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Toby is a GER C53 steam tram who came to Sodor after his tramway in East Anglia closed down. He has two coaches named Henrietta and Victoria and a luggage van named Elsie, and works on Thomas' Branch Line.
The Railway Series
Toby was built by James Holden at the Great Eastern Railway's Stratford Works in Stratford, London, England on 30th June, 1914. He originally lived at Great Yarmouth Docks, Norfolk with his brothers. Sometime between 31st July, 1923 and 1st January, 1948 Toby was chosen to be an attraction at a seaside village's Festival, and was repainted and polished for the event. However, after helping their branchline's engine, and seeing how smart he looked, the branchline was afraid that he would show them up, and didn't let him join in the Festival. After that he worked on an unnamed tramway in East Anglia. In 1951, Toby came to work at the quarry on Thomas' Branch Line after his tramway closed, as it was found to be illegal for Thomas to go on the Quarry Tramroad without sideplates or cowcatchers. At first, Toby was teased by James for his shabby paint. However, James stopped teasing him after he crashed into some tar wagons.
Toby also got into a bit of trouble with a diesel shunter named Mavis, as she was unwilling to shunt trucks where they needed to be placed. After an accident, the two engines made up their quarrel and became good friends.
When Mavis was sent to the works after her accident with a lorry, Toby did her work at the quarry, leaving Percy to do Toby's work as well as his own. Toby once came off the rails at a crossing when the earth was swollen over the rails and ended up on the road. Luckily, with the fireman guiding the driver, they managed to reverse Toby back on the rails. The Fat Controller, however, heard about it, but rather than being cross, he only joked with him and told him that he should leave the roads to what they were made for.
By 2007, Toby was having trouble taking the workmen to the quarry as Henrietta did not have enough room in her to carry them all at once. Bertie usually helped, but one day, he was ill and Henrietta was so full that some workmen even had to ride on her balcony. As he went past a part of his line that went through a town, he stopped quickly when a car came out of a side street and nearly collided with him. To make matters worse, a policeman witnessed the workmen riding on Henrietta's balcony and after he made a report, an inspector spoke to the quarry manager, telling him that passengers were not allowed to ride on coach balconies. Luckily, Thomas managed to help Toby when he found an old and worn out coach named Victoria, who was used as a summer house for many years when she was taken out of service. Victoria was eventually restored and now works with Toby and Henrietta along their line.
Thomas & Friends
When the Horrid Lorries arrived on the Island, Toby found his work at the quarry being taken over by Lorry 2 and his work at the mill being taken over by Lorry 3. When the two lorries became damaged and sent back to the docks, Toby threw Lorry 2's remarks about usefulness back at him.
After many weeks of rain, Toby inspected a dam for potential damage due to rising floodwaters along his branch line. While crossing the dam, Toby found that it was breaking and tried to return to safety, but the dam collapsed just as Toby was crossing a wooden bridge, which broke off and carried Toby toward a waterfall. Harold managed to drop one end of a rope to Toby and the other end to Percy, who pulled Toby to safety. Afterwards, a party was held for Toby and the Fat Controller praised Toby's bravery.
When taking the Fat Controller and his grandchildren to the seaside, the Fat Controller decided to use Toby for an exploration in search of a castle, which they found as well as a mine. Toby was scared of the mine's spooky atmosphere (certain it was haunted) and stayed on guard at night during the restoration. Thomas told Toby about the Old Warrior Ghost, who was really a narrow gauge engine named Bertram. After this, the two engines became good friends and now take visitors to and from the castle and mine. Toby once took Sir Topham Hatt's family on vacation again, this time to a small river inlet.
Toby has had several winter escapades. The thick fog concealed Thomas' crash site from Toby's view and the foghorn had been damaged from the landslide Thomas had crashed into. Luckily, Cyril the Fogman managed to place a detonator on the rails to warn Toby just in time. During the holidays, Toby was unable to clear the snowdrifts by himself, so he needed Thomas' help to deliver a Christmas tree to the festivities on his branch line. During one harsh winter, Toby had to rescue Farmer McColl's lambs that were trapped on a hillside.
Toby was given a temporary three-chime whistle while his bell was being cleaned at the Steamworks. It helped with warning Thomas and Gordon that the tracks were blocked. He once was scared of Knapford Junction.
He once ran out of coal while delivering scrap to Crocks Scrap Yard and after a few unsuccessful attempts at stopping passing engines to ask for some of their coal, Reg decided to lift Toby into the air so that the next engine would see him. Unfortunately, Thomas passed by and thought Reg was about to scrap Toby. After the story spread across the island, Emily took Henrietta to the scrapyard so that she and Toby could explain the truth.
In Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Thomas nearly collided with Toby while racing Bertie. The next morning, Toby attempted to warn Thomas about his red signal, but Thomas was too late to stop and collided with Emily and derailed Gordon's coaches. Thomas tried to blame him along with Gordon and Emily, but Sir Topham Hatt saw through his lie.
In the twentieth series, Toby met Philip for the first time and was rather taken aback by the boxcab's talkative nature and desire to have races. Philip also had mistaken Toby as a boxcab before realising Toby was a steam tram. Later, he told Thomas the trees look very spooky. Toby told Thomas and Percy that reminded the others about how the littlest goat survived by going across the bridge first and told the troll to eat his bigger brothers.
In the twenty-first series, after Toby took Henrietta to the Steamworks to get her seats refurbished, he was given a replacement carriage named Hannah. Hannah ordered him to go faster down the line and pushed him down Gordon's Hill, nearly making him derail. He got fed up with Hannah and abandoned her on a siding beside the main line. When he returned to the siding to fetch her, he saw James going fast with Hannah until she broke away and crashed into a siding. After Henrietta had her new seats fitted, he took Hannah to the Steamworks to be mended, where she reunited with Henrietta and revealed to him that they were sisters. Afterwards, he began working with Henrietta once again.
During the winter, Toby was taking some trucks when he was diverted into a siding to avoid colliding with Donald and Douglas. In doing so, he ended up running into a snow bank and while his driver dug him out, he had a beard of snow on his face for the rest of the day. He also took some holidaymakers to the Anopha Quarry instead of the seaside after he became confused because of the new P.A. system which was not working properly.
Thomas and the Magic Railroad
In the film, after Diesel 10 eavesdropped on Thomas and Percy talking about the buffers to the magic railroad, Toby told them to carry on taking the Mail Train while he followed him to the Smelters Yard. There, he distracted Diesel 10 by ringing his bell, which resulted in Diesel 10 demolishing the shed that he, Splatter and Dodge were in.
Stories From Sodor
Toby is old, but wise, hardworking and knowledgeable enough about running branch lines to justify running Thomas' line with Daisy after Percy's accident with the trucks until Thomas came back. He is also savvy enough to control the trucks. However, his advanced age and design means that he is weaker than the other engines. While Toby is always ready to work hard without any fuss, he can be a bit temperamental sometimes, especially when young and inexperienced engines who are full of themselves make things difficult for him. However, work at the quarry line often soothes off his moods without any cause of grief to anyone, except of course his old faithful coach, Henrietta.
Toby is based on the GER Class C53 0-6-0T Wisbech steam tram (reclassified as J70 by the LNER) built at Stratford Works. They were seen by the Reverend Wilbert and Christopher Awdry on a holiday at Yarmouth, hence Toby's origins. The J70 started their career on the Great Eastern Railway and were known as C53. They spent most of their career on the Wisbech and Upwell tramway pulling slow goods trains and, until 1927, passenger trains, though several were also assigned to the docks at Ipswich and Yarmouth. The first withdrawal came in 1942. Eventually, the sole survivor of this class was withdrawn from service and scrapped at Stratford Locomotive Works by 1955. They were replaced by BR Class 04s, Mavis' class.
According to The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railway and Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, Toby is probably BR no. 68221. This tram was built as GER no. 127 on 30th June 1914 as part of a batch of three at Stratford. Shortly after grouping on 1st January 1923, it became LNER no. 7127, this changing to no. 8221 under Edward Thompson's 1944 re-numbering scheme. Upon nationalisation on 1st January 1948, it became no. 68221. It was withdrawn on 31st May 1951 from Ipswich Shed and scrapped at Stratford shortly after.
In the Railway Series, Toby was painted brown with black cowcatchers and side plates (which had the initials LNER painted on the sides in yellow) before working on his tramway, where he was repainted grey-brown with grey side plates and cowcatchers. After helping James from an accident, he was repainted chocolate-brown with olive frames and blue side plates.
In the television series, Toby has always been brown with grey side plates and cowcatchers. His number is painted on his sides in yellow with red lining. Throughout the first to fifth series, Toby's wheels were painted red. They are currently painted black.
In the Railway Series, he carries two plaques on the sides of his cab stating that he works on the North Western Railway, his number and the last time and place that he was rebuilt.
In various books released by Publications International, the top side of his side plates are painted red, going along with his bufferbeams.