Unfeatured characters in The Railway Series
There are many characters featured in The Railway Series books created by the Rev. W. Awdry and his son Christopher. A number of these characters appear in the illustrations without playing a major role in the stories, some not even warranting a mention in the text.
There have also been numerous engines who exist within the book "universe", but either merit only a brief mention in the stories or are only described within the out-of-print reference works The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways and Sodor: Reading Between the Lines. Still more were created for Rev. W. Awdry's own model railways, and are not mentioned in any official publication.
This article lists these oft-overlooked characters.
87546 & 98462
87546 and 98462 are two blue tender engines, who only appeared in the first illustration of The Three Railway Engines. They were not named or referred to within the story itself. Their history was expanded upon as a result of a letter from a reader to Rev. W. Awdry regarding the two unnamed engines. Awdry replied with a response that the two engines had no names, only numbers (being 87546 and 98462). He explained that they visited the Island on trial, but caused trouble and were spiteful to the other engines, so they were sent away. This explained why they were only seen in one picture, and never seen again.
87546 and 98462 do not appear to be based upon any particular class of locomotive. They were depicted by C. Reginald Dalby.
Barry is a tank engine who was going to be featured in the Railway Series. He was to be introduced in a book following Wilbert the Forest Engine, in which the Fat Controller finally bought a locomotive for more help. Barry was supposedly rescued from the famous Woodhams' Scrapyard on Barry Island in Wales, which explains the origin of his name.
It seems likely that Barry would be a Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST, as the Fat Controller said that he knew where he could get an engine just like Wilbert in the previous volume, although there has been some debate about this, as it has also been suggested that Barry was a 2MT tank engine, which would have been more realistic coming from Barry scrapyard, as well as perhaps more appropriate for the work he was to do.
The book was never released, due to a disagreement with the publishers. Egmont, the Railway Series publishing company, wanted another book relating to Thomas the Tank Engine instead of something focused on a new character. A loosely Thomas-related book was instead written and published, entitled Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines. If published, the book would be entitled Barry the Rescue Engine.
Jim, Tim, Jerry, & Albert
Jim, Tim, Jerry and Albert are all narrow-gauge tank engines who worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. They are considered the 'other' Mid-Sodor engines, apart from the more well-known engines Duke, Stuart (Peter Sam) and Falcon (Sir Handel). These engines weren't featured in any stories, however they appeared on Rev. W. Awdry's model layout of the railway. Apart from this, not much is known about them.
Jim, Tim and Albert have numbers that follow on from the first three locomotives:
- Albert 5
- Jim 6
- Tim 7
- Jerry 8
There was another Mid-Sodor Engine, who appeared on the layout. It was a small box-shaped Mines Engine, whose name wasn't revealed, and nothing is known about it.
Albert resembles Sir Handel, so it is assumed he's based on the same type. The other engines' prototypes are unknown as yet.
Sodor & Mainland Railway – Numbers 1 and 3
- Main article: Sodor & Mainland Railway (Locomotives)
According to The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, there were three engines on the Sodor & Mainland Railway. Of these, only the second has ever appeared in a story (in Very Old Engines), and was named Neil. The identities of the other two remain a mystery.
The "Coffee Pots"
The Tidmouth, Knapford & Elsbridge Railway| eventually became part of the North Western Railway, and was constructed with the help of the young Topham Hatt. This man also designed four small tank engines with vertical boilers that were nicknamed "Coffee Pots". These engines were used by the North Western Railway to pull quarry trains, but were worn out soon after their line became Thomas' branch line, and withdrawn. Apparently they were not very well-documented, and were never even photographed before they were scrapped.
The Wellsworth & Suddery Engines
The Wellsworth & Suddery Railway was the third railway to become part of the North Western Railway. It is recorded in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways that it had some tank engines of its own, but no further details are given.
The Midland Railway Engines
The North Western Railway faced a locomotive shortage in its early days, according to The Island of Sodor. Aside from Thomas, Edward, the Coffee Pots and the Wellsworth & Suddery engines, it had no engines of its own. Therefore, engines were hired from the Midland Railway until more could be purchased. It may be assumed that this arrangement had ended by the time of The Three Railway Engines. No precise details of the engines hired are given, unfortunately.
- Main article: Shane Dooiney
Shane Dooiney is the fifth of the original engines on the Culdee Fell Railway. When the book Mountain Engines was being written, he was away from the railway, being repaired, and hence did not appear in any stories.
Blister I & Blister II
Sigrid of Arlesdale
- Main article: Arlesdale Railway (locomotives)
These diesels are all mentioned in the book The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, but have never appeared in The Railway Series books.
Fred is a diesel on the Skarloey Railway. He is used mainly for maintenance and engineering work on the railway, and is number 9. According to Sodor - Reading Between the Lines, the Skarloey Railway built him from two engines they had bought, and he first saw service in 1989.
Fred was only mentioned once, on the first page of the story Speedkiller in the Railway Series Book New Little Engine when it was stated that he was too ill to pull the weedkilling train (or so he claimed).
Mark V is an Electric Trolley working on the Skarloey Railway. Supposedly, he is the Thin Controller's private mode of transportation, and was the most recent addition to the Skarloey Railway (not including the TV Series). Not much is known about him.
Ministry of Defence Engine
According to The Island of Sodor, after the slate quarries on the Skarloey Railway closed, they were taken over by the Ministry of Defence. They shunted this quarry using their own engine, a black, electrically-powered engine described as being "beetle-like". This engine was never seen by any of the Skarloey Railway engines, due to the secret nature of its work.
Peel Godred Engines
The Peel Godred branch of the North Western Railway is run using electric locomotives to deal with the heavy aluminium traffic on that line. No details are given as to the locomotives that first worked the line, but Sodor: Reading Between the Lines states that goods traffic is currently handled by engines similar to the British Rail Class 87, and the passenger services are run by electric multiple units.
This unusual-looking machine appears in one illustration in Small Railway Engines. It is a complicated machine used for replacing old ballast on the Fat Controller's Railway. It is painted bright yellow and carries the words "SODOR CHAIN LOAD UNDERCUT" on its side. Unusually, it appears to be wearing glasses in the illustration.
It is also known as the Sodor Railway Repair Train. However, this title is technically inaccurate (it belongs to the North Western Railway, not Sodor Railway, and is not strictly used for repair as such). It originates with the model of the character produced by Learning Curve.
Fred Pelhay is an orange 'Private Owner' truck. Fred lives and works on the Island of Sodor. He is one of the troublesome trucks on the Island, and loves to cause trouble. Although he is not mentioned at all in the Railway Series, he makes a cameo in the background of the first picture in the story 'Toad Stands By' in the book Oliver the Western Engine.
There has been some debate whether or not Fred is actually his name, or just the name of the company that owns him. In the Learning Curve Thomas Wooden Railway range, it is implied that Fred is indeed his real name, although this may simply have been for convenience of labelling. He was available in the Learning Curve Thomas Wooden Railway range from 1997–2002— he is still produced but only available in the "Sodor Gift Pack".
Elsie is a Wisbech and Upwell luggage/guard's van. She was also created by Wilbert Awdry, but was not featured in any stories. She was however seen in Awdry's model layout of Thomas' branch line, in which she is seen without a face.
Visitors from The Other Railway
Many of the 'Unfeatured' characters are visitors to the Island from The Other Railway, or have been seen when the Sodor residents have been on visits to the mainland. In very few cases do they play an active role in the stories.
31120 is a diesel locomotive that appears in the book Gordon the High Speed Engine (vol 31 in the series). In the story, BoCo arrives at Vicarstown pulling Gordon the Big Engine, who was poorly (he had dropped a firebar). At another platform, a blue diesel (31120) can be seen at the head of a train of North Western Railway coaches. It is pictured with a face, but is unnamed and is not referred to in the story text. (The engine is showing a headcode of 1X01, which seems unlikely, as the 'X' indicates: 'Royal Train or out-of-gauge load'!)
D10751 is a blue diesel train who works on The Other Railway, and appears in Gordon the High-Speed Engine. In the story 'Gordon Proves his Point', Gordon the Big Engine arrives at Barrow station to find D10751 has broken down. So, Gordon comes to the rescue and takes D10751's railtour passengers on up the coast line to Carlisle.
D10751 has no real name, nor indeed a real number: '10751' is simply drawn in the four-character route indicator above the cab. (Its running number should be a 5-digit number starting with '5', on the bodyside.)
D10751 is based on a British Rail 'suburban' diesel multiple unit (DMU); one of the several DMU classes with a Derby-style cab and a 4-character headcode box, such as Classes 115, 117, 118 or 127.