of the slow, downward spiral that the Mid-Sodor Railway took toward closure – with the loss of services after the North Western Railway’s Peel Godred Branch Line opened.  The story goes through the loss of the boat services from the Isle of Man, the closure of the Mountain Road, the sale of other engines, and finally, the closure of the railway as the mines close up one by one.


This last act of the Mid Sodor Railway was based on the research conducted into the MSR's 'affairs', drawing upon a number of sources including The Island of Sodor, the MSR model railway as seen on Granpuff's 'Real Lives of Thomas' website - and of course, drawn upon from real life experience such as the Ffestiniog, the Corris and other little railways which were unfortunate not to make it in the end.