So this is the first episode of my new spin-off series to my Railway Series. I was going to release it after New Years, but I felt like going ahead of schedule. I was going to do a rewrite of Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure, but I didn't have many ideas, so it's on hold for the moment. Sorry guys!
But now, let's sit back, and enjoy the first episode of...
North Western Engines, Long Ago
Episode 1: Too Much Pride for Alexandra
Based on "Respect for Gordon" by James Mason
The first two engines on the North Western Railway were Thomas and Edward. Thomas was a modified Billinton E2 class tank engine with a raised rear running plate and extended side tanks. Edward was a Furness K2 tender engine. Thomas was painted brown, and Edward red.
Thomas originally came from the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway as number 104, originally built in 1914. He had arrived on Sodor as a replacement for a Terrier class tank engine named Preston who serviced the Sodor and Mainland Railway from 1890 to 1915. He was given a rebuild from May to August, and it gave his current appearance.
Edward originally serviced on the Furness Railway from 1896 to 1910, where we serviced the Wellsworth and Suddery Railway. Edward worked on that line, even when it became the Tidmouth, Wellsworth and Suddery Railway, and in August 1915, he officially became number two of the North Western Railway.
Thomas and Edward were joined by another engine, coming from the North Eastern Railway, and a member of the ex-Sodor and Mainland Railway. Her name was Heather, and she was a Class M1 tender engine with the same wheel arrangement as Edward. She had arrived on the Sodor and Mainland in 1901.
The three engines were under watchful eyes of Sir Topham Hatt, the Fat Director, and the controller of the North Western, Mr. David Stafford.
One September morning, the two men came to speak to the engines.
"Good morning, engines," said the Fat Director, "right now, we are facing a locomotive shortage."
"A locomotive shortage?" asked Thomas, "Isn't there me, Edward, and Heather?"
"Don't forget there are the other engines from the former Tidmouth, Wellsworth and Suddery Railway," Edward pointed out.
"Yes," said Mr. Stafford, "but most of them are older engines and can't handle the workload. Mr. Hatt and I have had a discussion and the Midland Railway will be loaning several locomotives until we can purchase more."
"At the moment, the Midland Railway can only spare seven," said the Fat Controller, "it should be enough to help extend from Kellsthrope Road to Wellsworth, and hopefully make a connection to the Culdee Fell Mountain Railway in the near future."
"Please welcome them warmly, and give them most respect," finished Mr. Stafford.
"Understood, sir," said the three engines at once, and the two men walked away. At the moment, they had extended from Ballahoo to Vicarstown, and there was now two routes from Crovan's Gate to Vicarstown; the slow line via Ballahoo, or the fast line through a double-bore tunnel, which had partially collapsed several weeks ago due to poor construction.
The first four engines came a few days later via ship to Kirk Ronan. Thomas and Edward were to meet them there and bring them to Vicarstown. They watched as the engines were unloaded from the ship one by one.
The first engine was a 1116A saddle tank engine with four wheels. The next engine to be unloaded was a 1377 tank engine with six wheels, just like Thomas. The two tank engines introduced themselves as Phillip and Simon, respectively. The third engine had its tender unloaded, then the engine itself.
Thomas and Edward marveled in awe as the engine was unloaded. She had two front wheels and four driving wheels, in fact, she looked older than Edward! Although she looked old, her face was young and beautiful.
"Hello..." Thomas said slowly, "My name... is Thomas... who are you...?"
The engine gave a giggle. "My name is Marianne," she said sweetly.
"What a beautiful name," said Edward, "oh, where are my manners? *ahem* I am Edward. Welcome to our railway, my dear."
"Thank you, you're too sweet," said Marianne, giggling again whilst Edward blushed.
"Why don't you lovetrains cut the sweet talk?!" snapped a voice from above.
Marianne looked up and scoffed. "Honestly, Alexandra! We just met, all right?"
Alexandra had four leading wheels and four driving wheels just like Edward, but she had outside cylinders, a Belpaire firebox, and a different cab and tender. Her build was of a 1000 Class.
When Alexandra was lowered down in front of her own tender, Thomas and Edward were sorry to see she wasn't as kind as Marianne. Alexandra scowled in disgust at the two engines.
"And those are the engines meant to take me to your controller?" she hissed, "Pah! I can take myself there!"
"We can't without coal and water," huffed Simon, "we don't have any at all!"
"It's better if you let them lead us," said Marianne sternly. Alexandra frowned again and gave in.
"If I must," she said, "and do it carefully! I want to be treated like a lady, not a common truck!"
"Her bark is worse than her bite," Thomas muttered to himself.
Marianne, Alexandra, Phillip, and Simon were pulled by Thomas and Edward all the way to Vicarstown. It would have been nice and quiet, if not for Alexandra's complaining. In fact, she complained all the way to Vicarstown!
At last, the six engines arrived at Vicarstown safely. The Fat Director and Mr. Stafford greeted them warmly.
"I expect you had an easy journey," the Fat Controller said.
"I surely didn't!" grumbled Alexandra, but no one heard her. Marianne, Phillip and Simon said they did have an easy journey.
"Good," said Mr. Stafford, "you'll be filled up on coal and water, and then you can start work first thing tomorrow."
"Yes, sir," said Marianne, Simon, and Phillip. After the two men left, Alexandra started up again.
"About time!" she snapped, "I was tired of being dragged around by that silly tank engine and that Edward!"
Thomas was cross and most offended.
"I resent that, you loudmouth cow!" he shouted.
"How DARE you call me a COW!" Alexandra yelled.
"Here we go..." muttered Simon. As Thomas went to couple up to Alexandra, who was at the rear, the two engines kept up at what was a verbal war. If that wasn't enough, Thomas bumped into Alexandra.
"Don't even bump a lady!" snapped Alexandra, "Show respect!"
"How can I show respect if you act like a royal pain?" retorted Thomas.
Before Alexandra could utter so much as one syllable, Edward blew his whistle to stop the argument.
"That is enough!" he shouted, "This childish bickering is spreading a bad atmosphere in the yards! Thomas, take Alexandra to the yards as soon as you can."
Thomas said nothing, but did as he was told, and he and Alexandra rolled away.
"I know Alexandra's words were uncalled for," said Edward, after he had calmed down, "but please forgive Thomas too. He's young yet."
"I understand, Edward," said Phillip, "I'm used to it, actually."
When Heather met up with the Midland engines, she got on with Marianne, Simon and Phillip, but Alexandra, not so much.
For the next few weeks, Alexandra was used primarily as a passenger engine, even during the times of war. Despite this, she proved to be very difficult. She was rude to the engines, and they complained about her attitude. Alexandra expected the engines to treat her "like a lady", and wanted to get her way.
One morning, Simon wanted his turn at the water column, but Alexandra cut in front of him to take it first, taking Simon by surprise.
"Hey!" shouted the red tank engine, "I was here first!"
"Ladies first!" said Alexandra, pretending to ignore Simon's protests. Marianne puffed up alongside and was quite cross.
"You should've waited until Simon had his turn," she said firmly.
"Peh," snorted Alexandra, "he's just a common shunter, nothing more!"
"Simon's important too," said Marianne, "he takes smaller trains and does shunting duties for us tender engines. I swear, Alexandra, your attitude is going to lead you into trouble... mark my words!"
"I know better, Marianne, and I always have!"
"What goes around comes around," Marianne puffed firmly, and she steamed away to collect her next train.
At Vicarstown station, Thomas was arranging Alexandra's coaches for her train to Kirk Ronan.
"Hurry up, you little steampot!" snapped Alexandra, "I can't be running late!"
"It's not time yet," said Thomas firmly, "now be a good engine and wait patiently!"
Alexandra was livid, and she let off so much smoke and steam it filled the station! The passengers were choked up, so to speak, and were very cross!
"You foolish engine!" shouted the stationmaster, "I shall report this to Mr. Stafford!"
"Oh, you're in trouble now," teased Thomas.
"Shut your mouth, or else I will-!"
"You'll what?" said a voice. Alexandra spotted Mr. Stafford standing on the platform. He did not look happy.
"The stationmaster tells me you let off steam all over the station and it fell on the passengers!" he said crossly, "I cannot allow that on the railway! That is unacceptable behavior! Do you understand?!"
"Yes, sir," muttered Alexandra. After Thomas moved into a siding out of the way, Alexandra backed down onto the coaches.
"I'll show them all," she muttered, "they'll know how useful I am!" Then the guard's whistle blew, and Alexandra steamed away out of the station.
As Alexandra neared Crovan's Gate, she passed Heather with a slow goods.
"Blow your whistle and show some respect!" Alexandra called, but Heather did not blow her whistle and ignored the 1000 class tender engine. Alexandra was most annoyed.
"The nerve!" she hissed, "How dare that green engine not blow her whistle at me! How insulting!"
"Take it easy, girl!" called Alexandra's driver, noticing his engine speed up, "We're not running a race!"
But Alexandra ignored her driver and puffed crossly on. Unfortunately, as she passed the station, Alexandra failed to notice a red signal set at "danger".
"Stop!" shouted Skarloey, who was on the narrow gauge platform, "There's a goods train up ahead!"
But Alexandra didn't hear the little engine, whose warning proved to be correct; up ahead was Simon with a slow goods. He was making good time and was unaware of what was behind him...
Simon was shot forward and was derailed. Alexandra smashed into the brakevan and last few trucks. Fortunately, the guard jumped clear in time, but Alexandra's front was mangled in the crash. Passengers were flown out of their seats, and several of them were badly injured, including the two engines' drivers and firemen.
"Who put this goods train in my way?!" shouted Alexandra.
"I had the right of way," shouted Simon, "and you crashed into me! Did you not see a red signal?"
Alexandra just seethed furiously in silence.
Soon, Edward and Marianne were called in to clear away the mess. It was no surprise to them were Alexandra ended up. Simon wasn't damaged upon impact, just shaken up, but his crew was taken away to check for injuries. Edward took away Simon and what was left of the tank engine's goods, and Marianne brought the coaches back to the station. The train had to be cancelled due to the accident, and Simon's goods were badly delayed. Today was a frustrating day for the North Western Railway.
The Fat Director and Mr. Stafford spoke sternly to Alexandra that evening.
"You've been a very badly behaved engine for the last few weeks," said the Fat Director, "you've been disrespectful to the other engines, you blow smoke and steam at a station, and you ignore a red signal and crash into a goods train! Are you happy with yourself?!"
"N-n-no, sir, I'm sorry, sir," Alexandra said meekly, "I promise it's never going to happen again!"
"Indeed it will not!" said Mr. Stafford, "The damage you caused has cost us hundreds of pounds! Whether or not you will stay to expand the railway is uncertain at the moment. You shall have your front repaired, and you will stay in a siding until you are needed!"
"Another engine will have to be borrowed for the time being," said the Fat Director, "I shall contact the railways and see if they can spare an engine."
For the first time since her arrival, Alexandra didn't feel above her station, she felt like and was a very foolish engine.
It took a long time to repair Alexandra, and shortly after the accident, the other three Midland engines arrived. Even with three extra engines, they needed an engine to run primarily passenger runs. But that's another story.
Alexandra's crash is loosely based on the Bo'ness Junction rail crash on January 27, 1874, at Falkirk, Scotland. The station staff apparently mistook the late-running Glasgow train for the second Perth express, and the signals were believed to be incorrectly set. It was too late to prevent the collision and sixteen people died, another twenty-eight injured.
This is only the beginning! For the story list on the Preface page, it's not finalized. I want to give the characters at least one story each, plus at least two stories per year, and that is my goal. I might do a few rewrites featuring the Skarloey engines, Skarloey Rheneas, Proteus, and Bertram. There might not be fifteen stories. In fact, I could probably do twenty episodes like in seasons 12-16. The series will end in late-1921, as it is a build up to the first two books in the Railway Series.
On a slightly unrelated note, I'm thinking of doing a set of stories about characters before their arrival on Sodor. Examples: 199 and Bear, Oliver, Percy, James, Annie and Clarabel, Donald and Douglas, Henry, Daisy, Mike, Rex and Bert, etc.