The Railway Series
The oldest part of the village stands astride the Arlesburgh/Ulfstead road. In the troubled times of the Regency (1263-1404) a fort stood here as an outpost for Ulfstead Castle. Following the Island's acceptance of Henry IV as Overlord in 1404, the fort fell into disuse, and little remains except the hillock on which it once stood. It is still called "The Fort". Some of the older houses in the village are built from its masonry.
St Finan's church, which mainly dates from the thirteenth century, has a circular tower of a much earlier date and was massively built. It cannot be entered except by a ladder from inside the church, and seems to have been intended as a peel or tower of refuge.
With its importance as an outpost gone, Ffarquhar led a peacefully rural existence for the next few centuries. A scattered community of hill farmers grew barley and oats, but the emphasis was, and still is largely on cattle and sheep. The Sodor Black Poll is a hardy dual purpose breed producing good mutton and also quality fleeces which, formerly spun and woven at home, are now worked up into fine cloth at the Ulfstead Woollen Mills. In former days farmers only kept enough cows to supply their own and local needs, but with the coming of the railway, larger herds have become profitable, the milk being despatched twice daily to St. Pedroc's Dairy at Elsbridge.
Mechanisation has been slow to take hold, but it is nevertheless here to stay. A visitor to Thomas Cousins' workshop will see implements of incredible antiquity in for repair standing, as it were, side by side with the latest from Massey-Ferguson or Fordson. Thomas Cousins began as the village Blacksmith; now under his son and grandson the firm are agricultural engineers to a wide district. It is their boast that they can supply and repair any implement needed on any farm. They will even undertake to devise "one off" implements needed for awkward or peculiar situations.
It is impossible to be in Ffarquhar or anywhere else in West Sodor without being reminded of "Felgood's Famous Ffarquhar Ales". It was in the 1850's that Josiah Felgood set up his first brewery, much of which still oremains. It is now in the hands of his great grandson Jermyn. Visitors are welcomed, and though Felgood's have breweries elsewhere, any Real Ale expert can always tell a Ffarquhar Brew from that of anywhere else. The Hackenbeck water, they say, makes all the difference. The Ales can be tried at the brewery or The Three Beetles at Hackenbeck, or better still at The Toby in Ffarquhar itself. The Toby was originally "The Toby Jug", but the landlord was so delighted when Toby came and put an officious police constable in his place, that he had Toby's picture painted on his signboard, instead of the jug. This young policeman perhaps hoped to gain promotion and a reputation for zeal by enforcing laws which were out of date and which had been quietly forgotten. He drove Ffarquhar innkeepers nearly crazy with obscure points in the Licensing Laws, and scored a success against Thomas, but when one Sunday morning he prowled outside the Church taking the numbers of the cars he saw there, he found too late that he had "booked" not only the Vicar, but John Croarie, the Chairman of the local Bench of Magistrates, as well as his own Sergeant. He was speedily transferred elsewhere amid general rejoicing.
It was John Croarie's father, Jabez, principal landowner in Ffarquhar who, feeling the pinch after the First World War, floated the Ffarquhar Quarry Company to mine the stone under his land on Anopha Fell and in furtherance of this, persuaded the North Western Railway to extend from Elsbridge to Ffarquhar. From 1921 to 1981, the village has increased in population from 350 to 2405. The Quarry Co. employs some 400 people wither underground or at the cutting and curing sheds.
The station has one passenger platform with a run-round loop. A milk dock, cattle dock, coal staithes, and an oil depot are provided, together with two good sheds (one for local traffic, and one for goods in transit via Sodor Roadways). The station forecourt is a regular calling place for Sodor Roadways buses whose timetable and that of the Branch are coordinated to make connections with all trains possible.
Ten trains are provided each way daily. This is adequate for normal needs, but the timetable allows "paths" for extra trains if required at busy times.
In earlier books, such as Tank Engine Thomas Again and Toby the Tram Engine, Ffarquhar looked considerably different to the later version familiar to readers. Wilbert Awdry explained this away in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways in the form of a letter by Mr. Kevin Volley, former stationmaster at Ffarquhar, as being the result of errors by the artist. The artist was right about the brick built engine shed, and the way in which the quarry line curve away to the north as shown in order to give a longer run thus easing the gradient up to the workings. Two of Mr Hatt's vertical boiler engines worked the quarry line. They were both remarkable machines, and they were never photographed before they were scrapped. They were deficient in brake power, and heavy loads sometimes got out of hand. That was why Thomas was sent up on occasion, and it was on one of those trips that a young policeman caught him.
According to Mr. Kevin Volley, the stonecutting and curing sheds used to be up at Anopha, but it was soon found more convenient have them at the station. They needed some cottages near the station too, so the quarry extension was re-aligned to run as it does today: between the cottages and the engine shed, crossing Ulfstead Road into The Lane.
The brick built carriage shed (seen in one of the illustrations of Tank Engine Thomas Again) was pulled down when the track alterations were made after Toby had arrived, for they then needed a two road shed for Henrietta, Annie and Clarabel. Daisy now shares the coach shed with Annie and Clarabel. Henrietta and Elsie are generally shedded at Knapford with Toby.
The passenger station, according to Mr Kevin Volley, the pictures of Tank Engine Thomas Again are "wildly inaccurate". There has never been a two platform station at Ffarquhar, and the platform and station buildings were never on the south side as shown in these pictures. The platform and buildings shown in later books, such as Branch Line Engines, are fair but incomplete representations of the station.
- Ffarquhar is Thomas' favourite station. This was revealed in the fifth series episode, Baa!
- The name "Ffarquhar" is a made-up word derived from "Far-away quarry" by the Rev. W. Awdry and his brother George. They originally devised the word in 1928 for the terminus of a model railway they never completed.
- In the television series, the station building has the same structure as Wellsworth.
- The original model of Ffarquhar station is owned by Twitter user TomsProps. The sign was stolen from him by Sam Wilkinson in 2017, but it was eventually returned.
- ERTL Gold Rail (discontinued)
- Motor Road and Rail
- Capsule Plarail
- Mini Mini Plarail (discontinued)
- Tomix (discontinued)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (discontinued)
- Nakayoshi (discontinued)
- Mega Bloks (discontinued)
- ↑ RWS "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways" p. 32-36
- ↑ RWS "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways" p. 36-38
- ↑ RWS "The Thomas the Tank Engine Man" p. 154