Mid Sodor Railway
The Mid Sodor Railway is a fictional narrow gauge railway on the Island of Sodor in The Railway Series of children's books by the Rev.W.Awdry and Christopher Awdry. The railway was closed in 1947, but three of its engines survive on the Skarloey Railway. Part of its route is now occupied by the Arlesdale Railway.
The railway ran from the coast at Arlesburgh along the Arlesdale valley then through the Sudrian mountains to King 'Orry's Bridge near the town of Peel Godred. At Arlesburgh it met up with a branch of the standard gauge North Western Railway
The main sheds and works for the railway were at Arlesdale station.
The railway was at first a goods-only line for mineral traffic from the lead mines in the valley but with the arrival of tourists to Sodor it started carrying passengers, with connections at Arlesburgh for the ferries to the Isle of Man. The mountain section to Peel Godred was built to give the people of Peel a rail connection after plans for the Sodor & Mainland Railway to extend here were cancelled. Although the MSR's station was on the edge of the town it had once planned to build one in the town centre.
The MSR was responsible for the creation of the Culdee Fell Railway although there was no connecting station for the two lines.
The railway has so far only appeared in the book Duke the Lost Engine, but has been mentioned in others.
Over its near-sixty-year existence, the MSR utilised a number of engines, most of which remain unrecorded. Four engines are mentioned in the books, and these are described below.
In the book, Duke is described as being built in 1879 for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway. He was named after the Duke of Sodor. He worked alongside Sir Handel and Peter Sam (then known as Falcon and Stuart respectively) until 1947, at which time the line closed and Duke was sheeted and sheltered in Arlesdale Sheds. He was later discovered by Mr. Fergus Duncan in 1969 and taken by road and rail to Crovan's Gate, where he was restored and returned to service in 1984.
In the book, Stanley came from the United States. He had a tendency to ride roughly on the rails. He is depicted as arrogant and careless, believing that it did not matter if he came off the track occasionally. However, this attitude resulted in his being converted into a pumping engine. He last worked at the Cas-ny-Hawin mine until he broke down in December 1946 and the mine became flooded. With no reason to stay open, the Mid Sodor Railway closed down the next month and Stanley was scrapped.
He appeared in one illustration of "Duke the Lost Engine", as a pumping engine at the back of the engine shed. The engine is only known as "No. 2" in that book; his name was not revealed until the publication of "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways".
Stanley is based on a Baldwin Class 10-12-D 4-6-0 World War I military engine sold after the war to the Welsh Highland Railway where it ran as No. 590. The engine was reputed to ride roughly and was broken up for scrap in 1946.
Falcon was Sir Handel's name when he worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. After its closure in 1947, he and Stuart were purchased by the aluminium works at Peel Godred for an expansion project. After its completion in 1952, the two were purchased by the Skarloey Railway for fifty pounds altogether and renamed.
Stuart was Peter Sam's name when he worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. After its closure in 1947, he and Falcon were purchased by the aluminium works at Peel Godred for an expansion project. After its completion in 1952, the two were purchased by the Skarloey Railway for fifty pounds altogether and renamed.
Stuart was based on Corris Railway No. 4, which now works on the Talyllyn Railway as "Edward Thomas".
Locomotives only in the TV Series
Smudger was a reckless tank engine who worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. He arrived on The Mid Sodor Railway in circa 1897. He liked to show off, riding roughly and often derailing. When Duke told him to be careful, he just laughed and scoffed. This caused the Manager to turn Smudger into a generator around 1902 behind the engine shed. No information about Smudger is given after the Mid Sodor Railway closed down in 1947, so it is assumed he has either remained there or he has been scrapped.
In addition to Smudger, Skarloey, Rheneas, and Duncan were also seen working on the Mid Sodor Railway in the series, even though they were supposed to be working on the Skarloey Railway.
The Mid Sodor Railway can claim many sources of inspiration. Most obviously, it takes inspiration from the Corris Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway. Some of the architecture, locomotives and rolling stock are clearly based on the former line. This is most notable in the case of Falcon and Stuart, which are based on the Corris Railway's number 3 and 4 respectively.
The Ffestiniog Railway's influence is most obvious in the character of Duke, an engine based on the Ffestiniog locomotive Prince; some of the rolling stock is also Ffestiniog-inspired. Like the Ffestiniog, the MSR is designed as a narrow gauge main line. In the history of the MSR, Awdry mentions Ffestiniog engineer James Spooner's involvement.
Readers have also identified elements of the Welsh Highland Railway (the character Stanley), the Snailbeach District Railways (the engine shed) and Owd Ratty (the original 3 ft (914 mm) gauge Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway), among others, used by Gunvor & Peter Edwards the artists who illustrated Duke the Lost Engine.
In model form
Rev. W. Awdry owned two model railways, one after the other. Both were based on the ideas of the MSR and "V1" as mentioned in some modelling magazines had the following roster: Albert (No. 5), Jim (No. 6), Tim (No. 7), Jerry, John, Jennings, as well as the mine engines Atlas and Alfred.
'V2' is the layout that survived to be displayed at the Cadeby Rectory - here, there was only one unnamed 'Mine Engine', along with 'Duke', 'Albert' 'Stuart' 'Falcon' 'Jim' 'Tim' and 'Jerry'.
The Mid-Sodor Railway ran from Arlesburgh, and ending at King Orry's Bridge (near Peel Godred). Stopping at Arlesburgh Bridge Street, Ffarquhar Road, Marthwaite, Arlesdale Green, Arlesdale, Cas-ny-Harwin, Ulfstead Road, and Ballamoddey en route.