Thursday, September 29, 2011

J-70 Tram Engines

 (Toby, battler for justice)

Interlude time.

Growing up, it was always clear that Toby is an unusual christian name; indeed the market demonstrated this by the fact that there was never any mugs or other types of tat with Toby on them - it was all David, John, Bill, Oliver, etc etc. Hence, discovering Toby: The Tram Engine at an early age was simply wonderful - something with my name on it, and a quirky steam engine to boot - very important a six.

But in common with most of the rest of the the Reverend Awdry's creations in the Railway Series, (later known as "Thomas and Friends"), Toby in fact was based on a real series of strange steam tram engines produced by the Great Eastern Railway between 1903 and 1921 for service on the equally idiosyncratic Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, in rural Cambridgeshire, and were a more powerful version of an earlier Victorian design. 

(68222 in the early 1950s)

Unkindly described by my sister as a "garden shed on wheels", the "Tobys" were replaced by diesel shunters in the early 1950s, and were all scrapped. (Sniff!) Nonetheless, this strange design has achieved a degree of immortality in the unlikely venue of a children's storybook character.

Minus the side plates, you can see how short the wheelbase was.

And under the "garden shed", it was just a conventional (if very small) steam engine.

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