Book 39 - Thomas & The Fat Controller's Engines - 1995
Summaries by R Healy
The fiftieth anniversary book for the Railway Series was due to be "Barry the Rescue Engine", which would have been a proper follow-up to "Wilbert the Forest Engine", with the Fat Controller obtaining the new loco he hoped for. Instead, the Publishers pushed for another "Thomas" book, which Christopher delivered to them. There was great objection over the title from the author and his family - which implies that Thomas isn't one of the Fat Controller's Engines. It was used as a marketing tool to sell more books, which is ironic because this was one of the most difficult Railway Series books to obtain during the period when it was out of print!
The engines are arguing in the shed over what a "Jubilee" is. Henry argues it's an engine he met at Crewe, Gordon says it's a special train that leaves from London, and Percy confuses it with a Scout Jamboree! But the Fat Controller tells them all that it's a celebration of 50 years of the Railway Series books. He also tells the engines that Pip and Emma will be taking the Special train from London to bring the visitors.
On his journey later that day, Gordon runs into a flock of birds that are flying close to the line. Gordon feels a bump and his brakes come on suddenly. The crew suspect a leak in the pipe, but there is none, but the Fireman discovers the bird has knocked a seal out of Gordon's brake pipe! The other engines declare that it's nothing to crow about!
Edward & The Cabbages
Edward is made late at the junction by James and tries to hurry to make up for lost time. As he heads out along the line, he feels something jolt beneath him as he approaches a station, the crew check him and find everything in order, but Edward still complains about his front feeling wobbly.
Then, it happens! A round metal object bounces out from under them and lands in the field! Edward's Driver stops the train and tells Edward that one of his bogie wheels have come off. The Fat Controller is quite relieved that Edward didn't end up in the Cabbage patch himself, and Boco helps him to the works the following day. The Fat Controller promises to have Edward mended in time for the Jubilee Celebrations, and reminds him to tell his Driver that the next time he wishes to cut cabbages, there are easier ways of doing so!
Due to Rabbits digging holes under the line, the Fat Controller has imposed a speed limit of 10MPH on the stretch of line before the Airfield, so that the ground can be strengthened and to prevent accidents.
The day before work is due to start, Thomas is taking his branch line train down the unsafe stretch of line, when he feels the rails quiver beneath him. The left hand rail tilts and Thomas lands with a crunch in the ballast!
Percy helps Annie and Clarabel home, and then comes back for Thomas with some workmen. Thomas is jacked up and some rails are then slipped beneath him, Percy then pulls Thomas back onto the firm rails again. Afterward, he's coupled to Thomas and pulls him home to the shed again.
Henry is being gloomy and negative about the Anniversary celebrations, believing there'll be nothing for the visitors to see when they arrive. Donald, Daisy, Duck and James all disagree with him and try to put a positive spin on the situation, but Henry still feels unconvinced.
Edward's wheel and Thomas' Branch Line have both been repaired, and Edward is told that he will be running ahead of the "Special Train" to make sure the line is clear, but his very vague on the details.
On the day however, there are problems when an old spider's web causes trouble with the signals as it blows across two electrical contacts. This means that the engines have to be flagged through instead.
Henry and Gordon are still being negative when Edward pulls in, but their mood soon changes when a Royal Personage steps out from Pip and Emma's train. The Royal visitor declares that he's honoured to be visiting the Island and delcares to the Fat Controller that, "The Queen was right, your Railway and your engines are a credit to you!"