This is another personal favourite of mine, written mainly to meet the demands
of fans for a very popular character in the RWS...here we see not only development in Duck, Oliver and James but also for
other little-used locations for storytelling such as Arlesburgh Port and Wellsworth (Edward's Station). And we also welcome another new character into the mix, Jebediah the grumpy Steam Crane.
As demonstrated in Christopher Awdry's Really
Useful Engines book, Duck acts as a “Back Engine” for heavy trains up Gordon's Hill. James feels that he
doesn't need help and actually does very well so far – until one day a nasty jolt damages his tender tank, but manages
to struggle onto Maron before allowing Duck to help him the rest of the way. After that, James respects Duck's help, and Duck
in turn respects James for doing the best he can.
Ironically, James's incident was based from an Annual Story by Chris
Awdry, Funnel Trouble, where it was Duck that suffered a bad jolt and leak where he was rescued by Oliver. Of course,
it served nicely as a basis to alter to my needs.
Fat Controller rescues and restores a collection of brake vans to be used on the Branch Lines. But one of these newcomers
is very indignant of being part of a goods train and earns his nickname of being a “Young Turk” (a young person
who is difficult to handle). Turk soon tries the trucks's patience, where they break a coupling and leave him behind in a
dark, damp tunnel. It's many hours later when Duck rescues the unhappy van, who promises never to complain again.
real-life event occurred in England 1840, which concerned a passenger train rather than a goods, when a Lord and his coach
were left behind in Balcombe Tunnel on the London to Brighton Line – suffice to say, he chose never to travel by train
The Port beyond Arlesburgh Station
on Duck's Line is undergoing major overhauling, with many piers updated, strengthened or torn down in the process. Duck is
called there to help with shunting, but finds any available space difficult with the work going on. He makes the mistake of
leaving some scrap trucks on a seemingly empty pier, its rotting supports already undermined. Too late, Duck realises this
as the pier collapses, taking its “load” with it. Duck fears the worse until he learns that that pier was going
to be torn down anyway, and he saved the Dock Worker's another days work!
Some years before the Television Series brought in their own steam crane (Rocky), I felt
that the Fat Controller's railway would do well to have one of their own, as they proved so very useful long after Beeching's
Modernisation Plan was in full swing. In fact, Heritage Lines like the Bluebell have one or two of their own, which are used
for track maintenance or public displays for visitors.
Duck arrives at Edward's Station one day to discover a very old,
rusty steam crane called Jebediah – the most cantankerous old crank Duck has ever known when he tries to be friendly.
He is cross long afterwards and reckons that he is only fit for scrap. He regrets these harsh words when he discovers from
Edward that “the Fat Controller's sorted him out”, and suddenly feels sorry...but some months later, he is surprised
and delighted to find Jebediah back at Wellsworth, completely restored to his former glory and in working steam again. The
old crane still lives at Edward's Yard to this day and though he still grumbles, he couldn't feel happier in his new home.