The Kirkronan Branch Line - Engines

Kirkronan Branch Line Engines

Gwen

Gwen arrived on Sodor during WWI after volunteering her services to assist with the war effort, and was immediately posted to the Kirk Ronan dock.  However, an administrative error occurred during the drafting of the loan papers, and the Fat Director had her stay on the North Western Railway after peace was declared. 


Gwen has worked exclusively at the Kirk Ronan docks for her entire stay on Sodor, and she is the longest-serving engine on the branch line. .

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Midland Railway
LOCO TYPE: MR 1116A
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 161 - Midland Railway Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1916
BR POWER RATING: 0F
BR NUMBER: N/A
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: MR Lined Maroon
CREATOR: Kyle Nicholas

About the Character

Built at Derby in 1893 as the 6th member of the first batch, Gwen was an enthusiastic worker and happily trundled around her work until she was displaced when larger shunters arrived in 1907. 


After hearing that engines were required to assist with defending the Western Coast during WWI, Gwen immediately offered her services; in both an attempt to be patriotic and to get away from the engines that had superseded her. She was immediately posted at the Kirk Ronan docks to assist to resident tank engines of the line, together with several Furness Railway engines that were also loaned during the war. 


Following the armistice Gwen was requested to return to the Midland Railway, but a flaw in the conditions of the lease was uncovered and the Fat Director had the tank engine stay on, much to Gwen’s delight. 


 Her friendly nature has allowed her to make many friends, but a firey streak has also caused problems at times; including being a factor in an ongoing feud between herself and Alex, following an incident at the docks. She takes pride in her work but is not above having a bit of fun, provided it doesn’t cause delays or problems! 


 In recent years larger loads pushed Gwen to the limits of her power, and an incident with Croc saw her fail and fear for her future. However, she returned from the Works more powerful than ever, and a thawing of tensions between herself and Alex have seen the Kirk Ronan docks become a much more pleasant place to work!

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Gwen is based on the Midland Railway 1116A class of locomotive designed by Samuel W. Johnson. These locomotives were constructed in two batches; 5 in 1893 and another 5 in 1897 at Derby Works. 


Designed for shunting, these locomotives led surprisingly long lives, the last still working until 1955 before being sent away for scrap. Unfortunately none were preserved.

Simon

Simon

During World War I the North Western Railway relied heavily on engines borrowed from the Midland and Furness Railways to carry out the duties required of it in the defense of the British Coastlines. Many engines were loaned, however by the early 1920s most had returned to their respective homes. 


Simon was one of the engines that was retained and originally ran on the Main Line hauling secondary goods trains, until newer diesel engines replaced him. He is now found on the Kirkronan branch line working alongside his fellow Midland Railway compatriots Alex and Gwen.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Midland Railway
LOCO TYPE: MR "3815" 3F
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 144 - Simon the Midland Engine
DATE OF ENTRY: 1916
BR POWER RATING: 3F3P
BR NUMBER: N/A
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: MR Lined Maroon
CREATOR: Kyle Nicholas

About the Character

Built at Derby in 1908, Simon was one of the final engines of his class to be built for the Midland Railway, although he didn’t get to see out a full decade before being loaned to the North Western Railway to assist with the War Effort. His strength and youth found him at home with the main line goods trains, although his mood swings caused him to have some difficulties settling in. 


Following the cessation of war Simon was asked by Sir Topham Hatt to stay back and continue assisting with the goods work and, although there was some reluctance from the Midland Railway, a deal was soon struck. 


Throughout his time on the Main Line Simon never received much spotlight, nor did he pursue it; remaining happy to carry out his secondary goods trains with little fuss.  However, he did receive some attention during his assistance with the early stages of the newly-formed Peel Godred branch line, in which he aided construction.  He completed work on secondary goods trains effectively for many years, although this work began to dry up following the arrival of several goods diesels. 


By the 1970s Simon found himself completely superceded, and the Fat Controller ordered his transfer to the Kirk Ronan branch where he received a cold welcome from the branch line’s main occupant, Alex. However, he quickly established a rapport with the dockyard shunter Gwen, which only served to make his and Alex's early relationship all the more rocky. 


After some time Simon, however, was able to win Alex over and the two engines have gone on to run the line together for many years – although not without the occasional incident, including having to fend off a group of overzealous environmentalists. 


Oddly, Simon has appeared in the Railway Series previously, although only by accident. When Henry first refused to leave the Ballahoo Tunnel it was Simon who was called upon to rescue him. Unfortunately, the artist became confused and mistook him for James, who then appeared in the illustration; a fact the two engines can argue over from time to time!

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Simon is based on the Midland Railway “3815” 3F 0-6-0 class of locomotive by Samuel W. Johnson which included alterations by Richard Deeley. Only 20 “3815s”, the final of a long progressive line of 3F 0-6-0 designs, were built. 


Constructed in 1908, these locomotives proved to be very successful, with the last example being withdrawn in 1962. Sadly, none survive today.

Alex

Alex

Alex was loaned from Midland Railway during World War I to assist the NWR’s critically low locomotive stocklist, and assisted with passenger workings while the stronger engines carried out the trains directly involve in the war effort. 

However, his rough riding quickly saw him transferred following armistice, and he has served this line ever since. Today his rough riding ways have been corrected, and he works with the fellow Midland Railway engines Simon and Gwen to serve the towns of Rolf’s Castle and Kirk Ronan.

Important Information

 RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Midland Railway
LOCO TYPE: MR 2000
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 144 - Simon the Midland Engine
DATE OF ENTRY: 1916
BR POWER RATING: 3P3F
BR NUMBER: N/A (MR NUMBER: 2040)
CURRENT STATUS: Operational
CURRENT LIVERY: MR Lined Maroon
CREATOR: Kyle Nicholas

About the Character

Alex was built in the second batch of 2000 Tanks, and originally numbered 2040. Known to be rough riding, when the NWR needed locos during WWI, the Midland Railway quickly offered Alex’s services – much to the objections of Alex at the time! 


After the war was over the NWR did offer Alex back to his home railway, to which the MR declined – hence, he was taken into the stocklist (after a reimbursement to the MR). He continued to display rough riding qualities, and was quickly transferred to a branch line (Kirk Ronan). However, after Stanier found that adding side pads and “through spring” controlling arrangements significantly improved the running of his classmate, the Fat Director quickly went about organising an identical alteration to Alex. 


Alex’s classmates were scrapped by the LMS shortly after his bogie conversion, and when he was exposed to this fact by the newly-arrived Douglas several decades later he developed a paranoid tendency to believe that they would “come to finish the job” and dispose of him to remove all of the “Flatirons” from existence. 


 It was also during this era that a feud erupted between Alex and Gwen, after Alex framed Gwen for an accidental still of paraffin at the docks, with tensions lasting for over half-a-century before Alex admitted fault. Although the two engines aren’t close, they are no longer at each others’ throats as constantly. 


After Simon was transferred to the Kirk Ronan Branch in the 1970s, Alex was originally hostile towards him; due to their shared Midland origins he was convinced that Simon had been sent to finally dispose of him. However, Simon eventually won the large tank engine over, and the two grew to like each other. 


Alex still suffers from Panic Attacks and bouts of paranoia, but he is a dedicated worker and will do anything to help a friend (provided he doesn’t think that the friend is out to scrap him at the time!).

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Alex is based on the Midland Railway 0-6-4T 2000 (“Flatiron”) class of locomotive, designed by Richard Deeley. The locomotives were constructed from 1907 in two batches, numbering 2000-2019 and 2020-2039. 


These locomotives proved to be problematic, tending to “nose” when running at speed, with the class also suffering several derailments. William Stanier attempted to rectify the problem by altering the trailing bogie and, although successful, further conversions were not pursued. All were withdrawn by 1938 and none survive in preservation.