ERS 91 - Pug the Saddle Tank Engine

ERS 91 - Pug the Saddle Tank Engine - Christopher

As with Jinty's “return” to the Railway Series, I knew that it wouldn't feel complete without bringing back Pug, another engine Percy remembered from the Other Railway. It was also a good chance to show more of another addition to the new ERS Library, giving a more logical explanation for “new” steam engines to pop in the the present day – the Hatt Steam Trust, where steam engines are rescued, restored and put to work by the Fat Controller for various Heritage Railways, as Jinty, Brad and others have been before.

Here we welcome Pug, a squat saddletank engine rescued from the scrap-lines when his work was overtook by Diesels. The Fat Controller has him mended and promises him a new home on a Heritage Line as soon as he can arrange it. For now, he helps Jinty at the Big Station, which is undergoing extension work with building a new marshalling yard. Jinty feels overworked, however, and complains of being “crane-shunted” anywhere. This theory is proven quite literally when a mistake has Jinty pushed off the rails and is “crane-shunted” back on the line by the Breakdown Gang!
The title of this story was a term used quite delicately by the Rev. W. Awdry himself to describe his personal thoughts on Season 3 of the television series, which swerved away from the original Railway Series stories and onto original material –
“The Producers seem to be, what I can only describe, 'crane-shunting' Thomas into a particular story or situation that concerns him or not!”

With Jinty out of action, Pug manages the shunting alone; but he doesn't mind this and enjoys the hard work hugely. During construction on the marshalling sidings, the engines rely on the Whistle Code to warn the workmen...Gordon can't help remembering how he fooled Sodor Castle into using the fictional “Express Whistle Code” when he first arrived, but laugh for long when a mishap at the Big Station nearly causes him to leave behind the Guard (again!) until Pug uses the Whistle Code to stop him in time!
This happened somewhere on the Somerset and Dorset Railway around 1962/3, when a Guard was stung on the hand by a wasp, and his frantic waving in pain (while still holding onto the green flag) seemed as though he was giving the “right away” to the Driver, who left him and some valuable luggage behind! Pug's tactic to stop Gordon, though, was completely fictitious.

This rather unusual but amusing incident occurred in America, 1847, and somehow it worked very nicely for this story. A trainee cleaner called Dudley causes grief for the Firelighter with endless jokes and pranks until Pug comes up with a plan to teach the lad a lesson. With careful planning and staging, he fools Dudley one night into thinking that he can drive himself, which scares Dudley out of playing jokes for good.
Almost based word from word on this recorded event, Dudley was based on a ticket clerk called George L Dunlap, who was brother and assistant superintendent to John S Dunlap. Of course, George Dunlap lived in the Railway Depot, with cardboard boxes and mail sacks for bedding, but I thought that was too much to use in the story!

In no time, both the new yard and Jinty are in working service, and the Fat Controller manages to find a Preservation Railway that would kindly take in Pug. But Pug still has one last adventure before leaving Sodor when heavy coastal storms causes Bear to break down with the Express, and Pug comes along to haul him to the safety of the Junction...where the Manager of the same Preservation Line witnesses the whole event on Bear's train and is delighted to take Pug on board!
Bear's incident has been one of several occurrences on the British Main Line where High-Speed Trains become “flooded” from costal storms.