ERS 59 - Sodor Castle The Western Engine

ERS 59 - Sodor Castle The Western Engine - Ryan

The original Sodor Castle book was written far too hastily in 2003, when we had the original ERS underway.  The stories were light-weight and the character wasn’t given the development he was due.  This gave me an opportunity to set things right and make the character a lasting staple of the ERS proper.  So, through use of many real life sources, I built upon the character and produced a set of newer, better and stronger tales to push things forward again.



This story was set roughly around 1998, meaning Gordon had been out of commission for two years undergoing a lengthy and protracted rebuild.  The original story was scrapped entirely in favour of covering an incident which took place in 2008, when Tornado was being given her first steam test with her new boiler.  The engine exhausted the water supply and the men were worried about doing damage to the boiler with dry heat inside the engine.  They came up with a very clever solution in the end – call the Fire Brigade and get water quickly that way!  This story is basically Wendell the Works Diesel recanting a similar incident taking place at Crovan’s Gate, only this time, it’s Gordon having his new boiler tested with the same embarrassing result.



The Jacobite service from Fort William to Mallaig is a popular day out for tourists and enthusiasts, but at the same time, it has proven to have a wealth of storytelling material for the Extended Railway Series as well.  This story is adapted from the trials and tribulations faced by passengers at Mallaig station, who were frequently attacked by seagulls, as they left the train.  The engines are finding work at the junction difficult as seagulls prove to be a bit of a menace there.  The matter is soon resolved as Brad is attacked by a flock of birds whilst shunting some trucks from a siding, which leads Sodor Castle to believe that that might be where the gulls have been nesting!  The Station Staff are very surprised to find some little eggs and hatchlings in one of the sidings, and choose to kindly leave the birds alone until they outgrow the nests and quietly move on, out of the way of the passengers and engines.



This was deliberately given the same title as a television episode, mainly because it fits the profile so well.  There is no real life precedent for this story at all, however, it’s based on the V1 storyline, where Henry spooks Sodor Castle with a ghost story.  In this story, I came up with a different idea all together – to do with the construction of Henry’s tunnel.  Henry’s Driver claims that an engine had a dangerous accident in the tunnel which brought the roof down and led to his scrapping... and now he still haunts the tunnel.  Conveniently, the tunnels are undergoing maintenance and Sodor Castle’s express run is due to pass through them.  Sodor Castle has an opportunity to see what’s happening owing to a ‘steam leak’ and sees that the work is going on – and there’s certainly no ghosts about.  Henry follows shortly after, not knowing that Sodor Castle is due to return early, and that work at the tunnel has stopped to allow him to pass.  Henry is given a huge scare when the floodlights reignite as he passes through the tunnel, remerging as a silhouetted ghost against the fog and smoke.



This story was a mixture of old and new.  The original story had Sodor Castle encountering problems with an uppity GWR King locomotive, who finally got his comeuppance.  This was redeveloped based on the experiences of Anthea Hanscombe, who had given an interview to BBC Radio 4, which Troublesome Truck had posted on YouTube.  The storyline is basically Sodor Castle going to the Works for repair and meeting an old engine, who is in for restoration, and telling him of the time he got one over on the engine, King Charles II, by ‘racing’ him to the terminus station.  It’s also the first time that we unofficially meet Kaiser the Fireless Engine, who is formally introduced in Book 63 of the same name, although in this instance, Kaiser’s identity remains somewhat ambiguous.


You can hear Anthea's interview with Radio 4 by clicking here