C. Reginald Dalby Mini-Site

Character Profiles

Character profiles of Flitterwick Harbour's inhabitants, written by J. Gratton

Dinger the storyteller
The ever-watchful Dinger

Dinger the Clock

Our 'storyteller', Dinger is a turret-clock that is part of the Town Hall at the port of Flitterwick. At the time of the book's writing (1956), Dinger claims to be about 150 years old, and professes to be Big Ben's uncle (Yes, that Big Ben!). In turn, Dinger also has an uncle who is 200. One must not seek to become too literal-minded in terms of just how this lineage came about!


Located on a tower near the jetty, Dinger has four clock faces with a vantage point that enables him to see and know what's going on for miles around in every direction. He often notices Mr. Lordly peering at him with binoculars from across the harbour in order to set the time. The other Flitterwick Harbour characters regale him with the day's adventures when they are docked close to him at night. Another factoid is that Dinger never sleeps, which comes naturally to a clock, I suppose.

Flip the Ferry
Flip the Ferry


In his role as a ferry-bridge, 'Flip' ferries traffic from the coast road on one side of the bay across to Flitterwick. Flip is equipped with a steel ramp on each end that is raised/lowered in order to take on or discharge vehicles. Flip enjoys frightening Sandy the sand-barge with forecasts of rough weather, especially when Sandy is headed out to sea with a heavy load of mud and sand.

Tubby the Tugboat and Tommy
Introducing Tubby the Tugboat and his Captain's son,Tommy


The main character of ToFH, Tubby is a harbour tug-boat, and is described as being a very strong, cheerful and willing worker. Tubby's services are always in great demand by cargo ship captains for safe passage into the harbour. The tug also enjoys singing to his charges as they are being towed in order to calm them down - especially Sandy.

Sandy and Donald
Sandy the Sand-Barge and Donald the Dredger


An engineless dredger equipped with a crane and large scoop. Donald is tasked with dredging the bottom of the harbour, and emptying each scoopful of mud and sand into Sandy the sand-barge. Donald relies on Tubby to be moved to and from work locations. Once, having endured enough of Tubby's teasing about his malodorous stench (caused by the mud), Donald paid him out by dropping a load of mud straight into Tubby's funnel! Other than that one incident, Donald and Tubby are good friends.


An engineless sand-barge who is loaded to capacity with mud from Donald's dredging. Once full, Sandy is towed out to sea by Tubby, where he dumps his load of sand and mud into the deep ocean. Sandy is often nervous about heading to sea with a full load, since his keel becomes very low to the water line. Sandy is also known to be a chronic complainer, with a rough and hoarse voice as if he had sand in his throat.


Strung outside the harbour in two long lines, the buoys are gossips, chatterers and love to joke around. They are prone to have bad-hair days, since they are often covered in seaweed. I guess that in the end, buoys will be buoys (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Percy Paddle
The Pride of Flitterwick a.k.a. 'Percy Paddle'

Pride of Flitterwick a.k.a. Percy Paddle

A pleasure steamer who commutes between Flitterwick and Swancombe. The ship is adorned in white, and crowned with a red-banded yellow funnel. Percy is conceited and rarely speaks with the other ships unless he is in an extremely good mood. Tubby envies Percy's looks and status.


Human Characters from Flitterwick Harbour
A few of the major characters from Flitterwick Harbour

The Harbour Master :Described as Tubby's real boss (akin to the Fat Controller's relationship is to his engines.)


Tubby's Captain: A peripheral character in in the stories.


Tommy: Tommy is the son of Tubby’s captain, and has a reputation for playing tricks.


The Mayor: Naturally, the Mayor of the town of Flitterwick. 


Mr. Lordly: A very proud, vain  and wealthy man living on the other side of the harbour. He sets all of the clocks in his house to Dinger's time. He's a  married father of a nine-year-old daughter named Jane. He is especially proud of his shiny new car. An impatient man who is always in a hurry, Lordly does not have a fondness for queues.