ERS 50 - The Useful Little Engine

ERS 50 - The Useful Little Engine - Ryan

This was the Forums’ 1st Anniversary ERS volume from 2003.  It was written over the course of a week, if I recall correctly, and the first story took me by surprise as it screwed with continuity very badly – claiming that the Fat Controller had been in charge for 50 years, which is impossible, as there have now been three Fat Controllers across three generations of the Hatt family.  Happily, I was given free rein to fix this one out for the V2 version, and amended a fair bit of the original, which badly needed it.



The new title was a deliberate attempt at humour.  The 50th Book in the Railway Series is being published, and a huge celebration is taking place at the Big Station, with many visiting engines returning to take part.  It’s here that Thomas meets Audrey, an engine that came from the Other Railway when Thomas and the others went to London in 1957.  She and Wilbert had stalled on Gordon’s Hill whilst double-heading a train from the Works Station, and had to be banked by Flying Scotsman!  This reminds Thomas of the time when he first arrived on the railway and encountered a similar problem himself!



Back in the early days of the railway, the Fat Director at the time has a problem with the lack of engines at his disposal to run the railway.  This means that Thomas has to be sent to other yards as and when required, and on this occasion, he is sent to Wellsworth to help realign some sidings.  This means Thomas also has to bank engines up the hill, which two of the early engines, , don’t think he’s capable of doing.  Whilst Thomas has very little trouble helping Edward over the top, Henry proves to be a bigger challenge, and he can’t manage.  87546 and 98462 blame Thomas for the failure and the little tank engine begins to think that he might not be up to the job...



Written by #~CaeSaR~# - Edits / Additional Dialogue by Ryan

This was about the first and only contribution made to any ERS volume by our first and founding administrator, Triple8 (aka. FatHatt / Caesar) who is now a bit more of a floating and occasional visitor on the current SiF.  Thomas is given the task of shunting trucks in the yard for some important goods trains, and uses it as a chance to redeem himself for his previous failure.  However, the trucks make life very difficult for him, and he breaks a coupling when trying to shift them out of a siding.  With some encouragement from Edward, he sets back to work feeling renewed, and when he hears of a train needing two engines at the Big Station, he rushes off to try and help.  But his eagerness comes untangled when he hits a set of points set against him.  To make matters worse, he finds himself in Edward’s path as he tries to pass with a train of logs.  The momentum of Edward’s sudden stop causes the logs to fall from the flatbeds and onto the track, causing an even bigger calamity.  Once again, Thomas is left in doubt about his future.



 Thomas is tricked by 87546 when shunting coaches to the platform, and is scolded again by the Fat Director.  But the truth is beginning to come out – when Edward is given the task of banking Henry up the hill, he finds that the big green engine was the reason for the failure of the train on the hill the last time around – not Thomas.  Edward decides to pay Henry out by telling the Fat Director the truth, but Thomas overhears part of their conversation and thinks that the Fat Director is cross with him again – so he decides to run away and hide out of sight.  The Fat Director is firm with Henry, and the two other big engines, and orders them to apologise to Thomas once he is found.  Edward goes to look for him in the sidings, and he and the Fat Director explain everything.  Thomas is relieved, and the Fat Director is convinced that one day, he will be a “Really useful engine indeed.”