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So far, there have been two owners of the Skarloey Railway in The Railway Series.

Sir Handel Brown I

Sir Handel Brown I (1875-November 1950) was the former owner of the Skarloey Railway. He often had other business to attend to, and was never seen in the books.

He served as Liberal MP for the Sodor East constituency from 1910 to 1931 and again as a National Liberal from 1931 to 1945. He was created a Baronet in the 1937 New Year Honours for "Outstanding Public Service". He was a life-long Methodist.

He inherited his property from his father in 1901 and became the largest landholder in the Hawin Dooiney valley. He bought the failing Crovan's Gate Mining Company in 1909, which also gave him ownership of the Skarloey Railway. He immediately closed the copper mine, but the slate mine remained profitable until 1924. He promised to keep the quarry, and by extension the railway, going until his death, for the sake of his tenants, no matter the financial cost to himself.

There was little money for maintenance and repairs, and could not have been without the devoted help of Robert Sam, his manager, and David Hugh, his foreman. Sir Handel died quietly at his home in Cros-ny-Cuirn in November 1950.

He was married to Dorothy Lloyd in 1920, who survived him by some years, and had a daughter Jane in 1921 and a son named Sir Handel Lloyd Brown II in 1924, who took over the ownership of the Skarloey Railway after his death. His sister, Jane, married Sir Topham Hatt, the Fat Controller.

The Skarloey Railway's third engine was renamed Sir Handel in his honour.



  • Sir Handel Brown I is based on Sir Haydn Jones, owner of the Talyllyn Railway between 1911 and his death in 1950 and namesake of Sir Haydn.[2]
  • The Thomas the Tank Engine Man revealed that the life of Sir Handel Brown underwent significant revisions between the character's creation in 1953 and the publication of The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways in 1987.[3]
    • He was named Sir Handel Smith.
    • He was born in 1878 and passed away in January 1953.
    • He inherited the railway from his father in 1906, instead of buying it.
    • His political career only lasted between 1906 and 1923, and he unsuccessfully tried to get elected in 1895 and 1900.
    • Was said to have 5 daughters, Agnes, Ruth, Lucy, Hilda and Beatrice. Their names would be used for the Skarloey Railway Coaches, with the exception of Jemima who took the place of Hilda.

Sir Handel Brown II

Sir Handel Lloyd Brown II (1924-) is the current owner of the Skarloey Railway. He succeeded his father, who was the previous owner in 1950, though he had in fact been administering the holdings for some 15 years prior. Sir Handel Brown II was born in 1924, and he is the cousin of Sir Charles Topham Hatt II. His home is at The Rowans, near Cros-ny-Cuirn, which was built by his father.

After the Second World War, the railway was in a poor state, and the old mines had become ammunition dumps. Inheriting a estate crippled by death duties, the new owner thought he would have to sell the railway, unable to afford his father's philanthropic view of the dubious bundle of assets he now held. At this point, the railway was taken over by Mr. Peter Sam, who became the Thin Controller. With the help of Mr. Ivo Hugh, his foreman, and a number of volunteers, they managed to keep the railway going.

In 1952 he managed to purchase two former Mid Sodor Railway locomotives from the Sodor Aluminium Company for the sum of fifty pounds, and rename one of them in honour of his father and him.

In 1969, he was told by the Thin Controller about Duke. He arranged for Duke to be restored, and he returned to service in 1982. He later purchased two worn out Hunslet Diesels from the National Coal Board and, using parts from both engines, constructed Fred. He also arranged for Ivo Hugh to be built. 

In 1951, he married Rachael Qualtrough, a descendant of Lancelot Qualtrough, the last Bishop of Sodor. They have two children, Rebecca Dorothy (born 1954) and Handel Qualtrough (born 1957), who has administered the estate since 1994.



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