ERS 179 - More Coaches, Trucks and Engines

ERS 179 - More Coaches, Trucks & Engines - Ian

Although not intended as a follow on volume, this one takes the same style as one of my earliest contributions to the library - #096. This format allows for one off stories which may not fit into continuous story type volumes, as well as allowing lesser characters starring roles.



This story was inspired by a single photograph taken on a visit to the Snowdon Mountain Railway, during the rebuilding of their summit station. To move rubble down the mountain, two small skips were anchored onto a flatbed truck. Here, a workmen’s shelter half way up the mountain collapses, leaving the men with the problem of how to move the rubble away and take materials up to rebuild it. In the end it is The Truck, making her first speaking role since her introduction in Awdry days, who suggests using Rocky the Skip Lorry’s skip in the manner explained above. Norman and Betty, the railway’s diesels, make up the character list.



As much as I love the carriage fleet on the Skarloey Railway, having Agnes as the only protagonist always bugged me. Penny and Rhydian, whom I introduced in volume #88 ‘Maintenance Engines’, find themselves being upgraded to First Class vehicles to help the tired Agnes- much to her displeasure. To make matters worse Penny delights in gloating at her poor old worn-out rival- upsetting all the other carriages in the process. It’s down to the quiet, shy Rhydian to bring Penny’s showing off to an end, by telling the Tall Controller a secret Penny would much rather have kept under wraps!



Oliver teases Douglas when the big engine has an accident, causing some nasty damage to Toad in the process. Toad is cross with Oliver and lets slip to Douglas that Oliver isn’t quite so innocent as he sounds. The wily Douglas uses this to coax Oliver into telling the story of the time on his old line when he tried to shunt his trucks with a length of rope- only to run into the train in error and cause a derailment. The much frowned on technique- known as ‘tow-roping’- is told in the story exactly as it was performed on many a country branch line in days gone by.



The final chapter concentrates on more characters who - until now - had yet to speak in the series. The museum coaches, built to the same design as Victoria, tell their friend Warrior how sad they feel never to leave the confines of the museum. Elsewhere, a fault with Henrietta’s buffer sees both she and Victoria derailed on the tramway. With Toby needing to borrow some coaches while his are mended, Warrior knows exactly who to volunteer. Although not based on a specific incident, jammed buffers causing derailments were not unheard of in steam days - or indeed modern times.