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The Mid Sodor Railway is a fictional narrow gauge railway on the Island of Sodor in The Railway Series of children's books by the Rev.W.Awdry and Christopher Awdry. The railway was closed in 1947, but three of its engines survive on the Skarloey Railway. Part of its route is now occupied by the Arlesdale Railway.

The railway ran from the coast at Arlesburgh along the Arlesdale valley then through the Sudrian mountains to King 'Orry's Bridge near the town of Peel Godred. At Arlesburgh it met a branch of the standard gauge North Western or Fat Controller's Railway

The main sheds and works for the railway were at Arlesdale Green station.

The railway was at first a goods-only line for mineral traffic from the lead mines in the valley but with the arrival of tourists to Sodor it started carrying passengers, with connections at Arlesburgh for the ferries to the Isle of Manmarker. The mountain section to Peel Godred was built to give the people of Peel a rail connection after plans for the Sodor & Mainland Railway to extend here were cancelled. Although the MSR's station was on the edge of the town it had once planned to build one in the town centre.

The MSR was responsible for the creation of the Culdee Fell Railway although there was no connecting station for the two lines.

The railway has so far only appeared in the book Duke the Lost Engine, but has been mentioned in others.

Locomotives

Over its near-sixty-year existence, the MSR utilised a number of engines, most of which remain unrecorded. Four engines are mentioned in the books, and these are described below.

Duke

In the book, Duke is described as being built in 1879 for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway. He was named after the Duke of Sodor. He worked alongside Sir Handel and Peter Sam (then known as Falcon and Stuart respectively) until 1947, at which time the line closed and Duke was sheeted and sheltered in Arlesdale Sheds. He was later discovered by Mr. Fergus Duncan in 1969 and taken by road and rail to Crovan's Gate, where he was restored and returned to service in 1984.

Stanley

In the book, Stanley came from America. He had a tendency to ride roughly on the rails. He is depicted as arrogant and careless, believing that it didn't matter if he came off the track occasionally. However, this attitude resulted in his being converted into a pumping engine. He last worked at the Cas-ny-Hawin mine until he broke down in December 1946 and the mine became flooded. With no reason to stay open, the Mid Sodor Railway closed down the next month and Stanley was scrapped.

He appeared in one illustration of "Duke the Lost Engine", as a pumping engine at the back of the engine shed. The engine is only known as "No. 2" in that book; his name was not revealed until the publication of "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways".

Stanley is based on a Baldwin Locomotive Worksmarker 4-6-0 World War I military engine sold after the war to the Welsh Highland Railwaymarker where it ran as No. 590. The engine was reputed to ride roughly and was broken up for scrap in 1942.

Stanley's role is taken by Smudger in the television series, but he appears to be more akin to Rheneas than a Baldwin.

Falcon

Falcon was Sir Handel's name when he worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. After its closure in 1947, he and Stuart were purchased by the aluminium works at Peel Godred for an expansion project. After its completion in 1951, the two were purchased by the Skarloey Railway for fifty pounds altogether and renamed.

Falcon was based on Corris Railwaymarker No. 3, which now works on the Talyllyn Railwaymarker as "Sir Haydn".

Stuart

Stuart was Peter Sam's name when he worked on the Mid Sodor Railway. After its closure in 1947, he and Falcon were purchased by the aluminium works at Peel Godred for an expansion project. After its completion in 1951, the two were purchased by the Skarloey Railway for fifty pounds altogether and renamed.

Stuart was based on Corris Railway No. 4, which now works on the Talyllyn Railway as "Edward Thomas".

Inspiration

The Mid Sodor Railway can claim many sources of inspiration. Most obviously, it takes inspiration from the Corris Railwaymarker and the Ffestiniog Railwaymarker. Some of the architecture, locomotives and rolling stock are clearly based on the former line. This is most notable in the case of Falcon and Stuart, which are based on the Corris Railway's number 3 and 4 respectively.

The Ffestiniog Railway's influence is most obvious in the character of Duke, an engine based on the Ffestiniog locomotive Prince; some of the rolling stock is also Ffestiniog-inspired. Like the Ffestiniog, the MSR is designed as a narrow gauge main line. In the history of the MSR, Awdry mentions Ffestiniog engineer James Spooner's involvement.

Readers have also identified elements of the Welsh Highland Railwaymarker (the character Stanley), the Snailbeach District Railways (the engine shed) and Owd Ratty (the original gauge Ravenglass & Eskdale Railwaymarker), among others, used by Gunvor & Peter Edwards the artists who illustrated Duke the Lost Engine.

In model form

Rev. W. Awdry owned two model railways, one after the other. Both were based on the ideas of the MSR and "V1" as mentioned in some modelling magazines had the following roster: Albert (No. 5), Jim (No. 6), Tim (No. 7), Jerry, John, Jennings, as well as the mine engines Atlas and Alfred.

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