Knapford is a small town on the River Els estuary, south of Tidmouth, of which it is a dormitory. Knapford serves as the junction for the Ffarquhar Branch Line, as such, its station is called Knapford Junction. In the television series, Knapford is home to the main station on Sodor.
The Railway Series
For centuries the area below Elsbridge had been flooded both at high tide and when the river was in spate. At other times it looked innocent enough to tempt unwary invaders to choose this route inland. All without exception found themselves engulfed in bog.
During the 1880s the Ulfstead Mining Company became interested in the minerals (lead mostly) waiting to be found on the higher ground east of the marsh; but without a firm footing they could not be either extracted or transported away. Accordingly they called in A. W. Dry & Co who had experience of working on drainage problems in East Anglia. A. W. Dry built embankments across the flats north and south of the river (along which the main line of the railway now runs), and installed tide gates. The river was then embanked along its south eastern side, but the opposite bank was left open to provide a flood-pool for the normal river flow which could be drained off every day at low tide. It thus remained a marsh where the Elsbridge fenmen could carry on their activities as before, and since this, fortunately, was the side of the river they preferred, they offered little opposition to A. W. Dry's drainage operations on the east.
The present station at Knapford is the third on the site, and dates from 1956 when Sir Charles Topham Hatt disturbed by the congestion at Tidmouth, launched his Knapford Harbour Development Scheme. There are now two stations at Knapford - Junction and Harbour. Knapford has been useful as a supplementary harbour, but its exposed position has not enabled it to provide the best answer to Sir Topham Hatt’s problem. That was why in 1966 he went north to see what could be done at Arlesburgh.
The town of Knapford itself, though an important railway junction, is in a bleak position. It is a railway and dock town. Few people live here apart from railwaymen, dock workers and drainage engineers. It had a population of 2,200 in 1951. Farming, fishing and fowling also form part of the local economy.
Several maps show the main line terminating at the junction, though some books mention that the terminus is Tidmouth. What's more, Knapford appears to be larger than Tidmouth, whereas the Rev. W. Awdry stated in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways that it is smaller than Tidmouth.
Thomas & Friends
Knapford is the "Big Station" in the television series. It has a large canopy. The station has six tracks total, four being through tracks and two being terminal tracks. Knapford has a refreshment kiosk, the Engine Drivers locker room, M.C. BUNN, Sir Topham Hatt's Office and a bookstall. At one point, the bookstall was temporarily replaced by a toy shop. In Tale of the Brave, the station is given a new track layout and signal gantries were added above the lines.
In P.A. Problems, Sir Topham Hatt decided to upgrade the public announcement system with a new one called the TX-1000, but this caused problems as the sound quality was bad. He decided to switch it back afterwards.
Knapford High Street is located there.