The Vicarstown Railway Museum - Engines & Rolling Stock


A big part of keeping the museum running, Rollo is often seen helping to shunt the museum engines out and about the roundhouse, and helping wherever he could at times at the Works. While often not in the spotlight like the other engines, to say he has a quiet life is far from true.

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: British Railways
LOCO TYPE: Rolls Royce Diesel Hydraulic Shunter
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #154 – Wendell the Works Diesel 
CURRENT STATUS: Static Exhibit
CURRENT LIVERY: Chocolate Brown, Red Lining
CREATOR: Simon Martin

Having been saved by his original society, Rollo, as named when in service on the railway, the shunter was brought to help Wendell and Bad Bob around Crovan’s Gate after his overhaul. While not brought in during deal times, as Wendell was in his crisis over Procor’s more than thought-provoking insults (ERS #154), he got on with his work, not, albeit, without a degree of criticism and rough expectations. As Wendell was away on the Main Line in Winston’s place, Rollo took over his duties in the works, quickly managing to run to his own order and schedule. After expressing his feelings to the other diesels, he finally learns to be more cautious of voicing his opinions after a night out on the ‘Out-of-Use’ lines. 

After the adventures of the Works, Rollo eventually was transferred to be the Vicarstown Rail Museum own shunter, and along with Parker, formed the first two engines for the new railway attraction. Though keeping a simple life shunting demonstration trains and the exhibits around the museum, he enjoys staying to his neat if sceptical regime, and often there to lend off-hoof remarks about the smallest of things.

During lean periods at the museum, Rollo also takes charge of the demonstration line, being cheaper to run than the steam fleet. A brakevan - one Queen Mary - was acquired in 2013 so as to allow Rollo to work brakevan rides. 

Rollo is based on the standard Rolls Royce Diesel-Hydraulic 0-4-0 shunter, of which there are several dozen in preservation.

Another of Sodor’s elder engines, Parker worked hard since the railway’s opening and construction, and after years of working as the Director’s inspection engine, before retired to Crovan’s Gate after WWII. He was found by Squaddie many years later, and restored for the Rail Museum as their first official exhibit.

RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #153 – Battle of Britain Engine
RA: 1
CURRENT STATUS: Static Exhibit
CURRENT LIVERY: Great Central Railway Express Passenger Livery (Brunswick Green).
CREATOR: Simon Martin

Parker was a locomotive hired in for the fledging North Western Railway, and later retained in the early 1920s. Being something of an antiquity, even at purchase, Parker was thought of and looked over fondly, until his rough riding ruled him out from his normal passenger services. First preserved by Sir Topham Hatt (I), Parker was used as the dedicated Director's Saloon locomotive, pulling the ex-Midland Railway inspection vehicle, “Penelope”.

This was a job Parker was tasked with until 1939. With the outbreak of the second world war, he was stored serviceable amongst other locomotives, including the NWR's number 4, Gordon. This did not last long, and both were quickly pressed into service a few months into the war, as the demands on the railway increased ten fold.


Parker was worked hard on suburban trains out of Knapford and down the Brendam branch, and was in constant need of repair by 1945, when he was officially withdrawn, and left in storage pending conservation elsewhere in the country. Unhappily for Parker, the negotiations for his place in the fledging museum at York broke down, and he was left languishing outside the Crovans Gate Works for several years.


However, he was shown some respite in the 1950s, restored for a solemn occasion. In 1956, Parker was used to haul a portion of Sir Topham Hatt (I)'s funeral train, a duty he shared with the NWR's number 4, Gordon, and NWR number 2, Edward (the standby locomotive). It was a sad event for the railway, and the island, and the choice of Parker for the final stretch into Vicarstown raised some eyebrows with the locals.


Here was a locomotive that had little, if nothing to link it particularly with the great man, aside from its original preservation. All became clear, however: Parker symbolised the start of the era in which Sir Topham Hatt (I) had lived and developed the railway, Gordon – still a modern pacific locomotive in many respects, the end of that same era.


Parker was kept under tarpaulins and partially tarred, protecting his components from further decay, until a chance discovery in 2008 led to the engine being donated to the new Vicarstown Railway Museum. His condition was, given adequate storage, unsurprising, and he returned to steam after minimal work to his axleboxes and tubeplate.


Parker was for a year the Museum's demonstration engine, alongside Neil*, giving brakevan rides and travelling around the island, advertising the new museum. However, after a severe failure in the tubeplate of his boiler, he was retired, and help hired in, in the form of NWR no.72 Warrior, who was repainted into Furness Railway livery to match the other exhibits in the roundhouse he shares.


Parker's operating future remains uncertain. Unless funds are raised to restore the boiler, or build a new one, Parker will remain a static exhibit.

Three Class 6D (LNER E2) 2-4-0 locomotives were built in 1883 to haul Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR, later GCR) express services between Manchester and Grantham. All three were built at Gorton Works.

Coming just after the end of the double-framed era on the the MS&LR, the E2s had an unusual frame design. The coupled wheels had outside frames. Although the outside frames extended to the front of the locomotive, the leading wheels only had an inside frame.

Intended to replace existing outside cylinder 2-2-2s, the Class E2s were found to be unstable at speed due to the use of Webb radial axleboxes on the leading wheels. The LNER was quick to withdraw them, and the last E2 was withdrawn in March 1924.


Unlike some of the other exhibits, Fern only ran of NWR metals for around 10 years, before being forgotten and lost at Crovan’s Gate, and handed over to the Vicarstown enthusiasts. She stands as a static exhibit in the hall and as a motherly figure to the others, especially compared to a certain diesel across the hall!

 LOCOMOTIVE TYPE: Furness Railway L1 Tank Engine
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #156 – Restoration Engines
RA: 2
CURRENT STATUS: Static Exhibit
CURRENT LIVERY: Furness Railway Indian Red, carries LMS number
CREATOR: Simon Martin

Fern was a locomotive which had been previously borrowed from the Furness Railway: like many of the older Furness Railway locomotives, their new owners (the newly formed London, Midland & Scottish Railway) were not interested in having them back, and she was sold at a knockdown price to the NWR during the locomotive crisis of the early 1920s.


Fern was used sporadically across the network until her withdrawal in 1937, however the onset of war pushed her back into service with the NWR until her final period of service came to an end in 1946. Stored, she remained behind Crovan's Gate works until she was handed over to the Vicarstown Railway Museum in a swap for the by then operational NWR no.53.


She has been restored externally to her Furness Railway livery, but carries her short lived London, Midland & Scottish Railway number.

The Pettigrew 3F tank engines of 1898 were built in small batches until 1907, and remained in service for around twenty five years before being withdrawn as they came up for overhaul by the LMS in the 1920s.

Sharpe is known for having one of the most bizarre discoveries of Sodor engines - once standing as a plinth at Kirk Ronan, and found out to be a replacement for the town in the place of one of the S&M engines. Once bought out to the VRM, he stands as one of the interesting exhibit, as well as its elder grump, often complaining about his current status.

LOCOMOTIVE TYPE: Furness Railway Tender Engine
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #156 – Restoration Engines
RA: 1
CURRENT STATUS: Operational as of late 2013
CURRENT LIVERY: Furness Railway Indian Red
CREATOR: Simon Martin

 Sharpe was a surprise discovery by members of the Vicarstown Railway Museum in 2009. The town of Kirk Ronan had this locomotive plinthed many decades before, displaying it as an original Sodor & Mainland railway locomotive.


It was in fact, a Furness Railway locomotive that had been sold into industrial use, and then later bought for display in the town, when their original locomotive had been stolen, presumably for scrap. Sharpe's true origins were discovered when the Museum's demonstration engine, Parker, failed to stop, and caused damage to the engine's plinth!


Realising his historical significance, the Vicarstown Railway Museum made a deal with the town, and made a non functioning replica Sodor & Mainland locomotive to replace Sharpe, who was taken to the museum, and given a full cosmetic overhaul back into a Furness Railway locomotive, complete with tender.


In 2013 Sharpe was returned to working condition following a lengthy overhaul, and is now the museum's mainstay on the demonstration line. His return to traffic was marked by a special photographic charter on the Norramby branch line.

Sharpe's backstory is an inversion of the real life locomotive, Furness Railway no.20, the flagship locomotive of the Furness Railway Trust, and the oldest working standard gauge steam engine in Britain. Furness Railway Number 20 was built in 1863 by Sharp Stewart & Co. of Manchester as one of a batch of eight 0-4-0 tender locomotives supplied between 1863 and 1866. The remarkable story of no.20 can be found here, on its own web page.

Since arriving on Sodor, Neil has worked alongside his brothers on the Sodor and Mainland Railway. When the engines were deemed outmoded, Neil spent a good number of years stuck as a plinth in Kirk Ronan as a memorial of the railway. When eventually found in recent years, he was restored and put to work at the VRM as a demonstration engine.

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Sodor & Mainland Railway
LOCO TYPE: Neilson & Co. "Box tank" basic 0-4-0 box/saddletank locomotive
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #20 - Very Old Engines
DATE OF ENTRY: 1850s - canon, RWS Book 1965
LIVERY: Dark green, with gold lettering
CREATOR: Rev W. Awdry, history fleshed out by Simon Martin

Little is known of these engines - Neil was no.2 of what was the "Sodor and Mainland Railway" built in the 1850s and lasting only upto the end of the 19th century. He first appeared in RWS #20, "Very Old Engines" as motive power on the Main Line from Kirk Ronan to Crovan's Gate when he delivered Skarloey to the new slate narrow-gauge railway at Crovan's Gate. Some illustrations after this saw presumably the same engine in a passenger carrying role. After this, records indicate that by 1901 all three engines had been scrapped.

In the ERS however, we find out that one of the original Sodor and Mainland engines had cunningly been saved by the then elderly Mr. Retford - manager of the Sodor and Mainland. He had forged the scrapping documentation along with the scrap merchant and had Neil spirited away into hiding for a few years.

Later on, when the town of Kirk Ronan wanted a memorial to their original railway, Neil was offered up as a hastily-made "replica" of a S&M locomotive. Parked upon a plinth he stayed for many years until one fateful night when he was stolen by scrap thieves.

What happened next is not fully clear - what we can establish is that the engine was kept mostly intact and preserved in tar and tarpaulin for a number of decades before the final thief anonymously donated the remains of the Neilson to the then infant Vicarstown Railway Museum. The fortunate engine was cleaned up and gradually restored, as the story of its survival gradually came to light. Nowadays Neil is an integral part of the VRM's History of Sodor exhibit and remains well looked after in his original green and gold livery.

Neil is based on the 0-4-0 Neilson & Son Box-Tank locomotives, used across the world in a variety of gauges.


Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Bicester Military Railway – built by Hunslet Locomotive Works as part of War Department strategy
LOCO TYPE: “Austerity” 50550 class
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #78 - Warrior the Colliery Engine
LIVERY: 2000 – Brown with red lining / 2009 – Furness Railway Red

About The Characters

Warrior was built in 1943 as part of the War Department’s plans for railways conducting their part in the ongoing global conflict of the period. Many were sent to the Continent, but Warrior was posted to the Bicester Military Railway. It was here he gained his grounding, dealing with several experiences like hauling over one hundred wagons in one train (leading to a severe reprimand!), heroically stopping a runaway when the brakesman had forgotten to pin brakes down, accidentally lock his passengers in their coaches when a rival positioned a wagon so it scraped off the doorhandles - and break the timetable on several occasions when the military crews wanted to reach Oxford!

In 1959, he was resold to Hunslet who quickly resold him on to the National Coal Board. From here he was deployed to East Lancashire, where he met his best friend of his career sofar – an Andrew Barclay named Vincent. It is also noted that it was here the engine we know was officially christened ‘Warrior’ as a tribute to his days in military service.

The two engines worked hard at their colliery, but as with all good things, it came to an end – the colliery was rundown and the track was pitifully maintained by the mid 1970s. It was as a result of this that Warrior was withdrawn due to a cylinder cover being torn off. Warrior was placed in storage to act as spare parts for Vincent but remained largely intact until the early 1980s when steam was phased out finally on the system. Warrior and Vincent were sold into preservation – Vincent as motive power, Warrior as a long term restoration project due to his dilapidation. Cosmetically restored, Warrior remained as a ‘plinth’ at the railway centre until the late 1990s when he was bought by the Hatt Steam Trust, restored and deployed on Sodor to act as a wingman to Donald and Douglas’ mixed traffic, go-anywhere deployment.

However, with the introduction and restoration of other engines, less motive power deficiencies occurred, leading to the point where Warrior was becoming surplus to requirement by the late 2000s. He was tried at the Tidmouth Docks, assigned to work there as a replacement while the mysterious Docks Pilot was away; but venturing onto the sharpest curves he seized up his axleboxes – and was removed as the normal engine had returned.

At this time, the Vicarstown Railway Museum was spreading its wings but its prize demonstration engine, Parker had been failed with boiler maladies. It was quick thinking that Warrior would firstly be painted into a Furness Red livery and be transferred to live at the Museum to act as its resident live steam locomotive.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Construction of these began in 1942 for the War Effort, where Hunslet and other sub-contracted works such as Vulcan, Hudswell Clarke, Bagnall and Andrew Barclays built these for both domestic and international use, finding use on the Continent and at British Docks -except Southampton Docks, due to the sharp curvature.

When the war ended, some were sold to railways in France and the Netherlands. Others were bought by the LNER for domestic use and others were retained by the military. By 1959 the military railways were closing, and the Austerities deployed here were transferred to the National Coal Board. These would be joined by a number of locomotives from the LNER stock.
The NCB continued to use Austerities in the 1970s and a small number remained in service until the early 1980s, notably at Bickershaw Colliery, Greater Manchester.

Approximately 70 of these useful engines have been saved for preservation all around the United Kingdom.

Edwin Richard

Edwin Richard

A Kerr-Stuart 0-6-0T ‘Joffre’ class locomotive built for service in WW1and used as a regimental mascot at a Royal Engineers Barracks for many years; with the closure of the Barracks however, the engine’s future looked bleak, until the MoD found a place for it on the Skarloey Railway during a locomotive crisis in 1983. 
Originally numbered ‘WD 33’, the engine became the SR’s #10, and was named ‘Edwin Richard’ after the Fat Clergyman. Edwin was thus present for Sir Handel’s 1984 return from Wales in ‘Great Little Engines’, but was not depicted in illustrations due to the publishers not wanting to confuse readers with the unexplained appearance of this ‘new’ engine.

The locomotive went on to become one of the most powerful of the Skarloey fleet, however, his services were found to be in need elsewhere on the Island with the rebuilding of the ‘Mountain Road’ section of the Mid Sodor Railway following an unfortunate accident, where Buzz was withdrawn for repairs in 1996 around the completion of Ivo Hugh (hence why he does not appear in the illustrations for ‘New Little Engine’).  Edwin stayed there throughout late 1996 and early 1997, completing the extension to Ballamoddey in time.
After this, there was significant interest from the society in buying up Edwin Richard, but the Skarloey Railway were reluctant to accept offers at this time.  However, in 2004, while the new MSHR engine is nearing completion and the new extension to Ulfstead Road is looming, a fresh bid was put forward to bring Edwin Richard's power to the Mid Sodor Heritage Railway again.  This time, with the Skarloey Railway looking to build or buy a more powerful Diesel, the agreement is struck and Edwin was sold.
Upon arrival at King Orry’s Bridge in mid 2004, Edwin Richard was taken out of his Skarloey Railway guise and received a new coat of burgundy red, with black and yellow lining and made his official debut on the line in their Summer Steam Gala.

Upon arrival at King Orry’s Bridge in mid 2005, Edwin Richard was taken out of his Skarloey Railway guise and received a new coat of burgundy red, with black and yellow lining prior to the opening season in 2006.

About the Character

Edwin Richard arrived on the Skarloey Railway with a strong Military ethos and state of mind still firmly intact, and used it to lord over the other engines. He soon settled down however, but retained a sense of discipline and general bossiness which tied in with his appreciation of all things Military related.

Upon hearing of his redeployment to the Mid Sodor Heritage Railway, Edwin Richard was unenthused about the prospect of having to operate under the management of amateurs who he claimed would be simply “playing at trains”, but soon came around when he realised the difficult mission that lay in front of the brave and determined volunteers. 
Upon his deployment there on a full time basis in 2004, he was happy to return again, realising the nature of the line’s arduous topography and realising that he would be essential to its successful running in the future.

As the most experienced engine in the shed, he is very much the Grand Old Man of the group, and has taken a particular interest in Rognvald, mentoring the young engine much as Duke once did Stuart and Falcon.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

Edwin Richard is based on the Kerr Stuart Joffre 0-6-0Ts that served in World War One, and saw active service in the trenches.

An engine with one of the most varied histories on the island, Jim has, through all his changes in life, always remained a kind and giving soul - despite being forced into several more than awkward situations. Managing to find a safe haven at long last, he serves as a long reminder of just how lucky and respectable steam engines are to find a safe home, if even on the other side of the world!


LOCOMOTIVE TYPE: Kerr Stuart Skylark

MANUFACTURER: Kerr, Stuart & Company Ltd
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #45 – Mid-Sodor Engines
CREATOR: Ryan Healy

Jim has probably had one of the most varied lives of any engine to grace the Island of Sodor.  Built in 1912, he was originally planned to work in South America, before civil war in the country he was due to work in broke out and the order was cancelled.  Not long after, Eammon Murphy, manager of the Ballywhite Railway in County Kildare, bought him ‘second hand’, unknown to owner, Francis O’Rourke who lambasted Murphy for buying another engine, after selling one of the more powerful locos to a railway in England.  He compared his antics to those of Jack and the Beanstalk, and denounced Jim as a ‘Magic Bean’.  The name stuck, and much to O’Rourke’s frustration, Jim became the mainstay of the Ballywhite Railway until it was regauged from 2ft 6in gauge to 3ft and aligned with the Electric Tramway in 1921.


Jim was then sold to the Mid-Sodor Railway, which is where most of his troubles began.  Jim never found favour with the Chief Mechanical Engineer, who wanted to put right a number of Jim’s defects as he had done with Stuart, who had come from the same Works.  Despite raising concerns about Jim’s brakes following regauging from 2ft 6in to 2ft 3in, the Manager disregarded the CME’s words and ordered him to let Jim run in ‘as is’ condition.  This led to a number of incidents which saw gates destroyed, trucks run away and Jim himself come to bother, running away and coming off a high cliff, making an unhappy landing several feet below.  Many thought this was the end for Jim, but fortunately, the CME made good on his repairs and rebuilt him to meet the needs of a Sand Quarry in England, seeking to buy one of the Mid-Sodor stock.  Jim remerged from the Workshops looking as good as new and left the railway in the Spring of 1923.


Jim spent around 30 years working on a Sand Quarry railway in the south of England, where he led something of an uneventful life shifting trucks along the industrial section of the line along with other small tank engines.  He was also pressed into service during the war when the line was commandeered by the Ministry of Defence to run supply trains to the coast, which incorporated a temporary extension of the line – where one locomotive, Guthrie, was destroyed in an air-raid.  When the line closed in the early 1950s, Jim was purchased by Eammon Murphy’s son, Dougal, who had taken up the role of Manager of the Reus Valley Railway in South Africa, having been offered the post from a former associate of Francis O’Rourke.


From here, Jim became the oldest and smallest of the engines on the Reus Valley Railway, being used for shunting duties in and around the main depot at Bergstad.  Upon occasion, Jim was used for short-haul journeys up the line, but these were few and far between, and the bulk of the work was handled by the larger Garratts and tender locomotives.  The Sudrian connection was re-established in the early 1990s, when a young Richard Hatt, fresh out of University took a gap year to travel and found work on the Reus Valley as a crew member, graduating from Cleaner to Fireman to eventually, Regional Manager by the 2000s, under the instruction of Phillip Kenworth, the railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer.


Much like the Mid Sodor, the line suffered heavy losses, and officials closed off half the line to prevent further profit loss.  When the line was finally destroyed by a torrential storm in 2004, Richard took charge of selling the line’s assets to good homes before buying up Jim and one of the Garratt locomotives, The Devil, bringing them back with him to the Island of Sodor, and striking a deal with the Sodor Railway Preservation Society to run Jim in their Ballahoo premises.  This deal fell through when the Society lost their premises at Ballahoo, leaving them temporarily homeless.


Jim remained part of the collection and work continued on his overhaul at Crovan’s Gate.  Eventually, through the help of Sir Stephen Topham Hatt (the Fat Controller and Richard’s father), the Society was rehoused in the old Vicarstown locomotive shed, which was renovated to become the Vicarstown Railway Museum.  Jim made his official return to steam alongside The Devil on the Mid-Sodor Railway in October of 2009, when they reopened the line to Cas-Ny-Hawin.  Since then, Jim has made several trips to the Mid-Sodor for Gala events, and runs a small demonstration train in the grounds of the Vicarstown Railway Museum.

The Skylark class of Kerr Stuart locomotive was built to numerous gauges throughout the company's lifetime.  Narrow gauge railways in the UK that ran the class include the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway in Scotland and the Snailbeach District Railways in England, with some examples of the class surviving at a sugar plantation in Mauritius.


'Zelda' is a name given by consent of her departed sisters and herselfIt must be noted that although the five engines had been named after Warships of the Royal Navy, they were all sisters and had privately renamed themselves – most after famous sorceresses in the Arthurian mythology (Morgana, Elania and Morgause). This D600 chose a mystical name with a plethora of meanings to her cause –one that meant patience (for Zelda is a shortening of ‘Griselda’) and that also derived meaning as ‘dark warrior maiden’ – Zelda, from Germanic script. It would suit her to a tee, alas and so her moniker has stuck, regardless of whether her original nameplates will ever be found.


When she was discovered lurking the Out Of use sidings at Crovan's Gate, thirty years after the class were thought to be extinct, the Scottish Twins poetically coined the term ‘the Witch of the Wastes’ - suitably given where the insane engine ‘ruled’ from!

As a result of fifty years of conflict, uncertain policy, undeveloped potential, ignorance and general apathy alongside hardening attitudes against the diesel hydraulics in the Western Region of British Railways, Zelda and her ‘family’ did not turn out to be the most pleasant of engines. Compounding Zelda’s temperament was the amount of time spent at Woodham’s Yard, Barry. Usually there would be a fairytale ending - and there has been for many engines coming to Sodor, including Winston, Squaddie, Sodor Castle, Bear and Brad to name a few - but alas for this one, circumstances would decree that once more, the D600s would be left out in the cold as it were. Rotting away on the Crovan’s Gate Out of Use line has not done much to temper her or her loneliness - or her reasoning. The many years of neglect, inferiority, suffering in Barry and finally, having her hopes dashed at Crovan’s Gate has indeed created a wicked, vicious, vengeful, unstable, cold, calculating and angry personality.

  RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: British Railways
LOCO TYPE: NBL Type D600 Express diesel-hydraulic
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS # 169 - Sudrian Diesel Engines
CURRENT STATUS: Static Exhibit
CURRENT LIVERY: Early British Railways Green; red bufferbeams, no warning panels

The remaining engine was infact saved from scrap in the twilight era of Sir Topham Hatt II. After the debacle with Winston and the failure to export the ‘Western’ to Sodor, STH sought for a back door means to bring a powerful express locomotive to Sodor. Upon this, and following the policy of hydraulic traction, having already adopted ‘Bad Bob’ and Bear the search went to Barry Scrapyard, where it was rumoured one lay and could be obtained on the cheap.

So she was obtained on a very cheap basis – and as she was purchased from the scrapyard and not BR, there were no restrictions on her running conditions. It was hoped that she could be re-engined and refitted to work with more standard parts. However, after a month of casual examination and research, it transpired that as North British Locomotive had gone bankrupt in 1962, and that the engine was the last survivor by a number of years, spare parts and fittings were thin on the ground. Added to this was the economic climate of the late 1970s and 1980s, meaning that unless she could be quickly rebuilt the investment was lost. Lastly, the engine had one good engine unit (MAN/NBL L12V 18/21) which was drastically needed elsewhere – and so, it was taken from the D600, enabling some resources to be recouped from what was one of STH II’s rare failures.

What sparked the re-emergence of the D600 was an issue of health and safety – a small number of stray cats had taken Crovan’s Gate as home and roamed around the site. Fears for their safety meant that a search party was sent out to round up the felines – and it was found that they had created their den in a cab of the wretched D600. Once the cats were removed and treated by a veterinary surgeon, the D600 engine was pulled out from its shadowy location to be made useful once more.

It was decided that there would be no way that the engine would be able to work again - the cost of repairs, new parts and refurbishment for North British designs/standards after essentially forty years on the scrapline - for what was potentially an unstable machine was not a sensible decision. It was initially mooted that with the prices of aluminium rising, the engine could be scrapped and the parts used on another engine that survived on Sodor. However, historical objections from engineering concerns including the DHAP put a stop to such – and instead, it was agreed that as per a suggestion written in 1978, that the engine would be cosmetically restored and used as a miniature – but now she could be placed on display at the recently-opened Vicarstown Railway Museum, as an exhibit front for the DHAP element of Crovan’s Gate.

The bodywork, frames and carrying bogies are restored, to enable full mobility. One cab end was restored fully to emulate what being in an express diesel locomotive was like. The rest of the engine was hollowed out and floored in to create a miniature gallery dedicated to the history of the first generation of BR Dieselation - and especially the Western Region’s Hydraulics. One part is sectioned off to display the engine and transmission blocks in their now intact state, but vital couplings are missing to prevent accidental movement!

Now the engine resides in early British Railway green livery amongst the Furness engines, the GCR 6D 2-4-0 (Parker) and in a twist of fate, is near another loco built by a concern that became part of North British – Neil, the SMR No.2. She is situated on a turntable road in the Great Shed.

The North British D600 class D20/2 were one of the most controversial first generation diesels to be designed and constructed. Going completely against the wishes of the British Transport Commission (who wanted diesel electrics) and the Western Region (who wanted light-weight, German-produced hydraulics) what was built was an 118-ton monstrosity with temperamental MAN engine units and an early Voith transmission setup.


Their construction was rushed due to both economics (NBL seeking to gain further contracts from BTC) and time (BTC ad the WR wanting the locomotives as soon as possible). The result was a rushed and poorly-designed fleet of locos. As time went on they were relegated to less important duties, as the D800s and finally the D1000s ousted them. All were withdrawn on 31st December 1967, but little was done with them until 1968 – D602-4 were taken to Cashmores of Newport where they were promptly broken up. D600 and D601 were despatched to Barry Scrapyard, consisting 50% of that yards final diesel contingent.


One was cut up within two years, while the other ignominiously lay there until 1980...

Eric is a nice, quiet engine who does everything with the minimum of fuss.

Important Information

  RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Culdee Fell Railway
LOCO TYPE: Swicc Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthus Design
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: RWS #19 - Mountain Engines
CURRENT LIVERY: Purple with Orange lining
CREATOR: Rev. W. Awdry

Eric arrived on the Culdee Fell in 1964 alongside Lord Harry and Alaric to support the now ageing fleet already working hard on the railway. Paired with his faithful coach Stephanie, he worked hard for many years until the expiry of his boiler ticket in 2013. Coupled with the changing financial situation on the railway, the decision was taken to retire Eric to the VRM to act as an ambassador for the Mountain Railway. In light of the news that a super-efficient new steam engine has been order to serve the line, whether Eric will be returned to service remains very uncertain.

Real Life Locomotive Basis

The Snowdon Mountain Railway's 7 and 8 - Ralph and Eryri - were both withdrawn in the late 80's and early 90's, for failing to remain 'steam-tight'. The future of these locomotives remains uncertain, but it is unlikely they will ever see service again.

Stephanie is a carriage who once worked on the Culdee Fell Mountain Railway.

Important Information

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Culdee Fell Railway

RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #217 – Vicarstown Museum Exhibits
CURRENT LIVERY: Orange & Cream


About the Characters

Stephanie was one of 3 new vehicles built at the Culdee Fell's Workshops in the early 1960's to the same design as the railway's existing coaching stock, such as Catherine. Although they featured some slightly more modern touches - mostly to offer greater comfort to passengers - visually they are identical. Working alongside Eric the two became very good friends, with the bright, confident Stephanie helping to bring the occasionally timid Eric out of his shell!

Upon his withdrawal from traffic the decision was made to send him to the VRM and Stephanie was sent too, the railway no longer having a need for her. With three new carriages arriving at once at the museum, Stephanie is glad to have other items of rolling stock to talk too, and will never shy away from voicing her feelings when the need arises!

Based on the traditional carriages from the Snowdon Mountain Railway, all of these vehicles have been superseded by new models in recent years and are unlikely to ever return to service.

Queen Mary

To many an engine on the Main Line, Mary had always been a troublesome character - larger than most of Sodor's brake vans, she was spiteful and rude, thinking herself the most important on the whole railway. After several nasty incidents, she has quietened down over time - but she still won't stand for any nonsense to anyone who should dare rub her up the wrong way.

RAILWAY OF ORIGIN: Southern Railway
RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #96 - Coaches, Trucks and Engines
CURRENT STATUS: Restored late 2013

Details of Mary’s history are scarce, but during repairs in the late 1980’s workmen discovered an original livery on the vehicle which gave some clues; it is believed she was part of a batch of 25 brake vehicles built in 1936, her original number either 56303 or 56308. 

Known as Mary on Sodor (it is unlikely she had a name in earlier years), she entered service on the Southern Railway for working express freight services across the south coast of England. Following nationalisation the ‘Queen Marys’ were gradually used further afield, being recorded as far afield as South Wales and Birmingham. Others entered departmental service across the country. How Mary ended up in the North of England is unclear but it is widely believed she arrived on Sodor, far from home and knowing nobody, in the mid to late 1960’s on the end of a coal train. She is listed as being part of the Sudrian Fleet from 1970 onwards, paperwork showing she had been purchased for a nominal sum from British Rail. 

Rather than attempt to make friends, Mary (who adopted the ‘Queen’ simply to improve her status) became a thorn in the sides of the NWR engines for many years with her grand manner and ability to stir up trouble in the yards. Over the next twenty years Mary required surprisingly little maintenance, possibly due to lack of use as the engines would try there best to avoid taking her out! 

It wasn’t until an encounter with Bill, Ben and a low bridge in 2000 that Queen Mary was finally silenced. She was restored, but so as to ensure she would cause little trouble in the future was modified for passenger use for excursions to the China Clay Workings. Some years later, her increasing attempts to cause mayhem on the Brendam branch saw her dispatched for scrap. However in a final twist of fate, she was given a reprieve, being used as storage shed for odds and ends in the scrap yard. 

In 2013 she was removed to a storage facility owned by the Vicarstown Railway Museum with a view to restoring her for brake van rides on the demonstration line, entering service in 2013. Having formally worn BR Brown livery, she is now resplendent in her original Southern Railway Grey.

The ‘Queen Mary’ style of brake van was the most numerous bogied-brake vehicles produced in the British Isles; the bogie giving guard’s a smoother ride on express freight runs. The nickname came from their larger than usual size, and therefore important look. Constructed by the Southern Railway, many found their way into BR and departmental use, and lingered around the network for many years.

Penelope is a very luxurious Inspectors Saloon.

RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #223 - Museum Misadventures*

CREATOR:  Simon Martin

*Mentioned in ERS N#1 'The Life and Times of Jim the Jinx', and ERS #217 'Vicarstown Museum Exhibits' prior to her debut.

Penelope might be very grand but that doesn't stop her being very down-to-earth and happy to chat with anyone. She never allows her special status to cloud her judgement and sees herself as 'just a coach'. 

 Built in the 1870s and rebuilt as an Inspector's Saloon just over a decade later, Penelope served across the rail network for nigh on 75 years. Arriving on Sodor sometime after the War but before the railways were nationalised, the aim had been to restore her back to passenger use before the Fat Controller of the time decided it would be sacrilege. Instead, Penelope carried on her role as an Inspection Vehicle until 1993 when - in need of extensive repairs - she was retired and sold on. After spending 20 years under tarpaulins she was finally taken inside in 2012 and now takes pride of place in the VRM restored to her 1870s pomp.

Henrietta is based on the 1880’s coaching stock used on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway in Cambridgeshire. They were built with verandas at each end, with special ‘gang plank’ sections for passengers to move from coach to coach. One of the original carriages from the tramway survives, a later 1884 variant than Henrietta with a longer body and frame and bogies for smoother running.

Mark has a unique role at the Vicarstown Railway Museum - he's the restaurant!

RWS/ERS ENTRY VOLUME: ERS #216 - Mixed Traffic Engines


CURRENT STATUS: Preserved / Static

CURRENT LIVERY: BR Western Region Chocolate and Cream


Mark is quite a subdued, quiet soul. Given he is simply 'one of many' and not an attraction on the railway like the engines, he feels he is second best to everyone and rarely speaks out on anything. He certainly isn't used to limelight or admiration. His arrival date on Sodor is uncertain, but it is likely to have been some time in the 1970s when coaching stock was being upgraded on the NWR. In 2013 Mark accompanied Henry as part of a fire-fighters training exercise when - regrettably - he was allowed to catch fire. Despite being badly damaged he was donated to the VRM who, upon restoring him to original condition, were delighted to use him as their new catering establishment in the middle of the museum. 

In his freshly applied early BR livery, he stands close to Zelda who also has BR paintwork- not that the pair of them speak to one another that much!

Mark is a First/Buffet Mk1 of 1950's vintage, some of which are still to be found on Heritage lines around the country.