If I recall correctly, this book took me quite a while to write, and it was only with Christopher’s
encouragement and help that it was eventually completed. At the time, I was going
through a creative drought, and the Extended Railway Series was not entirely inspiring to write for. However, it stands up as a solid piece of work as time has gone on, and I’m still proud of it to
ONE LAST TIME
I can recall writing this story in 2005 or 2006, when I had a quiet night in after University. At this point, I had been out of the loop with the ERS stuff and was creatively drained,
but still wanted to create this two-part ERS piece. Nonetheless, I persevered
and wrote the first story which saw Sodor Castle struggling prior to an overhaul. On
his last Express service, he has to be rescued by Edward and helped over the top of Gordon’s Hill and on to The Works
Station. They arrive to find that one of Sodor Castle’s former owners,
Mr Marriott has been onboard and is willing to sponsor his overhaul – in return for Sodor Castle’s participation
in a set of Rail Tours he’s planning.
SAD STORY OF SODOR CASTLE
This story draws
a great deal from that of Pendennis Castle, which when running one of its final services in the 1960s, suffered a major calamity
when the locomotive’s firebars began to melt whilst the crew attempted a high speed run.
The same thing happens in this story, as Sodor Castle attempts to go out in a blaze of glory following his days of
British Railways service, he ends up having his firebars melt, and ends up forfeiting his run.
Sodor Castle is laid to one side and placed with a number of other engines for disposal. However, good fortune shines upon him and he is found by a museum group who want to restore him to full
REVIVAL OF A LEGEND
story was driven by Christopher’s idea. Sodor Castle is back in service,
but does not have the privilege to run Main Line Rail Tours like some of the other engines – such as the smug and uppity
Flying Fox. It’s here that Sodor Castle is rejoined with his old friend,
Hunter the Prairie Tank, who tricks Flying Fox into overheating himself prior to running his Rail Tour. This leaves the door wide open to Sodor Castle to take the reins and save the day, leading to him being
promoted to a fully fledged Rail Tour Engine.
Surprisingly enough, in
the big winter of 2009/2010, life imitated art. After a commuter service broke
down in the bad weather, Tornado was given the task of taking over the train and got passengers home. I wrote this story in 2006 or 2007 to complete this book, and had the same thing happen with Sodor Castle
taking over a passenger service when completing a Rail Tour. It’s here
that he meets the eye of Sir Topham Hatt III, who snaps him up for his Steam Trust, and as the first new steam engine to join
his railway since Oliver. He says goodbye to the Museum, and at the end of the
story, says goodbye for a while to his friends on Sodor as he sets off on a whole new adventure on the Other Railway!