The Norramby Branch Line - Engines


Eagle was brought from the Midland region of BR in the mid 1950s, and based at Barrow for services on the Main Line and on the Norramby Branch Line.  A versatile performer, Eagle was used frequently upon passenger and goods duties on the Main Line, however, became used more and more frequently on services to Norramby and Crovan’s Gate exclusively. 


However, with Norramby Town Council seeking ways of attracting more tourists, they wanted a more regular steam presence in the yards to balance the use of the Diesel Multiple Unit service run.  This resulted in the arrival of Hunter, and the further unsettling of Eagle as more and more changes took place around him.  The two engines made up this quarrell, but Eagle continues to remain with the same characteristics of suspicion and reluctance to accept changes and newcomers - however, he is more willing to work around these traits than he was before.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: London, Midland & Scottish Railway
LOCO TYPE: LMS Ivatt 2MT Tender
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 65 - Hunter The Prairie Tank Engine
CURRENT LIVERY: LMS Crimson Lake, Black Lining
CREATOR: Ryan Healy

About the Character

Built at Crewe in 1946 for the LMS, Eagle was one of the first batches of Ivatt 2MT locomotives dispatched.  He arrived on Sodor in 1955, when the Fat Controller required an engine of his route availability for general duties and became based at Barrow where he has remained ever since.  Due to his size and weight, Eagle was viewed as a versatile acquisition, however, became most frequently rostered to the Norrmaby Branch Line and work between Crovan’s Gate and Barrow, however, Eagle would make infrequent runs to Tidmouth as and when required.


As a homage to the LMS, the Fat Controller placed Eagle in a new maroon livery, which he has carried ever since his arrival.  Very little changed throughout his lifetime, and from 1968 onward, he ran a joint passenger service with a BR DMU between Barrow and Norramby – becoming viewed as a seaside novelty attraction for the visitors from the Mainland.  This changed in 1996 when British Railways handed over control to First North Western, who continued to operate the same supplementary service, which was discontinued to allow the Fat Controller to bring Hunter, a Prairie Tank engine, to co-work the Branch.


Used to his own company, and slowly adjusting to the changes around him in the newly reinvigorated Norramby and the North Western Railway itself, Hunter’s arrival was not something that Eagle took to.  He proved exceptionally difficult to the newcomer, however, in the end, the two made up their quarrel and now work happily together – with Eagle now being used more frequently on Main Line services as well as his usual duties on the Norramby Branch.


In 2003, he was used to assist in the final push on the Ffarquhar Branch Line’s extension to Ulfstead – however, Eagle became somewhat temperamental during the Main Line runs, which meant he was exchanged with Edward, who completed the work necessary.


Eagle has been noted as being somewhat difficult, grumpy, reclusive and reluctant to embrace changes around him.  However, since Hunter’s arrival on the Branch Line, he has made more of an effort to socialise with the other engines through encouragement from both the Prairie Tank Engine and from Roger, one of the miniature engines.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Eagle is based on the LMS Ivatt 2MT 2-6-0 class of locomotive, designed by George Ivatt.  The locomotives were constructed between 1946 and 1953 for use on the Midland region and proved very successful in the tasks they were charged with.
The locomotives were withdrawn between 1961 and 1967 - and seven remain in preservation, with 46441 carrying a non-authentic maroon BR livery, which provided the inspiration for the livery that Eagle wears.


Hunter the Prairie Tank Engine

Hunter was built as a medium-sized tank engine to carry passengers on various routes around the Great Western Railway system.  He spent much of his working life in the South West of England, before being withdrawn in 1965.  After that, he was bought by a consortium who saved him for preservation and leased him to work at the same Museum site as Sodor Castle.


Hunter arrived on Sodor in 1999 and entered service in 2000, he is based at Barrow-in-Furness, and works primarily on the Norramby Branch Line, although has been moved temporarily if necessary to relieve other engines on other Branch Lines.

Important Information

 RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Great Western Railway
LOCO TYPE: GWR Class 51xx
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS 65 - Hunter The Prairie Tank Engine
CURRENT LIVERY: GWR Green, Orange/Black/Orange lining
CREATOR: Ryan Healy

About the Character

Hunter is a Large Prairie Tank Engine built by the Great Western Railway, originally based in the South West of England and used on stopping passenger and goods services.  He was withdrawn by British Railways in 1965, but bought by a member of the same consortium who bought Sodor Castle.  As such, they moved Hunter to the same Museum in the Midlands where the two became good friends.


Throughout his lifetime in preservation, Hunter was loaned repeatedly to various Heritage Railways to make up for steam shortages and to earn extra revenue for future overhauls and repairs, becoming a popular fixture at Gala Events and very rarely out of service for long.


However by 1997, the consortium who owned Hunter had acquired a sizably larger collection of engines, and they were looking to economise.  After initially giving first-refusal to the Museum (who rejected the offer on the grounds of cost), Hunter was later sold to the Fat Controller.  It is understood that his previous owners wished to concentrate upon restoring other engines who would be Main Line worthy and capable of running Rail Tours. 


Hunter worked out his boiler certificate at the Museum in 1999, and was given a ceremonious send-off at the end of the operating season.  He was then moved to Crovans Gate Works at the end of the year and given a full refurbishment.  In 2000, Hunter was ready and allocated work on the Norramby Branch line alongside Eagle.  After a difficult start, the two engines have worked well together ever since sharing mixed duties of passengers and goods.


A very strong and resourceful tank engine, as well as the Norramby Branch, Hunter is also used to help out alongside Donald, Douglas and Warrior on the Main Line as well as other Branch lines when necessary to relieve their workload.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Hunter is based on the 5101 class of Prairie Tank Engine, developed by Collett from a design by Churchward.  The engine Hunter is based on was built between 1930/31, and was subsequently scrapped after its withdrawal in 1965.
Around 10 members of the Large Prairie class survive in preservation today.