Sir Stephen Hatt sighed. Even with his railway’s vast fleet of engines, it seemed there was always need for another one. He sifted through the papers on his desk; an amalgamation of weekly reports from the Inspectors who ran the Branch Lines, and various engine catalogues. Most of the reports were routine, but one in particular stuck out to him. It was from Nicholas Houston, manager of the Norramby Branch Line:
Dear Sir Hatt; The workload is increasing. Arthur is rushed off his wheels handling both the fish deliveries and the tourist trains, and Nia is too inexperienced with passengers to be of much help. Could you perhaps spare a passenger engine, one with a lower weight and axle load?
Yours, Mr. Houston.
Uttering his second sigh of the day, Stephen ran through several scenarios in his head. Thomas and Toby were kept busy at Ffarquhar, and most of his main line engines were either caught up in their own work, or far too heavy for the little seaside branch line’s track.
Picking up a magazine at random, Stephen read to keep his mind off of his duties. Then, an article caught his eye. It was about the LNER Trust, a society renowned for improving and recreating ‘lost’ LNER designs. The article stated that the Trust had just built three more of the V2 class, with a much lighter axle load. It also stated that the Trust couldn’t afford to keep all three of them in service, and was looking for a buyer for the youngest, 4902 Lady Eleanor. The Fat Controller smiled. He had his answer! Now, he needed to get in contact with the Trust.
The deal was done overnight. The young engine only had a small amount of time to say her good-byes before being whisked away to her new home aboard BoCo’s Midnight Goods.
Poor Ella was very frightened. Her siblings had warned her about Diesels. ‘They will sneak into the yard, and snatch you away, sight unseen!’ This engine was certainly a Diesel; he was big, he was green, and he didn’t have coal or water. There was one thing she didn’t understand about this one, though: he was being quite kind to her. Was that another thing Diesels did, being kind before taking you to be Scrapped? She wished that Susan and Jon were here; they would know what to do if a Diesel got them.
At last, gathering her courage, she spoke up. “Excuse me? Are you taking me for Scrap?” The Diesel laughed, but there was no malice in it. “Bless you, no! I’m taking you to your new home! You’re going to be working on Sodor!” Ella smiled. Sodor! Susan and Jon had told her stories about it. Sodor was a magical place, where steam would live forever. “I thought there were no Diesels on Sodor.” She said, puzzled.
BoCo smiled. “Sodor is a wonderful place, er-” He stopped, then chuckled to himself. “Please excuse my manners, Miss, I haven’t asked your name!” Sensing her hesitation, he went first. “I’m BoCo.” “I’m Ella.” She said. “BoCo is certainly an odd name- why do you have it?” BoCo smiled again. “It’s sort of a joke, to tell you the truth. My wheel arrangement is a Co-Bo; three bogie axles at the front, two at the back. They could have called me CoBo, but I like BoCo more. What do you think?” “BoCo is a wonderful name!” She said happily. Then she caught herself. “What was it that you were saying, about Sodor being a wonderful place?” So, as they traveled through the night, BoCo told her about her new home.
By the time the night was through, Ella had made a firm friend in the big green Metrovick. She had learned so much about Sodor from BoCo that Jon would be jealous!
Sodor was not a magical place, but a real railway where steam, diesel, and even electric engines worked together. Ella was going to a place called Norramby, where she would work with two engines named Arthur and Nia. And as the sun rose over her new home, all Ella hoped was that the engines there were as nice as BoCo.
“I don’t know about this one, Nia. Is she light enough? Can she handle mixed-traffic duties? Is she a hard wor-” “Shh! You’ll wake her, Arthur.” Arthur glared at his African shedmate. “I just want to make sure that she’ll work well here, that’s all!” “Yes, but she needs her sleep.” Arthur subsided. “Fair point. I need some too, come to think of it.” He yawned, and settled into the shed.
Ella woke with a start. This wasn’t her shed. Where was she? As she got her bearings, the memories of last night came back to her. This must be Norramby! When she looked around, Ella saw two brightly-painted tank engines, around her size, sleeping in the sheds. One was painted a bright maroon, with L.M.S. in yellow on his side tanks. The other was orange, with some foreign patterns on her side tanks. L.M.S… that sounded familiar to Ella. Where had she heard it before? Her mind drifted to her siblings. Susan would be worried out of her mind right now, fussing about the yard, and poor Jon would be trying to soothe her blind panic. Ella smiled. Susan was always a worrier.
A smartly-dressed man walked up to the sheds. “Rise and shine, everybody, we’ve got a big day ahead!” Nia yawned as her crew started her fire, while Arthur blinked groggily. “Already, Mr. Houston? It feels like I just fell asleep!” “You did, silly!” Nia laughed. She noticed the look of confusion on Ella’s face. “Hello, new engine! I’m Nia.” “I’m Ella!” She replied cheerfully. Then, Ella saw Mr. Houston walk up to her. “Are you the Controller?” Mr. Houston smiled. “No, just the Manager. My name is Mr. Houston, Ella. It’s very good to meet you. Goodness knows we needed another engine!” “Nice to meet you too, Sir!” Ella replied enthusiastically.
“Now, your jobs for today. Arthur, you’ll be showing Ella the way to the fishing village. The two of you can handle the morning fish trains. Nia, it’s the usuals for you today, but I want you to show Ella how we work around here.” He turned to the apple green V2. “Ella, you will work with both Arthur and Nia today. Help out on odd jobs, then get back here at 2:20 sharp so that you can doublehead one of Arthur’s tourist trains.” “Yes, Sir!” The engines chorused, but inside Ella was nervous. What if she messed something up?
On the way to the fishing docks, Arthur eyed the new engine critically. She was taking in the various sights of the line; that wasn’t surprising. All engines did that. What made him nervous about her was how she studied the line. Why was she doing that? What a peculiar engine!
“Alright, Ella, here’s the catch of the day.” Arthur shunted a few fish vans together. Ella didn’t like the smell of the fish. Nor did she like the seagulls that flocked around the vans. They gave her the creeps. “Um… what are the seagulls doing?” Arthur smiled, but there was a sense of something in it. What was it called again? Smugness? Yes. There was a hint of smugness in Arthur’s smile. “They’re gathered around the vans, trying to catch any fish that fly out. That’s why we only shunt five vans at a time- so that the gulls don’t get any of it.” Ella wrinkled her nose, and before she could stop herself, she blurted out: “Maybe that’s why you need me- because you’re so worried about spilling a single drop, you can’t get any work done!” The 2MT’s smile vanished, and he frowned. “So typical of you Nor’Easters, focusing on speed over quality.” Then it hit her. She knew what LMS stood for! He was a Middi- he was from the LNER’s biggest rivals, the London, Midland, and Scottish railway.
Glaring daggers at each other, they set to work with their shunting. In almost no time at all, Arthur had five vans together, and pushed them on their way to Ballahoo. Ella stayed behind a little longer, and arranged a train twice that length. “I can manage,” She said confidently. “I’m stronger and faster than he is.” Setting off, she couldn’t shake the dreadful feeling that something would go wrong.
And something did go wrong. What the young V2 didn’t know was that one of her old fish vans had extremely rusty brakes. Despite Ella being careful not to exceed the speed limit, the tricky brakes were agitated, and the trucks took full advantage of this. “Hold back! Hold back!” They giggled in their senseless way. Now, the trucks weren’t prepared for Ella’s strength. They had expected her to be as strong as Arthur and Nia, but she was really much stronger. “Ouch! No!” The old van called, but it was no use.
Ella felt a tugging sensation on her coupling, but she paid it no mind. Sudrian trucks were known for their tricks, and she was ready for them. Passing Arthur as he returned to Norramby, she whistled cheerfully to him. “Fancy that, Arthur! A Nor’Easter, doing your job as well as you!” And she whistled once more.
Arthur’s jaw hit his running board. Impossible! He had told her not to take more than five trucks, and there she was, taking ten! And she pulled them like it was nothing! But the rusty van hadn’t gone unnoticed by him, and he chuckled. She was in for it now.
The tugging sensation intensified, and Ella felt herself starting to strain. The old van was shouting now. “STOP! I’M COMING APART! I’M COMING APART!-” But it was too late. Huffing hard, Ella gave a mighty tug on the coupling, and the once-mighty fishing van’s frames were torn asunder.
“Oops.” Ella was greatly embarrassed. Arthur came by with another load of five vans. “Fancy that, Ella! A Nor’Easter messing up a job by trying to go fast! So predictable!” He chortled away with his more sensible, but still slower, load.
Soon, Nia arrived with a large fishing crane. “Come on, Ella, you can go ahead. I’ll clear this mess up faster than you can say ‘Welcome to Sodor!” “Thank you.” Ella said gratefully. She would rather not talk about this too much.
After her fish deliveries were completed, Ella worked with Nia for the first time. It was simple work, like taking salt to Crovan’s Gate. She liked the jobs, though; they took her mind off of her earlier mishap. However, her biggest nightmare proved to be the large clock tower at the Works station, ticking closer to two-twenty.
When the time came, she thundered down to the station, where Arthur was waiting at the platform with their coaches. “Couple up in front.” He said curtly. Ella did as she was told, and waited for the whistle of the guard. It eventually came, and the two engines raced away. They dashed to Ballahoo, and then looped around to Crovan’s Gate, where there was a Sterling Single named Emily waiting for them. And, having made good time, both engines had a rest by the water tower.
Ella took the opportunity to apologize to the older engine. “Arthur, I’m sorry I was rude to you. I really mean it. Can we be friends?” Arthur smiled, but it was a warm, friendly smile. “Yes, of course. And I’m sorry that I underestimated you. You’re a lot stronger than you look!” Friends now, their return trip was much smoother. And that night in the sheds, the newest engine on the NWR could rest easy knowing that she had two good friends.
The Norramby branch line terminates at Crovan’s Gate station, where it meets the Main Line. This is also the last stop of Gordon’s Express before Vicarstown. Sometimes, the engines from the little seaside branch line will have time to talk to the Big Engines, or sometimes they will talk to the Little Engines from the Skarloey Railway. Whoever is there, Crovan’s Gate is always a very good place to socialize, as Ella found out one day.
“Arthur, may I take your tourist train up to Crovan’s Gate today?” “Hmm?” Arthur asked sleepily. Ella was impatient. “I asked if I could take the morning train to Crovan’s Gate. So, may I, Arthur? Please?” The tank engine sighed. If it bought him an extra few minutes of sleep, he would say yes to anything. “Yes, you can, Ella. I’ll tell Mr. Houston when he comes.” The young engine grinned. “Thank you, Arthur! Or should I say, tank you!” Laughing at her own wit, she set off at a brisk pace for the station. Arthur groaned. “She’d fit right in with all the big engines at Tidmouth.” Little did he know how true that was going to be.
Ella kept up her fast pace all the way along the line, whilst being careful not to exceed the speed limit, as she had accidentally done before. She arrived at Crovan’s Gate ten minutes before the morning express, instead of the usual five. At the station, she noticed a little green engine with an odd-looking funnel on the narrow-gauge tracks. “Hello! I’ve never seen you before!” He said cheerfully. “I’m Ella, the newest engine.” “I’m Peter Sam!” “You have quite an odd looking funnel- why is that?” “Oh, it’s quite the story!” He laughed. And so, Peter Sam regaled her with the tale of how he got his ‘special funnel.’ “And Sir Handel and Duncan asked me why I had sat on it!” Ella laughed. These narrow gauge engines sounded like quite the interesting bunch!
While they were chatting, Gordon thundered in with the morning Express. “Right on time as usual, Arthur!” He exclaimed. It took him a moment to realize that the engine to his left was not, in fact, the LMS tank engine. The engine wasn’t Nia, either. She had two wheels in front, six medium sized driving wheels, two trailing wheels, and an apple green boiler… good glory! Sir Stephen had bought a V2! Gordon had thought Green Arrow was the only one left! The big blue Pacific drew alongside to make conversation.
Peter Sam’s guard’s whistle blew, and Ella’s new friend chuffed away with his train. Just then, Ella noticed a blue engine. He was eyeing her curiously. “Excuse me, Mister? Is there something that you’re looking for?” “Not at all!” He said proudly. “Just wanted to welcome a new cousin to Sodor. My name is Gordon, and I am Sodor’s primary express engine. Out of curiosity, I must ask: how are you here? I thought Green Arrow was the last of his class.” “I’m a newbuild!” She said proudly. “The trust named me Lady Eleanor, but I go by Ella.” She paused. “You said your name was Gordon. Aren’t you Flying Scotsman’s brother?” Gordon understandably bristled at this. “Yes, I am.” Seeing that she had meant no offense, he returned to his warmer persona. “But I’d like to extend my hand in friendship, so to speak, Cousin. You have a lot of potential. I can see that.” Both signals turned green, and the two Gresley engines went their separate ways.
That night, Ella couldn’t get her mind off of what Gordon had said. It also helped that the noisy gulls were keeping her awake. She liked Arthur and Nia, and the Norramby line was very fun. It just didn’t seem like the right place for her. Was that what ‘potential’ was? Susan would know.
Next morning, Ella swapped her jobs with Arthur again, in the hopes of seeing Gordon at Crovan’s Gate. Arriving early once more, she stopped to chat with Peter Sam, and waited for Gordon to come.
But Gordon didn’t come. Instead of Gordon, a large streamlined Pacific pulled in smoothly on the Express line. Ella disliked him immediately. His face carried a haughty aura, one fraught with smugness. It was as if he was saying, I know I’m better than you. Just accept it. “And who, may I ask, are you?” He asked loftily. “Ella.” She didn’t want to talk with this engine any more than she absolutely had to. “Ella. That’s a royal name. I wonder how it was assigned to such, dare I say, common stock as you.” Ella went red in the face. She wasn’t common stock- she was the newest member of a perfectly noble lineage, started by Green Arrow himself! “What makes you so special, cousin?” She practically spat the word out.
“And where’s Gordon? I thought the Express was his job!” “Cousin? You should look up to me with some respect, little V2. I am an A4 Pacific. I am superior. You, on the other buffer, are a common mixed-traffic engine. As for your other question, Gordon was called to work elsewhere. I, Spencer, am pulling the Express in his place, because I am the best option available for the esteemed guests on board.” “Oh, is that so?” Before Ella could fire off another stinging retort, her signal turned to green. Blowing her whistle defiantly, she raced away so fast that not even the Flying Scotsman could catch her.
“That Spencer fellow is so stuck up!” She complained in the shed that night. “Believe me, I know,” Arthur said grimly, “I’ve had to share a shed with him before. He really is absolutely horrid.” “I wish Gordon would come back.” Ella sighed. “Gordon isn’t so perfect himself.” Nia chimed in. “He can be just as prideful as Spencer sometimes, and I think he is a bit xenophobic.” Ella was confused. “Xeno-what?” “It means that he’s afraid of change.” Nia explained to her.
“Looks like you’re caught between a rock and the deep blue sea, Ella.” Arthur finished. Although it was unlike any he had ever faced, the LMS tank engine was sympathetic to his friend’s plight. Ella sighed again, dejected. “Maybe, but I know which one I would choose if I had to!” Her shedmates silently agreed.
Mr. Houston walked up to his engines one morning. He looked exhausted. “I’ve just received a message from Mrs. Atkinson. The Kirk Ronan fleet needs an extra engine to help out down at the Wharf while Sidney is at the Dieselworks for maintenance. Since this will be a lighter day for us, I need a volunteer.” “Me, Sir!” Ella was excited. Finally, a chance to see more of Sodor! “Very good, Ella. I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I’m sure Jean Atkinson will too.”
And so it was arranged. With a good head of steam, Ella raced down the mainline full-tilt at 150 kilometers per hour. It was a glorious feeling. Just her, her crew, and the wind. Now she knew how Gordon felt every time he pulled the Express!
In no time at all, she was on the Kirk Ronan branch line. Checking her speed, she brought it down to around eighty kilometers per hour. And, as she slowed to meet the speed limit, it allowed her to better take in the majestic views that the short branch line offered. There were rolling pastures, sloping inclines, and even a fantastic old castle!
Ella finally reached Kirk Ronan Wharf, and gasped at the sight in front of her. There was cargo everywhere! It was stacked up on the quayside, it was loaded into trucks, it was everywhere except where it was supposed to be. A green diesel shunted a couple of flatbeds together. It was clear he was stressed. “Of all the times for Sidney to get maintenance done… oh, hi, new engine! Welcome to Kirk Ronan Wharf. We’re usually not this busy, but today is different. Now, would you mind moving the container flatbeds that are blocking the sheds?” Ella saw the flatbeds in question, and quickly moved them out of the way. “Great! Now, Hank, can you get out yet?” The diesel was speaking to a blue engine like no engine Ella had ever seen. He had a red cowcatcher, and several bells and whistles. “Yep, ah’ can, Bear.” The engine looked at Ella. “Howdy, partner! Ah’m Hank.” When Ella finally found her voice all that came out was “You’re American?” Hank chuckled. “An’ proud of it, lil’ miss. That diesel over down yonder? His name’s Bear, but he don’t bite like one!” Hank chuckled again. “I heard that!” The diesel apparently named Bear yelled. His remark was punctuated by a loud growling noise.
Ella jumped! Hank was sympathetic. “He ain’t nothin’ to be frightened of, missy. His engine’s just mighty loud sometimes.” “I can see that.” “I’m Ella.” She added hastily. Bear rolled up alongside. Ella noticed something odd about him. “You have a beard!” Bear smiled. “Yes, I do. I felt like just another green diesel, so I grew this!” Before Ella could quiz him further, Bear continued. “Anyway, we’re glad to have you on the team, Ella. Let’s get to work, shall we?”
The three engines took to the task with fervor. Bear cleared the vans and open wagons, Ella unloaded the giant container liners, and the two of them would help Hank haul the heavy trains away.
As they finally completed the job, Ella was charmed by the tiny dockside. It wasn’t overly crowded, but it was somewhat quiet and fun, content with it’s day’s work. Bear cruised up on the line next to hers. “Beautiful, isn’t it? I think this is the prettiest place on the whole island when the sun sets.” Ella couldn’t agree with him more.
When they finished watching the bright display of colors, Bear spoke up. “You know, I’ve never seen anyone learn this dockside faster than you. How did you do it?” Ella laughed. “I’ve always had a good memory for details. After just seeing this network for the first time, there’s a map of it in my head!” Bear smiled. “You sound like the opposite of Sidney!” “Who,” Ella wondered, “Is Sidney?” “Sidney’s our normal shunter. He’s a nice chap, but very forgetful. I think he would benefit from a simpler route.” “My route is too simple for me. I’d love something a little less… predictable.” “Maybe you two could switch?” Bear suggested.
They were interrupted by the arrival of Mrs. Atkinson. “Ella, you’ve done a fine job today. Without you, I doubt Bear and Hank could’ve cleared the backlog out. You are certainly a credit to your line, and I’m going to recommend you to Sir Stephen for a commendation.” Ella blushed. “Thank you, Miss. But I didn’t do it alone. Your engines showed me the ropes and made me feel welcome here.” “Yes, they did a fantastic job. Bear, you especially helped get our line out of a very sticky situation. You were, shall I say, a roaring success!” The Manager of the Kirk Ronan branch line chuckled, then sighed. “I only wish Sidney could be this helpful all the time.” She had made up her mind. Jean Atkinson was going to speak to the Fat Controller later that night.
When Ella finally returned to Norramby, Arthur and Nia greeted her with several hearty blasts of their whistles. Ella whistled back, and found that Mr. Houston was waiting for her at the sheds. “Ella, I heard you did very well down at Kirk Ronan. Three cheers for our very own V2!” The fishermen gave her the three cheers, but that wasn’t what Ella was thinking about. Her mind had drifted back to Kirk Ronan; it’s quaint dockside, and its quirky but kind engines.
That night in the sheds, Ella was unusually quiet. Nia picked up on this quickly. “Is something bothering you, Ella?” Ella was startled. “How did you know?” Nia smiled. “I’m very good at reading engines. You looked like something was clouding up your smokebox.” Ella explained about Kirk Ronan, knowing that she could trust Nia to listen.
“-And it’s just so nice down there!” “Not that here isn’t nice,” She added hastily, “But I just want to work there full-time, and oh, Nia, what should I do?” Nia was thoughtful for a minute. “You said that Bear suggested you and Sidney switch? Something about this line being ‘too simple’ for you, or something?” Ella blushed. “I didn’t mean it in that way-” Nia cut her off. “I know you didn’t, Ella. But I think this switch is a very good idea.” “How would I pull it off, though?” Ella asked impatiently, but not without letting her worries creep into her voice. She had matured a great deal since her arrival, but this wasn’t something she could solve on her own. She needed the help of an older, smarter engine. In other words, Nia was perfect.
Nia thought long and hard about the problem. At last, needing another engine to help solve Ella’s dilemma, she brought the problem before Arthur while Ella took the morning train, as had become their routine. “I’ll see what I can do,” He promised.
But a full day went by, and neither engine had a solution. Ella kept quietly grateful in the sheds, as they tossed around several ideas. She felt bad, trying to leave her friends at Norramby. And yet here they were, trying to help make her happy.
Finally, Arthur hit upon a possible solution. “What you need, Ella, is a transfer request.” “What’s that, Arthur?” Ella asked curiously. “Driver says it’s a piece of paper that gets sent to the Fat Controller. On it, you request to be transferred to a different branch line. If both you and Sidney filled this out, we might be able to convince him to switch the two of you!” Ella pondered this for a moment. “It just might work! I’ll ask Fred to nab one of those papers tomorrow.”
Fred Gellately, driver of the Norramby branch’s V2, Ella, arrived at work at his typical hour. But something seemed off. He walked over to the engine sheds and opened the door… only to find his engine wide awake! “Hi, Fred!” She whispered excitedly. Fred chuckled. Twenty five years of working with the LNER Trust, and he’d never met an engine as unique as Ella. “What’s got you so worked up this morning, Ella? You’re usually fast asleep when I get here.” The young tender engine quickly explained about the transfer request idea. Fred listened intently, waiting for Ella to finish. “Sure, I’ll grab one of those, and you can guide me through filling it out. Trouble’s going to be convincing that Sidney fellow and his crew to do it, too.” Ella had already thought ahead in case he brought that up. “We’ll send him a letter on Percy’s post train. It stops at most stations on Sodor, so we’re sure to catch him at Crovan’s Gate.” Fred laughed. “You really planned this out, didn’t you, girl?” “I had help,” Ella admitted, “The idea was Arthur’s.” Her Driver smiled. “Well, let’s get cracking, shall we?” And so they did.
Percy smiled. His mail run was another routine that he didn’t like to switch up very often. Everything was running like clockwork as he pulled into Crovan’s Gate station, still fresh from a detour up to Peel Godred. The porters loaded and unloaded the mail as usual, but Percy noticed an unfamiliar man on the platform. He was clutching an official-looking envelope in his hands, and wore the uniform of a Driver. The man walked up to Percy. “Excuse me, Percy, but would you mind dropping off this letter at the Vicarstown Dieselworks? It’s for Sidney.” Percy gulped. During the day, the Dieselworks was intimidating enough. At night, it must have been terrifying. But Sidney was a friend of his, and he wanted to know what the letter was for. He asked the Driver, but he simply replied with, “It’s to help a friend.” Seeing as there was no real reason to say no, Percy promised to add a quick stop at the Dieselworks to his route.
Sidney slowly woke up the next morning. Where was he? Oh, right. The Dieselworks, in his shed. Why was he here again? Oh, well. Didn’t matter now. What mattered was that today was special.. for some reason he couldn’t remember. His crew walked up to him. “Um, hello? Who are you again?” It was an old joke. When they had first met, Sidney had struggled to remember his new crew’s names. But, as time passed, they had settled themselves firmly into his long-term memory, which was much better than his short-term.
Why did Sidney need two crew members, instead of just one like a normal diesel shunter? Chuck’s job was to drive him, and John’s was to keep him focused on his job so that he didn’t forget or lose track of it. “Hey, Sid! Wait til you get a load of this! Some engine from the Norramby branch sent you a letter!” John waved it excitedly. “Read it to me, will you?” Sidney requested. And here is what Percy’s unexpected delivery said inside:
Dear Sidney, Enclosed is a piece of paper that will allow you to transfer to the Norramby line. I think you will like this line more than your current job at Kirk Ronan, as it is easy to remember. I’m also asking you a little favor, because I would really love to work at your current job.
“Well? Whaddya think, Sid?” Chuck asked excitedly. John chuckled. “Easy there, Chuck. Let Sidney think it over for a bit.” The blue 08 closed his eyes and let the details sink in. Could this possibly be true? No more having to remember which siding was which every second. Just him, two other engines, and a nice, simple seaside line. “It’s perfect!” He burst out. “Chuck, fill that piece of paper out. Destination.. Um, where was it again?” John smiled. “Norramby, Sid.” But Sidney wasn’t finished. “And send a reply letter- tell that nice engine ‘Thank you, from Sidney.” Chuck finished scribbling. “Yes, sir!” He replied with a mock salute.
Stephen Hatt, out of routine, checked his mailbox with a sigh. More letters from the Inspectors. But two of these letters had odd return addresses… the Norramby engine sheds and the Vicarstown Dieselworks? He took them inside, intrigued.
Stephen opened the letter from Norramby first. Inside was an official piece of paper. Wait a moment… Was that the symbol of a transfer request? Goggle-eyed, he brought himself to read the letter.
This is a request to Sir Stephen Hatt for the transfer of Ella from the Norramby Branch Line to the Kirk Ronan Branch Line.
The Fat Controller shook his head with laughter. Talk about a funny coincidence! He read the second letter.
This is a request to Sir Stephen Hatt for the transfer of Sidney from the Kirk Ronan Branch Line to the Norramby Branch Line.
Now Stephen was laughing so loudly, his wife Helen poked her head into the door! “Is everything alright, dear?” “Everything is fine.” He promised. Now, he had a trip to plan.
The next evening, Sir Stephen Hatt caught Gordon’s evening express, and got off at Crovan’s Gate. He waited for Arthur.
When Arthur finally puffed in, he was red in the face and two minutes late. “Get in quickly, please!” Then he noticed the Fat Controller on the platform. “Sir! I’m so sorry! There was a holdup at the Junction, and-” The Fat Controller cut him off. “No need, Arthur. Accidents do happen, after all.” He smiled ruefully. “As I know all too well.” Stephen climbed aboard, and Arthur set off down his branch line.
But when Arthur made his final stop at Norramby, the Fat Controller climbed into his cab and took a ride with the LMS tank engine back to the Engine Sheds. He clambered out, and made a beeline for Ella. “Ella, you start work at Kirk Ronan in a week. Nia, this means you’ll have to work a few of the passenger trains. Is that alright?” Ella was shocked! “Sir! Does this mean-” He smiled. “Yes.”
The Fat Controller held his ears as Ella, Nia and Arthur whistled with ecstasy! When they were done, Ella had a question for Sir Stephen. “How did you get Mrs. Atkinson to approve the switch, Sir? I thought Sidney was Kirk Ronan’s designated shunter.” He smiled. “Actually, Jean was the one who brought up the possibility of you two switching. She admired your work ethic, and she wasn’t the happiest with how Sidney was doing. Getting the request letters cemented the switch.” Ella only grinned.
That night in the sheds, Ella was a bit sad. This time, Arthur picked up on it first. “What’s wrong, Ella? I thought you’d be happy that you got your transfer to Kirk Ronan.” The V2 sighed. “I just feel a bit guilty. You and Nia fought so hard to make me happy, and here I am, leaving you.” Arthur grinned. “What matters is that you’re happy, Ella. Besides, it’s not like we’ll never see each other again.” Nia quickly chimed into the conversation. “In fact, Ella, I may just have an idea to make the change easier for you.”
Two days later, Bear shunted the well wagon Sidney was on to the back of his goods train. “Shame you’re leaving us, Sid.” The 08 gave him a guilty smile. “It’s fine, Bear. I don’t mind.” Bear just wondered who the replacement engine would be.
As Bear cruised down the line, a streak of sky blue rocketed past him. “I never knew Gordon was allowed down here!” Bear muttered. Sidney smiled mysteriously. “Gordon isn’t that shade of blue, Bear.”
When the bearded Hymek pulled back into the Docks, he saw that the sky-blue engine from earlier was not, in fact, Gordon. As he rolled closer, he thought he recognized the engine…
“Hi, Bear!” Now, the Class 35 jumped! “Ella! You’re Sidney’s replacement?” She smiled at him. “Yup! And it’s permanent!” Bear smiled graciously. “Glad to have you here, Ella. Now, let’s get to work.” And they did, happy and content with their shared home.
TFTAB Book 1: The New Gresley Engine was my first attempt at writing a book in the style of the Railway Series. All I had when I went into it was a basic outline in my head for a character named Ella, a basis for her in the LNER V2, and a map of the Island of Sodor.
Originally, Ella’s story arc was going to center around her struggling to fit in, with the need to fit in being her defining personality trait. The map of Sodor came in when I was trying to locate her, and I came across two branch lines that aren’t talked about too often: the Kirk Ronan line and the Norramby line. So, I had a setting. But where was the story?
The first chapter came quite naturally to me, but the second did not. I had to set up a conflict, resolve it, and develop Ella’s wide-eyed personality. With him being the more stuck up of the two engines stationed at Norramby, Arthur was the right choice. An extra wrinkle was Arthur’s status as a former LMS engine. But, it all worked out.
Amazingly, the third and fourth chapters went by quickly. However, my climactic chapter, A Transfer Request, ended up having to be split into two different stories! All was well, though, and I finished Ella’s first set of stories. And, looking back, it’s hard to describe Ella’s personality. She’s a complex character, and, in my opinion, that makes her all the more relatable. Because most people don’t have a defining character trait- they are who they are. And Ella’s saga is far from over, as is this Universe! Be on the lookout for a certain Warship, some Electrics, and more!
Feedback is very much appreciated, so sound off in those comments!
MrMilkDuctor: Most of them are hit era which I don’t mind since this is the I grew up on
Sept 21, 2021 19:07:34 GMT
aspiegurl: IDK where you are but it aired first the year I was born and in reruns until '98. It's on Youtube and there's a wikia for it.
Sept 21, 2021 21:20:27 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: I was born in the 2000s so i I didn’t even watch the reruns from 1993 - 1998, as I said the only time I watch shining time STS was probably on a unknown channel but hey that’s cool to hear
Sept 21, 2021 22:02:48 GMT
dtchapman1: I suppose that is one thing we do have to consider on this forum now. We are pretty much at a point that new members are going to have grown up largely with the HiT era.
Sept 21, 2021 22:26:37 GMT
Two Red Engines: Me, I was born in '96. I didn't really see the episodes when they were first broadcast (Dad's job took us overseas), but I had several VHS tapes from S1-8 - including the AUS releases of Thomas & Gordon, Percy & Harold, Trust Thomas,...
Sept 21, 2021 23:22:57 GMT
Two Red Engines: Story & Song Collection, and Thomas & The Special Letter!
Sept 21, 2021 23:23:27 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: The hit era is actually decent compare to what we have now also the merchandise was just incredible
Sept 21, 2021 23:33:57 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: Two red engines i had only Like 5 DVD’s when I was young sadly I lost 3 of them hopefully you kept all of your VHS tapes
Sept 21, 2021 23:37:21 GMT
Two Red Engines: Thanks! I think I managed to keep most of them (mainly the individual S1-4 releases, as well as my Series 5 box set), as well as two DVDs, an S1-5 compilation ('Truck Loads of Fun') and a Series 6 release, ('The Chocolate Crunch')...
Sept 21, 2021 23:41:07 GMT
Two Red Engines: ...but some were lost to time, and others (mainly the S8 releases!) were just simply given away. Still have about 5 VHS releases (6 if you count the fact that my S5 box set came with two tapes) and those two DVDs, though, so not too bad in my opinion.
Sept 21, 2021 23:42:55 GMT
Two Red Engines: Say, anyone still got copies of their Railway Series books? Me, I've still got my 1997 edition of 'The Complete Collection' (the Gawdry version!), as well as RWS volumes 31, 32 and 40 (along with some stories from RWS 28 and 30 from the TTTE Book Club).
Sept 21, 2021 23:45:44 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: Solid collection right there!
Sept 22, 2021 0:05:56 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: I have the complete first series of the classic collection DVD from 2003 the one that has a menu option,I might post that later and a another one from the hit era a steam team DVD these are the only ones I still have .
Sept 22, 2021 0:06:33 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: Classic Thomas is gonna come back?
Sept 22, 2021 10:15:53 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: Or did I just read that in a wrong way
Sept 22, 2021 10:19:38 GMT
whosgeoffrey: I'm personally inclined to think of it as just another one of Allcroft's very heart-warming messages to the adult fanbase. If she is doing something new with Thomas, I doubt it'll be new episodes, though — maybe the biography she mentioned some time ago?
Sept 22, 2021 12:36:14 GMT
MrMilkDuctor: Yeah that could be true
Sept 22, 2021 13:17:21 GMT