Sorry for the delay, school got in the way of finishing this one off.
Never before had one engine's return been met with such levels of both joy and nervous tension.
Toby and Flora were waiting at the quarry, watching as Mavis descended down the hill in the distance and rolled into the quarry in near silence, as many diesels do. She was greeted with silence as well, for the usual cheers and whistles and ringing bells that were used whenever an engine returned did not seem right at this moment, and the sombre greeting was enough to tell Mavis something was wrong.
"Hello," the diesel shunter said, sounding nervous as she came to a stop at the station, surveying the scene before her. Men were busy working behind dealing with stone and trucks, while several long lines had been shunted into the sidings waiting to be taken down to Ffarqhuar. It was a strange sight to see all three engines here not doing anything, but Toby and Flora tried to keep their smiles on their faces.
"Hello Mavis!" Toby said excitedly. "It is wonderful to see your back! You were away for longer than we expected."
"They didn't have the right brakes for me, and they had to call several places before they got the right parts," Mavis explained, her face showing she still wasn't certain about what was going on.
"That's a pity, we missed you," Flora said sympathetically. "I took my first train of trucks while you were gone though, and Toby's old luggage van Elsie was brought by the Fat Controller. Nothing major has happened here asides from the expansion, so you –"
"What is going on here?" Mavis asked, her tone riddled with suspicion. "Why are both of you here, and why do you have your coaches? Thomas said something about enthusiasts being here, but why would they come to the quarry?" Toby and Flora exchanged nervous looks, and their coaches began to whisper behind them, not quite sure what to tell the diesel. Mavis gulped as she glanced between, her mind once again drifting back to the look on the Fat Controller's face when she had left Knapford Station, the same look that she had dwelled over constantly during her extended stay at Crovan's Gate. It seemed Mavis' worst fears about the financial problems had come true, and Toby and Flora were here to deliver the worst news.
"Actually Mavis, we will be having some enthusiasts here in at the end of the week," a voice said to the side, and all eyes turned as the manager of the quarry, Mr Stark, as he stepped out of his office and onto the platform. "Welcome back Mavis, it is a pleasure to see you again. And you arrived back just in time to hear the exciting news."
"There are going to be enthusiasts at the quarry?" Mavis asked.
"Quite right," Mr Stark said with a nod. "You are of course unaware, but the quarry has fallen into a touch of debt as we wait for our work to be completed and our payments to be fully paid. We are struggling to afford our new equipment and to pay our workers, so I was just having a crisis meeting with the Fat Controller, several of our bank managers, the owner, and I invited the drivers out of courtesy to see what they could offer." Mavis glanced over at Toby and Flora, wondering how the situation could have gotten so serious, and she could see the trams still looked shaken even though they must have known how bad things were getting.
"We have reached the decision that a special 'Open Day' will be held as a fundraiser next week," Mr Stark continued. "The enthusiasts will be brought up by Toby and Flora, and then we will show people around the quarry in special open trucks and brake vans, like the China Clay quarry does at times. They have had great success with it, and we shall expect the same."
"That sounds like a nice idea, but the quarry isn't that interesting," Flora pointed out. "I don't think people are going to want to come here." Toby looked shocked at the suggestion and glared at his fellow tram, but Mr Stark only laughed.
"Fair enough Flora," he chuckled. "Don't worry, there will be enough things there to keep people entertained and draw them here. You will be told of your roles later in the week, so listen out for them!" The engines all nodded and smiled, but once he had turned back into the station, their faces all sunk. All three of them looked gloomy, wondering about the outcome of the Open Day and if it would be enough to save their line.
"Welcome back Mavis," Toby mumbled sadly.
"Thanks," Mavis replied quietly, staring around at the dusty, noisy environment that had been her home for longer than she could remember, wondering how long she would be able to stay here.
"I agree with Flora," Henrietta said aloud several days later as Toby took his Vintage Train down to Knapford. Preparations for the Open Day were in full swing, and the engines had heard that food stalls were being set up in the car park and buskers would be performing inside and around the station. Many tourists were still on the island despite the summer sunshine slowly slipping away, and the enthusiasts had had the trip added to their plan, and there were high hopes that it would be a success, though some never see the bright side in things.
"Agree with her about what?" Toby asked huffily. While Victoria had reacted positively, Henrietta had failed to see the bright side of the plan.
"Who is going to want to hang out in a quarry?" Henrietta replied as if the answer was obvious. "The trucks are always noisy, the machines are noisy, there is always dust in the air, and they would be outside all day during summer! I can barely stand being in there for more than five minutes during this weather, imagine how unbearable it will be for a whole day!"
"Be quiet Henrietta, the passengers might hear you!" Victoria scolded. Toby sighed as they passed underneath the bridge leading towards Knapford Harbour, already knowing he needed to stop for water sometime soon to fill his already emptying tanks. The tram didn't want to admit Henrietta was right, but there had been doubts in the back of his mind about this Open Day since it was announced, and he could only wonder just how great of an idea it is.
"I do not mean to complain about it, but I am just worried, that is all," Henrietta replied, a touch of sadness in her voice. "If the Open Day does not work, than how will the quarry and then the tramway stay open? I just do not want to have to go through what happened with our last railway and end up being sent away."
"Don't talk like that!" Victoria gasped. "I am sure the Fat Controller won't get rid of us all if the quarry closes. There is the extension being built as we speak, so he will need engines to do trains there!"
"Why would he keep an old tram and some old coaches we he can trade us in for a flash, high speed engine like Pip and Emma?" Henrietta replied, causing Toby to shiver. The coach was showing a lot more insight than he would have expected, and it was quite uncomfortable hearing these things even though there was some truth in them. "I just want to know that they are not going to try and turn me into a hen house again!"
"A hen house?" Toby said, confused, but the pieces clicked together and he began to laugh. "Ah, that's right! The stationmaster wanted to turn you into a hen house, I completely forgot about that!"
"Well I never have," Henrietta huffed as Victoria began to laugh as well, Knapford Station coming into view.
"I always thought you would have looked good in feathers," Toby joked, and Victoria was unable to control herself and laughed even harder. Henrietta didn't seem impressed, but by the time Toby had pulled up to the platform to wait for James, she was laughing along with them as well.
"No matter what happens Henrietta," Toby called out as he paused for breath, "we will at least have our fond memories of this line and our last. But I can guarantee that we three will never be split up, even if the quarry and the tramway close down and we get sent away. If one of us leaves, we all leave!"
"And if we all get turned into firewood, than we can make a very lovely bonfire," Henrietta added, and the three were unable to stop themselves from laughing as the coaches knew that what Toby had said was right, and they would still have each other even if their line closed.
It seemed that the days flied by as the Open Day came closer and closer. Maybe this was because all the engines, not just the trams, knew how serious the situation was, and they wanted to enjoy their time together before in case things got worse. But, the more time they wanted to spend with each other, the faster time slipped away from them.
It seemed like the discussion about the Open Day had only been the previous day when Toby slid into Ffarqhuar Station with Henrietta, Victoria and Elsie coupled behind. The coaches had been decorated with streamers and bunting in varying colours to add to the festive feeling, and Toby's bell had been polished to shine like gold and a banner reading "ANOPHA QUARRY" hang from his roof.
The passengers waiting to be taken to the Open Day crowded the platform, and Toby was worried that they might fall over the side there were so many, and he could see more trying to get up. There was always a chance they were waiting for Thomas or Rosie with the normal Sunday trains, but Toby was feeling optimistic that he and Flora were going to have full trains for the whole day.
This does seem an awful lot like the last day on my old line, Toby thought as he came to a stop, putting a smile on his face to match the excitement level flowing from the station, though his memory was shooting back many decades: the excited, crowded platform, everyone turning up to farewell him and Toby, the very people who hadn't turned up beforehand in order for the line to stay open. Toby couldn't help but wonder if all these people were here for some last-chance effort to see the engines before the line closed.
Now don't think that, Toby told himself. They want to see the line stay open, just like we all do! Try and stay positive, and this day will just turn out wonderfully!
"This is all so exciting!" Henrietta cried excitedly behind as her doors were open from the inside and the people on the platform poured in in an un-orderly fashion. "I did not think anyone would want to go to the quarry, but this is an amazing turn out! I can see the quarry surviving on this Toby, we are going to get turned into hen houses just yet!"
"No, I don't think we are," Toby laughed, forcing his negative thoughts out of his mind as he smiled at some excitable children on the platform. By the looks of things, there were going to be many trains heading towards Anopha today, and it was a reassuring site. The tram had seen attractions being delivered by Elizabeth and several other lorries the previous day, and it looked as if the day was going to be as big as promised.
The guard's whistle blew once Henrietta and Victoria were fill to bursting, and some people even made it onto Elsie, and Toby set out with his bell chiming and the passengers all cheering in delight as Flora made her way forwards to take over.
"Today is going to be a good day," Toby called back to his train as they left the yard, the sun shining overhead. "I am not sure just how big it will get, but I think that if it all goes well, we'll be sticking around for a few years yet!" The three all cheered back, and Toby began to move down the tramway feeling happy, wondering if his words were true.
By the third time Toby arrived at Anopha that day, the quarry was fill of more people than he had ever seen within the rocky walls.
As he pulled up with Henrietta, Victoria and Elsie, the number of people there was instantly visible: smiling tourists and enthusiasts seemed to out number the normal workers by a vast majority as they wandered across the sidings and through the different attractions brought out to draw them down. There were many different food stalls, a variety of buskers spread out and many different performances. Mavis was collecting her truck shuttle passengers out from a platform erected in the sidings, and it seemed that the queue for them was longer than any train Toby had ever pulled.
"This is going brilliantly!" Toby cried, his smile stretching wide across his face. All his worries about the day crept slowly out of his mind as he looked around at all the happy people putting money towards keeping the line open.
"I knew it would go well!" Victoria called out. "Just look at all these people: they've turned up and they're having fun! What have you got to say to that Henrietta?" The blue coach said cheekily, and they all laughed, even Henrietta, once again all unable to help themselves. There was no reason to feel down when the day was going so well, and now that all the trains had finished, Toby could actually stay and enjoy the day, maybe even lend his coaches to Mavis if the day got any hotter.
There was a soft whistle and the tram looked around as Flora pulled up in front of him. Her yellow paint only looked brighter amongst the light coloured rocks and the summer sun that was beaming down upon them, and Toby flashed a smile to match. However, it began to droop when he saw that she did not return his excitement.
"What's wrong?" Toby asked in hushed tones.
"A load of stone was supposed to be taken across to the site of our line's extension," Flora explained quickly. "Mr Stark completely forgot about it as he arranged this, and he needs one of us to take it out straight away." Toby sighed, a mixture of relief and annoyance. It was good that it wasn't a serious issue, but he did want to stay around and enjoy the Open Day.
"Alright, I will take it," Toby said, trying to remain positive as a number of enthusiasts rushed around, the flashes of their cameras hurting his eyes after only a few seconds. "I will just have to shunt these three out of the way then. I am sure Mr … could find some use for them."
"A sun shelter?" Elsie suggested, and they all chuckled again as Toby began to move forwards. The flashes of cameras followed him, and more started up as the crowd left the tracks so he and Flora, reversing backwards, could get through safely.
"It's a good thing we've got our cow catchers and side plates today, isn't it?" Flora mumbled, looking around at all the people crossing the tracks. "It's not very safe with all these people crossing the tracks, is it?"
"I would rather not think about that," Toby replied solemnly, glancing around at everyone and wondering how well organized things were if people were running wild and there were important trains being ignored. But the tram had to ignore these thoughts, wanting to focus on the positive outcomes of the day rather than worry if it would come together nicely or not.
"Hang on a second," Toby's driver said suddenly. "What are those boys doing over there?" He asked. Toby glanced across, but he only briefly saw a group of about four boys climbing onto the stone trucks that waited to be whisked away before Peach obscured his vision. "Oi Mitch, tell those boys to scram!" Toby's driver said angrily. "Is anyone actually minding those children, though they shouldn't have the opportunity to get anywhere near the trucks! Does Stark know what he's doing?"
"I am sure he is doing his best," Toby replied with a slight sigh, he himself annoyed about the bad safety practices, knowing any situation would be enough to ruin the whole day. Flora came to a stop alongside the truck, and her driver, Mitch, leaned out of her cab.
"You boys shouldn't be playing on there, get off!" He growled, drawing the attention of several workers, tourists and others standing around. The boys jumped as if they had just been shocked, and suddenly they were off, leaping off the truck and running away as fast as possible. However, the sleeves on one of their jackets caught on the lock that kept the side of the truck locked into place. The frightened boy yelped and looked at Mitch in fear, almost as if the driver was coming after him, and he fiddled with the lock as he tried to free himself.
"Wait, no!" Flora gasped as she saw what was happening, but it was too late: the boy pulled the lock, freeing his sleeve but unintentionally freeing the rock. Workers cried out, tourists screamed and Mitch swore and leapt backwards as rocks cascaded onto the ground and onto Flora. Toby shut his eyes as a wave of dust swept over him, and Henrietta began to wail in protest, a general sound of confusion and worry beginning to sound up around them.
Before the dust had settled, Toby knew everything was wrong. He could imagine the mothers of the little boys trying to blame the situation on the quarry, and though the trucks should have been monitored better, the blame did not lie fully with the quarry. But the results would spread, and it was likely people would want to leave now. However, Toby had heard another sound over the screams and falling stone: a metallic thud, and he had been around long enough to never trust a metallic thud on a railway.
And his suspicions came true once the dust had settled, apparently all over the poor old tram. Toby glanced over, and he quickly saw the pained expression on Flora's face as the stone from the truck lay piled up to her buffers. Workers were already rushing forward as the crowd retreated, and Toby's crew leapt over to join Mitch and Flora's fireman.
"It's my side plate and cow catcher!" Flora moaned. The workers began moving away the rocks, revealing huge dents in her red metal work. Toby was shocked and felt sorry for Flora, knowing this would mean a trip to the works, but his attention was drawn away by the crowds surrounding them. Many people were gathering around, whispering to each other about the situation. Cameras flashed again to take in the scene, and it was likely a reporter was amongst the crowd to do an article on the Open Day. What a scoop this will be¸ Toby thought grumpily. It seemed unfair that they had gone to all this work just for everything to be ruined halfway through the day, Anopha Quarry's future once again becoming uncertain.
"We really didn't need this," Mitch growled. "We were supposed to be taking passengers home in about five minutes! How are we supposed to do that when Flora can't even move?"
"And there are going to be plenty of people leaving after this," Toby's fireman muttered grimly, staring around at all the whispering faces. Toby was starting to get nervous: the day was only going to get worse unless something was done, and the tram knew that actions had to be taken before this one incident ruined the rest of the quarry.
"I will take passengers back down to Ffarqhuar as well as the stone trucks," Toby cried out, making sure both crews were able to hear him. Flora and Peach both gasped, and muttering sounded up behind him.
"Toby, do you think that's wise?" Victoria asked. "Your tanks are only small, and this would be quite a heavy job. Do you think you'd be able to make it there?" Toby knew this was true, but he also knew that something needed to be done to turn the day around. With Flora out of action and Mavis busy with the main attraction of the day, this left everything up to Toby, and the weight of a few trucks and coaches was nothing compared to having the fate of the quarry resting on him.
Within only a few minutes, Toby had managed to turn around on a loop, and was now heading in the direction of Ffarqhuar Station, his coaches coupled behind and a long line of trucks coupled behind them. It had been heavy work even making it over here, but Toby was ready to leave and nothing was going to stop him, not even the high amounts of dust covering his body.
"Toby, you don't really have to do this," Mr Stark said as passengers, a mixture of disgruntled, curious and just ready to leave, climbed onboard Henrietta and Victoria. "I can put a call in and have the stone delivered once things have calmed down here."
"I am sure you could, but that's not what I want to do," Toby replied. He glanced around at the station, the trucks shunted in the siding, the hills and rocky mountains surrounding them and knew that he had to do this. A bad reputation would only sink the quarry faster, and Toby was old and wise enough to know that combining that with the debt would have things shut down before anyone knew what had happened.
"Well, if you insist, than good luck," Mr Stark said, and turned away to talk to the parents of the misbehaving boys. Toby looked towards the path in front, ready to do whatever it took to save the quarry. His crew were as determined as him and remained silent as they got him ready for the journey ahead, while Henrietta, Victoria and Elsie remained respectfully silent.
A guard's whistle blew, and suddenly they were off.
Toby instantly felt the strain of his train as he moved forwards, gaining speed as he slid out of the quarry. There was the familiar flash of cameras, and Toby noticed some cars were racing away with people ready to take photos of him. They can chronicle the quarry's downfall, how nice of them, Toby thought bitterly, but was glad that he had made it out of the quarry. The track ahead was all on flat land, and Toby knew he could cross it easily no matter what the train was, though today there was a different pull from the heavy trains, the couplings all pulled tight as the trucks weighed them down.
"The hill is coming up Toby, are you ready?" His driver called.
"Why not," Toby replied dryly, and his crew laughed. Toby smirked to himself as he eyed the incline ahead of him, wondering how many times he had crossed this hill and if it had ever had been as important as it was now. But he remained relaxed as it came closer and closer, and it seemed all too sudden as he began to move on an angle, his view changing from a dusty hill to the cloudless sky above.
Within seconds, things became difficult. The coaches were barely on the hill when Toby began to struggle, the weight of the trucks causing him to slow down. It was impossible to move up the hill if you were going too slowly, and Toby found his wheels spinning wildly, all of his energy going into something as simple as this.
"Hang in there, you just need more steam," the fireman shouted, and Toby felt his tanks empty slightly as more water moved through him, his firebox heating it up and sending more steam towards his wheels.
"You can do this Toby," Henrietta whispered from behind as they jerked forwards, slowly starting to move once again. "Put it this way: if you get over the other side, you won't have to be a hen house!"
"Being a hen house sounds quite nice at the moment," Toby grunted, going red in the face as he strained with his heavy train. It was reassuring to know things were moving now, but Toby was putting a lot of effort into a relatively simple task and the path ahead didn't look so good.
"Come on Toby, you can do it!" A shout sounded from behind, a voice Toby didn't recognize. As he pondered who it might be, more shouts sounded from behind: cheers of encouragement, everyone shouting about 'You can do it!' or 'Make it over this hill!'
"The passengers are all cheering for you!" Victoria cried in delight. "Come on Toby, let's do it for them!"
"Show these trucks that a hill can't conquer you!" Elsie yelled.
"Show it to the hen houses!" Henrietta boomed in such a dramatic way Toby couldn't tell if she was serious or not, but he let out a laugh anyway that quickly turned into a grunt, pulling hard on the train. He had always wanted the quarry to stay open so he could stay together with his friends: Flora, Mavis, Henrietta, Victoria, Peach and now Elsie. But Toby had never wondered about the passengers and how they might feel if this iconic little tramway with its famous trams shut down. Maybe they hadn't shown up today to farewell them all, but in fact to save them…
"COME ON TOBY!" Toby growled to himself, and he shut his eyes and sent columns of grey smoke shooting up that managed to block the sun for the coaches. His wheels spun madly, and he wondered if there were enough sparks flying to melt through his cow catchers. But suddenly, Toby felt the ground level out, and he opened his eyes to see they had reached the top of the hill. The coaches led the cheers, and Toby smiled with relief as his crew sent his bell clanging so loudly that it echoed across the fields around them, heard all the way from the quarry to Ffarqhuar for everyone to know that Toby had succeeded.
It was with great relief that Toby merely sailed down the hill, his train rattling along behind him, and he managed to make it towards the level crossing. It was only then that his tanks emptied, trying to get up the hill using more water than anticipated. Toby managed to get his train all the way across the crossing, allowing Mr Willis to drive past in his wife's car, before coming to a stop on the other side. Thomas was sent to the rescue, and some passengers got annoyed at the delay, but many of them knew that this was a truly momentous occasion for Toby, a triumph for the old tram and the tramway itself. Toby never usually felt proud of himself, and being covered in dust was never a good time to feel happy, but he couldn't help but feel that he had achieved something when it came to saving the quarry.
He only wondered if it had been enough.
The next few weeks were painful. The fate of Anopha Quarry had not yet been decided, the results of the Open Day being kept under wraps. Flora was sent away to be repaired, and an empty Crovan's Gate had her back in a week, though her new plates were still grey. But she came back expecting news and got none, only told, as well as Toby and Mavis, to keep working and wait for an announcement. But the three could barely concentrate, always wondering if they were going to stay or go, thinking about Flora's accident and Toby coming to a stop, wondering if something had happened to change things.
It wasn't until the morning exactly two weeks after the Open Day. Drivers and firemen were arriving to get the engines ready, and Toby and Flora were waiting just outside their slots in the sheds. Thomas, Percy and Rosie were chattering excitedly while Daisy had already left to take the early morning train and milk van, but the two trams lay silent, wondering, as always, if they would still be here in a few weeks time.
Suddenly, a horn cut through the early morning air, and everyone looked around as Mavis slid into Ffarqhuar Station, a load of stone behind her. This wasn't an entirely unusual sight as stone was brought down whenever it was ready, but Toby and Flora were stunned to recognise Mr Stark in her cab alongside her driver, and were even more shocked when a familiar stout figure climbed aboard as well.
"Does this mean…?" Flora asked, unable to finish her sentence, but Toby gave a curt nod, watching as Mavis was uncoupled and began to work her way across the tracks towards them. Whether good or bad, their fates were about to be decided.
Mavis pulled up in front of them, her face blank, though there was a slight twinkle in her eye that Toby wasn't sure of. He remained silent as The Fat Controller and Mr Stark walked forwards, both of them holding something under their arms. The tense silence could be cut with a knife, everyone listening in to see what was going to happen.
"Being the owner and controller of what could be considered a heritage railway in some aspects, I generally keep up with the latest news in the world of engine restorations and lines around the world," the Fat Controller explained. "One of my magazines arrived a few nights ago, and I thought I would have more interesting tales about some engine being rebuilt in Wales or a new line opening up in America. Instead, I found a rather interesting front cover." Toby and Flora were both confused, but that turned to a gasp as he unfurled a magazine. It was called BRITISH HERITAGE RAILWAYS, and the front cover consisted of a very dusty tram that was red in the face moving up a hill, brown and blue coaches behind it. The heading said J70 TRAM ON SODOR SAVES OPEN DAY, and Toby was embarrassed at how long it took him to click things together.
"A J70 tram still in service is a rare thing," the Fat Controller said, "and many people would like to see one of the few that still is going stick around. The article talks about the Open Day and the reasons behind it, and this magazine has been sent to enthusiasts all around Great Britain. Donations have already begun pouring in to help with these trams, and I am pleased to say that there is more than enough money to keep Anopha Quarry open until the payments have come in."
"Wait, does this mean... YES!" Flora cried in delight, and her bell joined Toby's, as well as the whistles, horns and general shouts of delight that now spread throughout the yard. The Fat Controller and Mr Stark smiled broadly, though the controller held his hand to silence them all.
"I did say that there was more than enough money coming in," he said, "so I need to find a way to spend it all. Mr Stark and I decided that we will treat Toby to repair works for the rest of the summer season to ensure that he is in top condition."
"Thank you sir," Toby said, unable to stop himself from smiling.
"And, we have decided to do something extra special," Mr Stark added, and he unfurled a piece of paper that was under his arm. Toby and Flora gasped once again as they looked at the sketch before them: it showed a giant sign post with mountains and trees in the background, and the words 'ANOPHA TRAMWAY' spread across in giant letters.
"From this day onwards, the line shall be called the Anopha Tramway, as a special sign to all that only trams can cross this track," Mr Stark said, to more cheers, bells and horns that echoed across the entire yard.
"That's a lovely photo of you Toby," Thomas called out cheekily. "A bit too much dust though, you might want to work on that." Everyone laughed, including Toby, as there was no way any of them could be annoyed at the moment. The quarry, the tramway and the engines themselves were saved, and Toby, Flora and Mavis exchanged wide, beaming smiles that shone brighter than the gleaming summer's sun.
They were all going to stay together, and that was all that really mattered.
I hope you all enjoyed this railway series book! It wasn't quite as polished as my previous ones I felt, but I hope you all liked the stories despite that. I will do another one in my next holidays most likely, so if you like the sound of one of the ones I have listed in my profile let me know which one you want to see next!