|For other uses, see Sir Topham Hatt (disambiguation).|
- “You have caused confusion and delay!”
- ―Sir Topham Hatt
The Fat Controllers
So far, there have been three controllers in charge of the North Western Railway.
Sir Topham Hatt I (1880-1956)
Topham Hatt was apprenticed at the Great Western Railway's Swindon Works in 1894 at the age of fourteen. During his time there, he seems to have struck up a friendship with William A. Stanier, a fellow apprentice. The story current at Crovan's Gate Works is that on at least one occasion, perhaps more, the future Sir Topham was able to help the future, Sir William, to escape the consequences of what might have been a serious scrape. Due to his training at Swindon, he always admired things Great Western.
He came to Sodor in 1901 and joined A. W. Dry & Co., a firm of drainage engineers, at Tidmouth. On their recommendation, he became an engineer to the Tidmouth, Knapford and Elsbridge Light Railway in 1910, the Tidmouth, Wellsworth & Suddery in 1912 and the North Western Railway upon its formation in 1914. On the North Western Railway, he rose to be General Manager in 1923, Managing Director in 1936 and upon Nationalisation in 1948, he was created a baronet on his appointment as Chairman of the Regional Executive.
For A.W. Dry & Co., he built a series of four vertical boiler engines known as Coffee Pots between 1905 and 1908, which were used by the TK&ER. After an Autumn gale in 1908, he directed unemployed miners in cutting a tunnel through the ridge south of Tidmouth. In 1915, for the NWR, he designed a double-tracked Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge of 120 ft span to cross the Walney Channel. Sometime after this, he was appointed a director of the Company.
When the Railway was suffering from a locomotive crisis in the early 1920s, he was responsible for acquiring new engines. During this time, he made one of his rare bad bargains when he purchased Henry instead of the Robinson Atlantic he wanted. He remembered the mistake with sorrow for the rest of his days and was so angry at having been “done” that he would never admit who it was who had swindled him. No-one was better pleased than Topham Hatt when the Killdane accident occurred in 1935. Using his connections with William Stanier, now CME of the LMS, he was able to have Henry completely rebuilt at Crewe Works.
In 1953, when The Queen visited Sodor in Coronation year he had the honour of welcoming her to Tidmouth, having been previously presented to Her Majesty by Viscount Harwick, the Governor, who was also his son-in-law.
He retired in 1954 in favour of his son Charles, whom the Board had no hesitation in electing as his successor. It is no exaggeration to say that the present prosperity of the Railway is almost entirely due to his initiative and resource.
He married Jane, sister of Sir Handel Brown in 1910 and they had two children, Barbara Jane (born 1911), who married Henry Regaby in 1938 and Charles Topham. He died at Wellsworth in 1956 at the age of 76.
In The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, he was nicknamed "The Fat Director" before his nickname changed to "The Fat Controller" in James the Red Engine.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt II (1914-1997)
Sir Charles Topham Hatt was the second Fat Controller from 1954 to 1984, when he retired in favour of his own son.
Charles Topham Hatt was educated at Abbey School, Cronk and from there went to Crewe Works as an engineering pupil under Mr. William Stanier in 1932. He was present during Henry's rebuilding in 1935. In 1937, he was recommended for railway service overseas by Mr. Stanier, but he returned in 1939 to enlist in the Royal Engineers, serving with them throughout the Second World War. He was demobilised in 1945 with the rank of Colonel.
He spent a further period overseas, before returning to Sodor in 1952 to become Chief Mechanical Engineer at Crovan's Gate Works and general assistant to his ageing father. Following his father's retirement in 1954, the Board had no hesitation in electing him as Controller.
During his period of office, he began improvements to the harbour at Knapford, planned by his father and reopened the Arlesburgh branch in 1965/6, being responsible for the construction of the Arlesdale Railway and for establishing the ballast consortium which uses it.
His cousin, Sir Handel Lloyd Brown II, was born in 1924. He married Amanda Croarie in 1940 and they had two children, Stephen Topham, born in 1941 and Bridget, born in 1943. Charles inherited his father's baronetcy in 1956.
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt III (1941-)
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt (who first appeared in Toby the Tram Engine while on a family holiday in East Anglia with his sister and grandparents) became the third Fat Controller in 1984, succeeding to his father's baronetcy in 1997. In 1970, he married Helen Margaret, a distant cousin and granddaughter of the Reverend Nicholas Dreswick, the much-respected historian of Sodor. They had three children: Richard Topham (1972-), Charles Nicholas (1974-) and Emily Helen (1977-).
With great skill, he masterminded the arrangements for the royal visit in 1995, when he welcomed the Prince of Wales on his first visit to Sodor.
Richard Topham is no doubt destined to be Sir Topham Hatt IV, but when is yet to be known. In Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, it was last heard that his father was 64 in 2005 and had not given any hint of a retirement. As of 2020, it is unknown if he is still acting as the controller.
Sir Topham Hatt in Thomas & Friends
In his youth, he was a Boy Scout. Prior to him becoming Controller of the North Western Railway, Sir Topham Hatt owned a Sentinel steam lorry named Elizabeth, who notes that he was not the best driver. When he was a young man, Edward always took him aboard an old coach on his birthday. He also built the Coffee Pots some time prior to Thomas arriving on Sodor. Sir Topham later received his knighthood for his services to the railway industry. He was also the controller of the Skarloey Railway, until Mr. Percival was hired to help him manage the ever-increasing size of his railway industry. Prior to Blue Mountain Mystery, he bought a track inspection car named Winston, who is often used as a private transportation vehicle on the railway.
Sir Topham Hatt married Lady Hatt and is the grandfather of Stephen and Bridget Hatt. He has a twin brother, Sir Lowham Hatt and his mother is Dowager Hatt. According to the Official Website, "we have yet to meet his children".
Sir Topham Hatt is firm but funny and fair. He can be strict, but with a good reason and he deeply cares about the engines and also shows a fatherly side to them. He is quite a strong character and will remind the engines that he is in charge if they start to rebel against his authority. He does not stand bullying and even though he is usually serious, he does enjoy a good jolly laugh.
Despite his kindness and fairness, however, there are times where Sir Topham Hatt berates the engines for situations beyond their control. Like any son, he does hold a slight bit of respect for his mother, Dowager Hatt. But like all parental relationships, there are some things he finds more personal than others.
At times, Sir Topham Hatt can be the comic relief character, having high levels of irony and occasional slapstick. He can also be overhasty and forgetful at times and misplace priorities. He also has a slight sweet tooth, having a particular taste for creme buns, ice cream and milkshakes.
Sir Topham Hatt is a short, chubby gentleman. He usually wears morning dress, consisting of grey trousers, a white shirt, a black tie, a cream, yellow, blue, purple or grey waistcoat, a black tailcoat and a black top hat. He is most often depicted as having thinning grey, black or brown hair and brown eyes, while in the television series, he is depicted as completely bald.
- Keith Wickham (UK; Hero of the Rails onwards - US; The Adventure Begins onwards)
- Kerry Shale (US; Hero of the Rails - eighteenth series)
- Blas García (Latin America; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Kōhei Miyauchi (Japan; first - fourth series)
- Takeshi Aono (Japan; fifth - eighth series)
- Rokurō Naya (Japan; Calling All Engines! - Samson at Your Service, excluding Tale of the Brave)
- Kan Tanaka (Japan; Tale of the Brave and Samson Sent for Scrap onwards)
- Øyvind Borgemoen Lyse (Norway; Hero of the Rails - Tale of the Brave)
- Fredrik Steen (Norway; eighteenth series onwards)
- Bernard Demory (France and French speaking Canada; sixth series onwards; excluding eighth-twelfth series)
- Michel Lasorne (France and French speaking Canada; eighth - twelfth series)
- Enzo Avolio (Italy)
- Eberhard Haar (Germany; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Jürgen Holdorf (Germany; Singing voice; Big World! Big Adventures!)
- Thomas Fritsch (Germany; Audio Books: 1 - 5 only)
- Jörg Gillner - (Germany; Audio Books: 6 - 16 only)
- Aku Laitinen (Finland)
- Mikołaj Klimek (Poland)
- Nir Ron (Israel)
- Maarten Wansink (The Netherlands)
- Troells Toya (Denmark)
- Luiz Carlos de Morais (Brazil; twelfth series onwards)
- Roberto Cuadrado (Spain; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Farago Andras (Hungary)
- Rin Tripa (Romania)
- Alexander Kotov (Russia)
- Um Sang-hyun (South Korea)
- Loukas Frangoulis (Greece)
- According to Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, the Fat Controller is based on no one in particular, though Christopher Awdry suggests his doctor at the time the character was created may have been an "unconscious contribution".
- Due to different societal norms, the Fat Controller is always referred to by his real name, "Sir Topham Hatt" in the US.
- Even so, in certain US episodes following the CGI series, the engines' mouths are not reanimated properly, as their mouths say "The Fat Controller" when they verbally say "Sir Topham Hatt".
- Also, several times in the UK script, Sir Topham Hatt is addressed by his nickname in public, when it would be inappropriate. This was fixed in Blue Mountain Mystery, when Victor called the Fat Controller by his real name "Sir Topham Hatt". In The Great Race, Gordon said "Sir Topham Hatt".
- The Fat Controller's television series model from Lady Hatt's Birthday Party appeared in the 2009 "Children in Need" charity single and was animated using stop-motion.
- In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Diesel 10 calls him "Fat Hatt", a combination of his nickname and his real name.
- According to Elizabeth, Sir Topham Hatt was a bad driver in his younger days. When he is seen driving Winston, it seems his skills have not improved.
- The Fat Controller's office set was part of an exhibit at the Hangaram Art Museum in Korea in 2010.
- Large scale and miniature models of Sir Topham Hatt are currently in the safe hands of the Top Props preservation group, after they were sold by The Prop Gallery. A large scale walking model of Sir Topham Hatt was also sold by The Prop Gallery.
- Throughout the television series, Sir Topham Hatt is accompanied by two men in standard blue railway uniforms. They are presumed to be his assistants. In the sixteenth series episode, Percy and the Calliope, the narrator refers to them as "helpers".
- In the book, Thomas-saurus Rex, it states that Sir Topham Hatt used to be called "Little Topham Hatt" in his youth. His grandfather also appears in the book.
- Sir Topham Hatt's television series model had eyebrows inconsistently. Between the sixth and eleventh series, the model mainly did not have them at all. It would not be until the CGI series that he would permanently have eyebrows.
- The alternative rock band Catherine Wheel released a song named after the Fat Controller called "Here Comes The Fat Controller" on their 1997 album, Adam and Eve.
- From the thirteenth series to the fifteenth series, Sir Topham Hatt was referred to as "Bertram" (not to be confused with the engine).
- From Hero of the Rails to the eighteenth series, Sir Topham Hatt had an American accent in the US dub.
- In most episodes and specials, Sir Topham Hatt is seen writing with his right hand. But in the nineteenth series episode, No Help At All, he is seen writing left-handed. This could likely be a mistake, but may also mean he is ambidextrous (being able to write with both hands).
- A photo of the Fat Controller from the first series episode, Trouble in the Shed was shown on a web-exclusive video of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
- Sir Topham Hatt is the only named human character to appear and speak in every series of the television series.
- Between the thirteenth and fifteenth series, Hero of the Rails to Tale of the Brave, Sir Topham Hatt was the only character from the model series to still be voiced by the narrator in the CGI Series in the Finnish dub.
- His name is a pun on top hat, the constant loss of which is a running gag throughout the series.
- “I never like these big engines. Always going wrong. Send for another engine at once!”
- ―Sir Topham Hatt, The Three Railway Engines
- “This gentleman is a gentleman who knows how to speak to engines.”
- ―Toby about Sir Topham Hatt, Toby the Tram Engine
- The Fat Controller spoke severely to Daisy too.
- "My engines do not tell lies! They work hard with no shirking. I send lazy engines away!"
- "However, Toby says you worked hard yesterday, after Percy's accident. So you shall have another chance!"
- "Thank you, sir! I will work hard, sir. Toby says he'll help me".
- "Excellent! What Toby doesn't know about branch line problems, such as er..bulls, isn't worth knowing. Our Toby is an experienced engine!”
- ―Sir Topham Hatt and Daisy, "Percy's Predicament", "Branch Line Engines".
- “Oh, it's you! Have you learned to drive properly yet?”
- ―Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Vintage Lorry, sixth series
- “Hello, I'm The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt. I'm the director of the railway. Nothing is more important to me and then my engines are being really useful and that means always being on time.”
- ―Website audio
- ERTL (with a conductor, Lady Hatt or as a wind-up; discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (several versions; discontinued)
- Take Along (in his car; discontinued)
- TrackMaster (discontinued)
- Hornby (cancelled)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (in his yellow or blue car; discontinued)
- Tomica (with Thomas)
- My First Thomas (in his yellow car or normal; discontinued)
- Brio (discontinued)
- Capsule Plarail
- Pocket Fantasy (discontinued)
- Take-n-Play (in his car or placed inside Winston; discontinued)
- Adventures (in his car or placed inside Winston; discontinued)
- Trading Card
- Discover Junction
- My Thomas Story Library (discontinued)
- Departing Now (discontinued)
- Mega Bloks (discontinued)
- De Agostini (discontinued)
- Royal Hampshire (discontinued)
- Lionel Trains
- LEGO (discontinued)
- Minis (only in the Target Blast Stunt set and Fizz 'n Go Mega Pack)