- “Our Jubilee is a Golden one, because, in 1995, it is 50 years since stories about us began being books.”
- ―The Fat Controller to the engines
Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines is the thirty-ninth book of the Railway Series.
I went to see the Fat Controller the other day. I told him that in 1995 it would be fifty years since the first stories about his Railway were published.
"Good gracious me!" he said. "We must do something to celebrate that."
And he set to work. Not everything went quite right. For instance, Thomas... but I won't spoil the stories - happy reading.
The Fat Controller tells the delighted engines that they will be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Railway Series this year. Gordon wants to pull the special train for the occasion, but the Fat Controller has borrowed Pip and Emma to pull the train. Gordon has no time to be upset though, because he has to leave to pull the Express. Near Henry's Tunnel, some crows are flying close to the railway. When Gordon startles them with his whistle, the birds fly too close to him, and with a bump the brakes suddenly come on. The crew eventually find a bird knocked the seal off Gordon's front brakepipe, and the train sets off again, but no one forgets the incident, and tease Gordon about it.
Edward and the Cabbages
James is late one day and Edward hurries to make up time. Edward notes his front feels wobbly, and as they pass a cabbage patch one of Edward's bogie wheels snaps off and disappears. Nothing is said of the accident, but a surprised farmer later discovers Edward's wheel in his cabbage patch.
Rabbits have been burrowing under the stretch before Dryaw, and the Fat Controller imposes a ten mp/h limit on the stretch until something is sorted out. The day before the decision is put into effect, Thomas is puffing across the stretch when a rail tilts and he comes off. Percy takes Annie and Clarabel home and after the workmen lift Thomas up with jacks to put rails underneath, Percy pulls him back to Knapford.
Henry is depressed and claims the Golden Jubilee will be a disaster. However, by the time the big day comes Thomas' Branch Line and Edward's wheels are both repaired and Edward is chosen to clear the line for Pip and Emma. Unluckily, Edward and the branchline engines are about to leave Knapford when a cobweb short-circuits the signal box. They are flagged through, and the ceremony goes without a hitch, with the guest of honour, the Royal Personage, declaring the engines to be a credit to the Fat Controller.
- The Fat Controller
- The Royal Personage
- Toby (does not speak)
- Douglas (does not speak)
- BoCo (does not speak)
- Mavis (does not speak)
- Pip (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- Harold (cameo)
- Bill and Ben (mentioned)
- Flying Scotsman (mentioned)
- Bahamas (mentioned)
- Bertie (mentioned)
- This marks the final appearances of Mavis and Harold in the Railway Series, as well as Duck and Donald's final speaking roles.
- Christopher Awdry's working title for this book was "The Fat Controller's Engines", but the publishers insisted on a "Thomas" link in the title.
- The Royal Personage is not named in the book, but Sodor: Reading Between the Lines confirms it is the Prince of Wales.
- This book was intended as a marketing tool; yet, ironically, while Christopher Awdry's books were out of print, this was the hardest one to obtain.
- A real life engine is mentioned: Bahamas, as well as a real life express train: The Silver Jubilee.
- Originally Barry the Rescue Engine was intended to be the thirty-ninth volume of the Railway Series and a follow-up to Wilbert the Forest Engine, but was cancelled.
- The event of this book took place in 1995, which was the same year as the fiftieth anniversary of the Railway Series.
- Birdstrike was based on a real event on the Great Western Railway in 1915.
- Rabbits was based on a real event at Rolvenden bank on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.
- The final two illustrations do not match the text. Gordon, James and Henry apparently arrived at the station first, but Thomas and Mavis managed to get in front of them. Furthermore, Edward should have been there, but he does not appear at all.
- Percy: Isn't a Jubilee a sort of party? Thomas and I took some Scouts to one once.
- Thomas: That was a jamboree.
- Percy: Was it? Sorry.