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Minor characters in The Railway Series

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The Railway Series by Reverend W.V. Awdry and Christopher Awdry is populated with many and varied characters. Some of these had only a few stories or pages devoted to them and, as such, they cannot be regarded as 'major' characters.

This page lists and profiles these characters using the same categories as the sister page, Major characters in The Railway Series.

Standard gauge engines

These are the characters that run on standard gauge (Template:4ft8.5in) railway track. They comprise the majority of Engines on the Island of Sodor.

'Sodor' engines

Neil

See: Sodor & Mainland Railway locomotives

Sixteen

Sixteen is a Hunslet 'Austerity' Class tank engine. He had no name. In the book Wilbert the Forest Engine, Wilbert (another Austerity) told a story about Sixteen, in which Sixteen worked in a steelworks and spent all day shunting trucks full of slag to take to a place called the 'tip' - a huge pile of waste. Engines were not allowed to travel along the track on the tip itself, as it was not firm enough to take their weight. However, one day Sixteen wished to be insolent, and told the trucks to drag him past the board. The ground beneath him gave way and he rolled down an embankment. He was rescued but not repaired, and remained in storage until bought by a preservation society, and he now works somewhere in the Midlands and mainly in the Mainland working with Sparky, Neville, Jinty and Stevie.

The Old Engine

The Old Engine is based on the GER Class Y14 and appears in the book Toby, Trucks and Trouble, in which he was rescued by Toby when that engine worked on the London and North Eastern Railway. The old engine was dirty and badly maintained, and suffered from steam leaks which made it hard for him to pull trains.

The Old Engine was an LNER Class J15. Again, the Old Engine is a nickname applied by fans, as the character was unnamed in the story.

Albert

Albert is a red Furness Railway J1 2-4-2 tank engine with a yellow FR on him who worked on the Lakeside branch, as seen in the book Thomas and Victoria, where his two coaches are Victoria and Helena. He is involved in an incident where snow falls on him as he sets off with gusto from Haverthwaite station which teaches him to take more care in wintery conditions.

The J1 class was rebuilt from the earlier E1 class of 2-4-0 tank engines of 1870, which were built originally by Sharp, Stewart & Co. Seven of these were rebuilt into J1s in 1891.

Rolling Stock

The Flying Kipper

The Flying Kipper is an overnight express freight train carrying fish from Tidmouth docks to London and elsewhere on the mainland. The train is usually pulled by Henry and comprises only four-wheel fish vans. The train features directly, or indirectly, in a number of stories in The Railway Series, and Henry is very proud to be responsible for such an important duty.

The Flying Kipper first features in Henry the Green Engine. It is a very snowy night, and a build-up of ice prevents a semaphore signal from returning to 'danger'. Unaware that the points ahead have frozen and are set the wrong way, Henry passes the signal and crashes into the back of a goods train, which had been shunted into a siding to let him pass. This is a significant incident in the story of Henry since it meant he was sent to Crewe to be repaired and modified, and came back literally 'a different engine'.

The train featured again in the book Really Useful Engines. Railway regulations state that all trains must carry a red light on the last vehicle, so signalmen know that the train is complete. In this story, Duck is being the banker for Henry as he tackles Gordon's Hill. Henry manages to pull ahead, but Duck's driver cannot see the tail lamp on the 'Kipper', and, as it is a very dark night, he is caught out when Henry slows down at the top of the hill - with the result that Duck crashes into the back of the train.

Duck is clearly shown to crash into a van, so by the time of that story the 'Kipper' was running as a 'fully-fitted' train (ie every van fitted with vacuum brakes), hence not requiring a brake van. The illustrations for the earlier stories give no clues whether a brake van is used or not, but in all cases the engine pulling the train shows the correct 'Class 4' headlamp code to indicate an express freight service.

The Flying Kipper makes another appearance during Henry's next major overhaul. In Henry and the Express, it is James who is asked to pull the train. After an incident where some crates are dropped on the track and James is splattered with fish oil, James comments that he hated The Flying Kipper because "you can't get the smell off your tender for weeks".

The Spiteful Brakevan

The Spiteful Brakevan is a brake van who appeared in book 15, The Twin Engines, in the story 'Break Van'. He took a dislike to Douglas and delayed his trains until Donald told him off. Later, he held James’s train back and Douglas had to help push the train up a steep hill. However, Douglas's efforts crushed the brake van into pieces, and subsequently it was not rebuilt.

The illustrations are based on a standard LNER brake van type.

Isabel, Dulcie, Alice and Mirabel

Isabel is an autocoach originally from the Great Western Railway. She has always worked with Oliver, and escaped with him and Toad to Sodor. She now works with him on Duck's branch line.

Her name comes from the fact that there "is a bell" on her, which she rings when she is happy. She travels coupled behind Oliver. When he is pushing ('propelling') her, he cannot see ahead, and so Isabel looks out for him.

When the Fat Controller reopened Duck's branch line, he had Isabel refurbished and bought three other autocoaches. One, Dulcie, runs with Oliver and Isabel. The other two, Alice and Mirabel, run with Duck.

Oliver once sang of Isabel and Dulcie, "If I did not look after them, they'd not know what to do." In fact, the opposite seems far more likely!

The coaches first appeared in Enterprising Engines.

Scruffey

Scruffey was a Private-Owner ballast truck owned by one S. C. Ruffey and based at Tidmouth. After Oliver had been pushed down a turntable well by trucks, Scruffey led the other trucks in singing rude songs about the accident. However, Toad the brake van (see below) had a plan to control the trucks, giving Oliver guidance on marshalling them two by two and Scruffey last and making sure he had sand on the rails to give him a good grip. When Scruffey told the other trucks to hold back he was pulled apart between them and Oliver. This wasn't so much a result of Oliver's strength as the fact that Scruffey suffered from rotten wood and rusty frames, and would probably have fallen apart anyway. This fact was kept from the other trucks, who now believe Oliver to be extremely strong, and not an engine to be antagonised.

He only ever appeared in Oliver the Western Engine in the story 'Toad Stands By'.

Toad the Brake Van

Toad the Brake Van is a 20-ton brake van from the Great Western Railway who was rescued by Douglas at the same time as Oliver and Isabel. In gratitude, he became Douglas' brake van. Unusually among the trucks, he is well-behaved and always has the greatest respect for engines and the orderly running of the railway. He always refers to engines as "Mr", calling Oliver "Mr Oliver" and Douglas "Mr Douglas".

His name comes from the fact that, on the Great Western Railway, brake vans were known by the telegraph code "Toad".[1]

Victoria

Victoria is a vintage Furness Railway 4-wheeled coach, who was formerly used on the Lakeside branch, in conjunction with Albert (an engine) and Helena, an identical coach. After she became obsolete, she moved to Sodor and became a summerhouse in a garden near Elsbridge station on Thomas's branch line. Discovered by Thomas' driver, it was decided that she could be restored and used on the tramway from Ffarquhar to Anopha Quarry, to help Toby and Henrietta. She also helps Thomas, Annie and Clarabel on busy days, too.

It appears that she is based on a 4-wheeled coach dating from 1882. As there is no evidence of this type recorded in use post-grouping, it seems likely that she moved to Sodor before 1923.

Helena

Helena is a Furness Railway 4-wheeled coach, who is identical to Victoria.

The Other Railway engines

Main article: The Other Railway Locomotives

Steam Engines:

  • The Foreign Engine (Big City Engine)
  • Jinty & Pug

Diesel Engines:

  • The Diesel
  • D199/199 Diesel/Spamcan
  • Bear
  • Old Stuck Up
  • The "Works Diesel"
  • Philippa (Pip) and Emma

Narrow gauge engines

As the name implies, narrow gauge railways have their rails closer together than standard gauge railways. There are three narrow gauge lines on Sodor : the Culdee Fell Railway (Template:2ft7.5in gauge); and the Mid-Sodor and Skarloey Railways (both Template:2ft3in gauge).

Culdee Fell Railway

Main article: Culdee Fell Railway Locomotives
  • Godred
  • Ernest
  • Wilfred
  • Culdee
  • Shane Dooiney
  • Lord Harry
  • Alaric
  • Eric
  • Rolling Stock:
  • Catherine
  • The Truck

Mid Sodor Railway

Main article: Mid Sodor Railway Locomotives
  • Duke
  • Falcon
  • Stuart
  • Stanley

Skarloey Railway engines

For the other Skarloey Engines, see Major Skarloey Engines

Ivo Hugh

Ivo Hugh first appeared in the final story of Volume 40 (New Little Engine), 'I Name This Engine', when his name was revealed.

Ivo Hugh was named after the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Skarloey Railway, and the naming of the engine was an idea by both all the engines on the Island of Sodor and the Director of the Railway, The Thin Controller.

Little is known about Ivo Hugh's personality, but it is known that he was built to help the engines with their workload. He is engine number 7 and later 10 on the Skarloey Railway since Fearless Freddie is number 7 too in the TV series.

Ivo Hugh is identical to Tom Rolt, an 0-4-2 Tank Engine on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales.

Duke

For the TV Series character, see: Duke (TV series)

Duke is the third-oldest engine on the island, after Skarloey (1864) and Rheneas (1865). He is a "George England"-type 0-4-0 tender/saddle tank locomotive. He was built at Boston Lodge in 1879, to the order of the Earl of Sodor, for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway (MSR) in 1880. The MSR Directors named him Duke in honour of the Earl, who was the company Chairman.

Duke was MSR engine number 1, and was painted in a brown livery. He is the only narrow gauge engine to have a tender, and, like the other MSR engines, has no buffers (in order to prevent buffers locking together on tight curves)

Being the oldest engine on the line, Duke liked everything to be "just so". Whenever something displeased him he would utter his catchphrase, "That would never suit His Grace". These characteristics prompted the other MSR engines, Falcon and Stuart, to give him the nickname "Granpuff", although secretly they had great respect for him.

When the assets of the Mid Sodor Railway were sold off after its closure in 1947, Duke was considered to be too old. Unsold, he was left oiled, greased, and tarpaulined in his shed. This was subsequently buried by a landslide, leaving Duke almost forgotten. Following his rediscovery in 1969 by the Fat Clergyman, the Thin Clergyman and the Small Controller (see the book Duke the Lost Engine), he was restored by the Skarloey Railway to be their 'number 8', although he still carries his MSR brown livery, rather than the red used on the other steam engines.

Duke first appeared in the book Duke the Lost Engine. His restoration was completed in Great Little Engines and he appeared in the illustrations of New Little Engine.

Prince, an older engine to the same design as Duke, may be seen working at the Ffestiniog Railway, and Rev. W. Awdry acknowledges in the foreword to Duke the Lost Engine that this is the basis of the character.

Fred

Fred is a diesel working on the Skarloey Railway. So far he has only had a brief mention in one story in the book New Little Engine. The book Sodor: Reading Between the Lines elaborates a little further, stating that the Skarloey Railway bought two worn out Hunslet diesels from the National Coal Board. Using parts from both engines, they constructed Fred.

He is the Skarloey Railway's number 9. Nothing is known about his personality.

Skarloey Rolling Stock

The Skarloey coaches are:

Ada, Jane and Mabel

Three open carriages. They came from the Mid Sodor Railway in the book The Little Old Engine. They were originally designed for carrying quarry workers, but are now used for tourist traffic. Since their arrival, they have had roofs fitted. They were once honoured to be used by a television crew filming on the railway.

Agnes, Ruth, Lucy and Jemima

These four coaches have served the Skarloey Railway, and are named after Sir Handel Brown's daughters. Sir Handel the engine, however, referred to them as "cattle trucks", which made him very unpopular with them. Agnes is a first class carriage, and looks down on the others, who are third class. She appears to be their leader, and has a deep voice. They first appeared in Four Little Engines, and have appeared in every Skarloey Railway-centred volume since.

Beatrice

Beatrice is a guard's van, usually coupled behind Agnes, Ruth, Lucy and Jemima. Like them, she is named after one of Sir Handel Brown's daughters. The coaches look down on her, and claim that she "smells of fish and cheese". She is, however, very useful. She has a ticket booth and an emergency buzzer, and sometimes even carries passengers when the coaches are full. She too has appeared in every Skarloey Railway-centred volume.

Cora

Cora is another guard's van. She came from the Mid Sodor Railway in The Little Old Engine and, unlike Beatrice, earns her keep on maintenance and goods trains.

Gertrude and Millicent

Sir Handel considered Gertrude and Millicent the only 'proper' coaches on the Skarloey Railway. They too came from the Mid Sodor Railway, where they formed that line's express service. Unlike the other coaches, they run smoothly on bogies.

They first appeared in The Little Old Engine.

Miniature railway engines

The Arlesdale Railway (or the Small Railway) is the miniature railway on Sodor. With a gauge of only Template:15in – just over half the width of the narrow gauge railways – this line could be regarded as a minimum gauge railway.

Arlesdale Railway

Main article: see Arlesdale Railway Locomotives
  • Mike, Rex and Bert – the original steam engines brought over from the mainland
  • Jock – a new steam engine, built at the railway
  • Frank – a diesel engine

Real Engines featured in the Railway Series

City of Truro

The famous GWR engine City of Truro visits the Island of Sodor, at the beginning of Duck and the Diesel Engine (volume 13 of The Railway Series), with a special train for the 'Railway Society'.

Duck talks 'Great Western' all night with City of Truro, which makes Duck very proud of his GW ancestry, much to the annoyance of the other engines.

He is mentioned in Thomas and the Great Railway Show as one of the engines Thomas meets at the National Railway Museum.

City of Truro also appears in the TV Series, albeit in a rather less significant role.

Flying Scotsman

Flying Scotsman is given a major role in the 23rd book of the series, Enterprising Engines.

Henry becomes jealous of Flying Scotsman's two tenders, and comes unstuck when he tries to copy by towing a line of old tenders used for storing boiler sludge.

Talyllyn & Dolgoch

Talyllyn and Dolgoch are the real life prototypes of Skarloey and Rheneas. Indeed, every engine on the Skarloey Railway in the Railway Series has a similar counterpart on the Talyllyn Railway, with the exception of Duke, which was based on Prince from the Ffestiniog Railway. They were never featured in stories, but mentioned in several volumes. Through these stories, the Reverend Awdry encouraged readers to visit the Talyllyn Railway.

Stepney

Stepney is a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway A1 Class 'Terrier' 0-6-0T tank locomotive. He appears in Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine (vol 18 of the Railway Series) on a visit from the Bluebell Railway.

Stepney is named after the area of London (Stepney), as were many of the Terrier locomotives. He is painted in the attractive yellow ochre locomotive livery of the LB&SCR, perversely called Stroudley's Improved Engine Green.

Following adventures with a 'Special' (train) and a cricket match, Stepney is asked to help Duck pull diesel D4711's train, after the diesel has inhaled the Inspector's bowler hat. It is at the beginning of this journey that Stepney gives Duck his advice about using sand to get a good start, referred to in later books in the series: "...as they backed down, they dropped sand on the rails, rolling it firm with their wheels"

The Rev W. Awdry originally wrote Stepney into the series as a means of publicising the Bluebell Railway, and encouraging readers to support the fledgling railway preservation movement in the UK.

Stepney also appears in the TV Series, although his story is somewhat different from that in the books.

The Bluebell Engines

The 'Bluebell Engines' were only mentioned in the story 'Stepney's Special', from the 18th volume of The Railway Series, Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine. These engines are Bluebell, Primrose, Adams, Cromford and Captain Baxter.

Engines at the National Railway Museum

In the 35th Volume of The Railway Series, Thomas and the Great Railway Show, Thomas is sent to the National Railway Museum in York as a representative of Sodor. Among the real engines he meets there are Rocket, Iron Duke, Boxhill, Green Arrow, Duchess of Hamilton and Mallard.

Wilbert

Wilbert the Forest Engine was featured in book 38 of The Railway Series. He is a real engine from the Dean Forest Railway who was so named in 1987 after the Author of the Railway Series, The Rev. W. Awdry. In gratitude for this, Christopher Awdry wrote a volume featuring the engine, Wilbert the Forest Engine.

Wilbert is a strong, six wheeled saddle tank engine with dark blue paint, red linings and red nameplates with gold writings on both sides. He is friendly and resourceful, and loves the opportunity to show his paces with a good long run. He is also one of the few engines to gain the trucks' instant respect.

He was originally supposed to help Duck and Oliver on their branch line, but when Percy had an accident he was diverted to Thomas' branch line. He quickly made friends with the other engines, and the trucks quickly learnt to respect his great strength.

HE 3806 wilbert

The "real" Wilbert

The real Wilbert was originally a shunter at a colliery in Staffordshire, built in 1953. He was working until 1976, when the Dean Forest Railway bought him. In 1981 he was given the name G. B. Keeling, but in 1987 he was renamed Wilbert after the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, the creator of the Railway Series books and then president of the Railway. In 1983, he was honoured to haul a Royal Train for the Duke of Gloucester and in 1991 he attended the opening of the line to Lydney Lakeside with City of Truro. He is popular with children visiting the line, but is currently out of service awaiting an overhaul.

Non-Rail Characters

George the Steamroller

George is a grumpy steamroller and no friend to railway engines. His motto is "Railways are no good, pull them up, turn them into roads!" and enjoys doing it. He is unfriendly to all engines, even the ones who try to be pleasant towards him. He once had an accident with Sir Handel, and managed to upset Daisy by threatening to build a road over her rails and leaving a traffic cone for her to run over.

George is based on an Aveling and Porter steamroller owned by the Rev. W. Awdry's friend Rev. 'Teddy' Boston, who also owns the traction engine on which Trevor the Traction Engine is believed to be based.

He appears in Gallant Old Engine and Thomas Comes Home.

George also appears in the TV Series, see George the Steamroller (TV Series).

Caroline the car

Caroline the car is an old, small car who belongs to the Elsbridge Cricket Team on the Island of Sodor. We first meet her when she has to chase Stepney after he chuffed away with the cricketers' ball, which landed in one of his trucks. Caroline didn't like that at all, because she has a sensitive engine, which will easily overheat or break down when she exceeds her usual speed. Although she used to think steam engines were silly, she admitted that "they have their uses" after Stepney was able to help her home. She always refers to her driver as "Master".

Caroline appears to be based on a Morris Oxford.

She appeared in Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine.

Bulgy

Bulgy was a red and cream double-decker bus who hated railways and had very left wing political views. He tried to steal Duck and Oliver's passengers by pretending to be a railway bus, but ran into trouble with his attempt at a shortcut - he got stuck under a low bridge. His lies never improved, and eventually people wouldn't even believe his destination boards. He is now a henhouse by Duck's branch line.

He appeared in Oliver the Western Engine.

Bulstrode

Bulstrode was a highly disagreeable barge who carried stone. He liked nothing more than making life difficult for the engines and trucks, sometimes even blaming them for his mistakes. He got his comeuppance one day when a row of trucks came off the end of his quay and landed in his hold, causing him to sink. After this, he was towed to a nearby beach and is now played upon by children.

He appeared in Toby, Trucks and Trouble.

'Human' Characters

Lord Harry Barrane

Main Article: Lord Harry Barrane (Culdee Fell Railway)

The Fat Clergyman

The Fat Clergyman is a portrayal of the (late) Rev. Edwin Richard 'Teddy' Boston, a well-known railway enthusiast and traction engine owner.

See also: Cadeby Light Railway – which was in the Rev. Boston's 'back garden'.
See also: Trevor the Traction Engine – which was based on the Rev. Boston's own engine, "Fiery Elias".

The Thin Clergyman

The Thin Clergyman is the Rev. W Awdry himself!

Jem Cole

Jem Cole is the driver of Trevor the Traction Engine, at least until Trevor is sent to the scrapyard, and there sold to the Vicar of Wellsworth, the Rev'd Charles Laxey (in the story Saved from Scrap, in Edward the Blue Engine). Christopher Awdry noted that, although the books do not specifically say as much, it is a safe assumption that, after the purchase, the vicar continued to employ Jem's services when a driver for Trevor was required.


Jeremiah Jobling

Jeremiah Jobling is a passenger on James's train in the story, James and the Boot-lace. When a hole in the brake pipe causes the train to stop, James's guard asks the passengers for a leather boot-lace, so that the driver can mend the leak. Jeremiah Jobling, who wore a bowler hat (which helped to identify him in the pictures), initially hid his feet from the guard. When Jeremiah refused to hand over his leather boot-lace, the guard said the train would stay put and the other passengers told Jobling he was a Bad Man. Reluctantly, Jobling then gave his laces, the driver tied a pad of newspapers tightly round the hole and James was able to pull the train.

The Small Controller

The Small Controller is known as Mr. Fergus Duncan and works on the Arlesdale Railway. He first appears in the book Small Railway Engines.

The Thin Controller

Main article: Thin Controller (Skarloey Railway)

The Thin Controller is the nickname for the manager of the Skarloey Railway.

Sidney Hever

Main article: Sidney Hever

Sidney Hever is Edward's Fireman and is named in the introduction to Edward the Blue Engine in which he is regularly named not just as "Edward's Fireman" but as Sid in conversations between Charlie Sand, Edward's Driver.

Mrs Kyndley

The appropriately named Mrs Kitty Kyndley appears in the books Toby the Tram Engine and Thomas' Christmas Party. She is a great friend to the engines, and once saved Thomas and Toby from an accident by warning them of a landslide.

Nancy the Guard's Daughter

Main article: Nancy the Guard's Daughter (Skarloey Railway)

Nancy used to polish the Skarloey Railway engines, and appeared in several stories.

Mr Walter Richards

Main Article: Mr Walter Richards (Culdee Fell Railway)

Charlie Sand

Main article: Charlie Sand

Charlie Sand is Edward's Driver and is named in the introduction to Edward the Blue Engine in which he is regularly named not just as "Edward's Driver" but as Charlie in conversations with Sidney Hever, Edward's Fireman.

Other Humans

  • Sir Handel Brown I (Skarloey Railway Owner #1)
  • Sir Handel Brown II (Skarloey Railway Owner #2)
  • Mr. Ivo Hugh (Skarloey Railway Engineer)
  • Mr. Mack (Skarloey Railway Controller #1)
  • Mr. Bobbie (Skarloey's builder & engineer)
  • Kathie & Lizzie (Tallylyn Railway volunteers)
  • Mrs. Last (late-arriving passenger in Four Little Engines)
  • Willie (Farmer – Seen in Useful Railway)
  • Mr. Crowe (Farmer – Mentioned in Ghost Train)
  • Bert (Engine washer – Seen in Leaves)
  • Alf (Engine washer – Seen in Leaves)
  • Bert (Porter – Seen in Buzz Buzz)
  • Fred (Porter – Seen in Buzz Buzz)
  • Patrick (Rock climber – Seen in Devil's Back)
  • Duke of Sodor (Seen in Duck 'n' Dukes)
  • Royal Personage (Seen in Golden Jubilee)
  • New Lorry Driver (Seen in Mavis and the Lorry)

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