Book 7 - Toby The Tram Engine - 1952
Summaries by J Smith
The seventh volume of the Railway Series, published in 1952, introduces us to a ‘short and sturdy’ steam tram called Toby, who runs a tramway in East Anglia with his coach Henrietta. This book tells of how he met the Fat Controller, and how he eventually came to the Island of Sodor after his line closed down. Toby is a delightful character and Awdry creates a lot of sympathy for him in this book.
Toby & The Stout Gentleman
Toby is a ‘short and sturdy’ steam tram, who does not look like a steam engine at all. With his coach Henrietta, he once ran a tramway in East Anglia were he took trucks from farms and factories to the main line. But as the years went by, Toby had fewer trucks and fewer passengers. One day, Toby meets a stout gentleman on holiday with his two grandchildren. Despite being mistaking him for an ‘electric’ tram, his crew are delighted to give the family a ride. They return every day for a fortnight and are soon good friends with Toby. But a few months after the stout gentleman leaves, Toby’s line is schedules to close. After his last journey, Toby returns sadly to his shed – to be woken the next morning by his crew, who have just received a letter from the stout gentleman…
Thomas In Trouble
There is a quarry at the end of Thomas’ branch line, and for a short distance it travels alongside a road. One morning, Thomas is bringing some trucks down from the quarry when he spots a policeman beside the line. He whistles a friendly ‘good morning’, but the policeman is not at all friendly like the constable that recently retired. He angrily scolds Thomas and classifies him as a ‘Regular Law Breaker’ – for engines cannot travel alongside public roads without cowcatchers and side plates for reasons of safety. The Fat Controller is summoned to settle the situation, but he realises that there is no use arguing with policemen. He almost gives in until Thomas’ pleas remind him of Toby, who he had met on holiday. Toby is ideal for quarry work, so he is brought to the Fat Controller’s railway at once. He and Thomas are soon good friends – especially after Toby frightened the policeman with his bell.
James rudely disregards Toby and Henrietta, looking down at them as if they were peasants and calling them ‘dirty objects’. Toby soon looses patience and asks James why he is painted red. James proudly announces that red is the only worthy colour for a spendid engine, who’s paint would never get dirty –until Toby reminds him of the incident with the bootlaces. James is deeply insulted, and is made crosser still when he learns that he must pull a 'slow goods' later that day. He bumps the trucks in fury, and they decide to get back at him. They push James down Gordon's hill and send him hurtling into a train of idle tar wagons standing in the goods yard. James’ splendid red paint is splashed with tar, and he is most uncomfortable when Toby and Percy come to his rescue. Toby is rewarded with a new coat of paint for his assistance, and Henrietta is promised one too.
Mrs Kyndley's Christmas
As Christmas draws closer, Thomas finds his trains getting heavier. But when he sees a handkerchief waving from the window of a little cottage beside the line, he feels a boost of confidence. His crew tell him that it was Mrs. Kyndley – who has become bed sick. Thomas feels sorry for her, but there is more to worry about when heavy rain begins to pour. One day, during a particularly harsh downpour, Thomas is approaching the cottage when his crew notice a red dressing gown flapping from the window. They realise that Mrs. Kyndley is in trouble and stop the train to investigate with a doctor. They also find that a landslide caused by the rain now blocks their path ahead. They realise that Mrs. Kyndley raised the signal to warn them – and to thank her for saving them Thomas, Toby and the Fat Controller pay her a special visit on Christmas Day. The Fat Controller gives Mrs. Kyndley tickets to Bournemouth where she will get better, and Thomas and Toby look forward to welcoming her home.