Book 10 - Four Little Engines - 1955
Summaries by J Smith
A landmark volume of the series, this book introduces us to an entirely new set of characters and a completely different railway – expanding the world of Sodor. The Skarloey Railway, a narrow-gauged scenic line, is based down to the detail on the famous Talyllyn Railway in Tywyn, Wales, and is run by the Thin Controller. Much like the Fat Controller’s Railway, this little line has just as many stories to tell and has since developed over the years with a thick history behind it. This volume is the first of several focusing on the Skarloey Railway, and introduces the first four locomotives of its fleet.
Edward is sent for repairs at Crovan’s Gate, and whilst he is waiting to be seen, he spots a little narrow guaged engines standing alone nearby. He recognises the engine as Skarloey, one of the little engines who run a beautiful scenic line known as the Skarloey Railway. Edward goes over to talk to his old friend, and Skarloey tells him that two new engines have arrived. Sadly, his brother Rheneas was put onto a truck and sent away to be mended. He tells Edward all about their line and reminisces about the time when he and Rheneas ran it together. When Edward leaves him, Skarloey closes his eyes and remembers his youth in peace.
The two new additions arrive at the shed – Sir Handel and Peter Sam. Peter Sam is kind and peaceful, but Sir Handel is conceited and grumpy. He complains bitterly about the state of the engine shed and even speaks rudely of Skarloey. He is put into an even worser mood when he is chosen to go out first and deeply offends the coaches by calling them ‘cattle trucks’. The coaches decide to get back at Sir Handel, and hold him back on a hill, making him strain so badly that sand is needed to complete the journey. The Thin Controller gives him a formal warning, but a few days later when he discovers that he must go to the quarry to collect some trucks, Sir Handel purposely derails himself. He is sent to the shed to repent.
Peter Sam & The Refreshment Lady
With Sir Handel in disgrace, Peter Sam takes over his duties. He is a much more pleasant character, and he treats the coaches with kindness and respect. They take an instant liking to him, but Peter Sam begins to worry when Henry threatens to leave without him if he is late for the connection. He frets so badly that when forced to wait an hour for his passengers on their return trip, he sets off too quickly and leaves the Refreshment Lady behind. Thankfully, they manage to stop to let her on and still catch Henry in time. The Refreshment Lady rebukes Peter Sam for leaving her, to which the little engine tells her about Henry’s threat. She laughs and explaining that Henry cannot leave – he is a ‘guaranteed connection’. Before Peter Sam can say anything more, Henry has already chuckled away.
Peter Sam is in need of repairs, so Sir Handel is allowed to return to work on Market Day. He tries to be kind to the coaches, but they still do not trust him. When sheep stray onto the line and Sir Handel is forced to stop abruptly, the coaches think he is bumping them and to pay him they cause him to derail at an awkward bit of line just outside the station. An engine is needed to take the village people home and fetch the tourists – but the only one available is Skarloey. The manager is worried, but Skarloey is unconquerable. He scolds the coaches for their misconduct and struggles on where Sir Handel left off, knowing that he could run into trouble. Sure enough, his front spring breaks, but Skarloey is determined to complete the journey. He does so – limping triumphantly, and in return for his efforts, he is rewarded with an overhaul.