Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
For other uses, see Sir Topham Hatt (disambiguation).

“You are a Really Useful Engine.”
―Sir Topham Hatt
“You have caused Confusion and Delay.”
―Sir Topham Hatt

Sir Topham Hatt, or simply "The Fat Controller" in the UK, previously known as "The Fat Director", is the controller of the North Western Railway.

The Fat Controllers

Only three controllers had been seen in charge of the North Western Railway in the Railway Series.

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 and Company, 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 and 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 and Company, 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 was tricked into purchasing Henry, who suffered from numerous flaws, 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, a daughter named Barbara Jane (born 1911) who married Henry Regaby in 1938 and later a son named Charles Topham (born 1914) who would later become the second Fat Controller.

Sir Topham Hatt I passed away 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.[2]


Sir Topham Hatt in Thomas & Friends


In Thomas & Friends, Sir Topham Hatt has always been the same one man. He can be described as a combination of the three controllers from the Railway Series. His full name was revealed as Sir Bertram Topham Hatt in the CGI Series episode, Splish Splash Splosh.

In his youth, he was a Boy Scout and his grandfather would him as Little Topham Hatt. According to 1990's Official Website, and the Question Time with Sir Topham Hatt audio cassette, Sir Topham Hatt left school at 14 years old, and joined Swindon Engineering Works as an apprentice (similar to Sir Topham Hatt I in the Railway Series). 2 years later, after learning all there is to know about steam engines, he came back to the Island of Sodor, and worked as a railway engineer for one of the railway companies at the time. In time, his good work was noticed, and he eventually rose quickly in the company, being a director at an early age of a newly formed company called the "North Western Railway". His imposing appearance, no less than his firm but kindly handling of both engines and staff, earned him the affectionate nickname of "The Fat Director". Then, after nationalisation when he was awarded a knighthood for his services to the railway industry, he became Sir Topham Hatt - The Fat Controller.

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 and his family

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". Furthermore the 2015 Trading Cards states Sir Topham Hatt "is not the first to run the the railway. He follows his father and grandfather".

As well as owning the railway, he owns a cat and a blue car and lives in a mansion somewhere on the outskirts of Wellsworth.


Sir Topham Hatt is strict 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, although it is usually because he still feels like their carelessness or ignorance played a hand in it. 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.

That being said, he also shows a distinctly more fatherly side to his engines. When one of them goes missing, he is staunchly determined to find them, even if it means travelling entire countries to do so. He is also known to be very proud of his signature top hat, and often distresses about it should the hat come to harm. He does care about his engines much more though, as he threw it aside upon finding Thomas on Misty Island.


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 thinned grey, black or brown hair and brown eyes, while in the television series, he is depicted as completely bald.


The Railway Series

He appeared in the following books as Sir Topham Hatt I:

He appeared in the following books as Sir Charles Topham Hatt:

He appeared in the following books as Sir Stephen Topham Hatt:

Companion Volumes

Thomas & Friends


Music Videos

Learning Segments


Magazine Stories

Sir Topham Hatt also appeared in the magazine stories, Thomas and the Baby, A Colourful Christmas, A Friend's Party, A Hole in One, A Job for James, A Perfect Garden, A Puzzle for Percy, A Special Story about Guards and Porters, An Old Friend, Arthur and Emily, Back-to-Front, Bertie's Bad Day, Big Catch, Bill and BoCo, Blowing About!, Building Blues!, Bulgy's Dream, Bulstrode the Engine, Bumpers and Buffers, Catch!, Caught Out, Chiff Chaff, Christmas Puddings, Clever Carriages, Clever Climbers!, Clowning Around, Daisy's Day, Diesel's Drums, Diesel's Nasty Turn, Diesel Causes Delay, Diesel Display, Doctors and Nurses, Dressing Up, Edward's Scarecrow, Fair Scare!, Fast Food!, Feeding Time, Fish and Chips, Fish and Fog!, Flying James, Frying or Flying, Fun and Games!, Funnels and Tunnels, Gone Fishing, Gordon and Edward, Happy Holiday!, Harold and the Broken Tree, Hello, Skarloey!, Henry's Secret, Henry's Soaking!, Hooked Hat, I Spy with my Little Eye, James and Edward, James and the Cheese, Jim's Jungle Ride!, Just Right, Lamp Light!, Lights On, Looking Splendid, Lost Luggage!, Misbehaving, Mountains and Mess!, New Paint, On Your Guard!, Party Time!, Percy gets Wet!, Percy's House, Percy and the Trucks, Pirate Passengers, Pot Luck!, Proud Percy!, Puzzles, Railway Open Day, Really Useful Edward, Retirement Time, Rhyming Engines, Road Ride, Road Train, Rushing Around, Rusty's Plan, Santa Special, Scaredy Puffer!, Sea-Bound Salty, Sea Sick, Seeing Steam, Ship Ahoy!, Slick Trick!, Snap Happy, Snow Engine, So Much to See, Sodor's Strong Man, Sodor's Strongest Engine, Sodor Goes Pop!, Sodor Rock, Sounds Useful, Special Treats, Spotty Spencer, Spooky Station, Station Mystery, Steaming Along!, Stick with Steam, Stolen Apples, Stormy Weather, Sunny Smile, Super Splash, Take Off with Terence, That Caps it All, The Balloon Race, The Best Band, The Best Bridge, The Best Engine, The Christmas Sacks, The Cliff Railway, The Craft Show!, The Flower Dome, The Flying Broomstick, The Grand Controller, The Great Statue Robbery, The Hallowe'en Special, The Kettle Train, The Mystery Tour, The Open Top Bus, The Poorly Engine!, The Runaway Percy, The Smugglers, The Very Important Job and Think Pink.

Annual Stories


Audio Stories


  • According to the Sir John Gielgud's audio recordings of The Railway Series, Sir Topham Hatt (I)'s first name was Derek.
  • 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.
    • Although, 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". In a few occasions, this is reversed.
    • Also, several times in the UK script, Sir Topham Hatt is addressed by his nickname in public, when it would be inappropriate, possibly due to broadcasting concerns. This was fixed in Blue Mountain Mystery, when Victor called the Fat Controller by his real name "Sir Topham Hatt".
  • The Fat Controller's television series model from The Grand Opening 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 surname.
  • 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 South 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 and is now owned by Twitter user ThomasTankMerch.
  • 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, excluding the seventh series episode, The Grand Opening. 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 to 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.
  • The Marvel Comics incarnation of Sir Topham Hatt, has a sister living in the town of Weymouth, Dorset, England. He sometimes visits her whilst on holiday.
  • Although unconfirmed, his sweet tooth might be the showrunners poking fun at his weight.


“I never like these big engines. Always going wrong. Send for another engine at once!”
―Sir Topham Hatt, The Three Railway Engines
“We'll see about that, engines on My Railway do as they are told”.
―Sir Topham Hatt, Troublesome 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
“You are lucky Gordon, to have a controller who knows how to run railways.”
Flying Scotsman, Enterprising Engines
“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
“Oh, bother that telephone!”



* RWS only | ** T&F only | --- Dropped

* RWS only | ** T&F only

* RWS only | ** T&F only