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Toby the Tram Engine as portrayed on TV.

Toby is a fictional tram engine from The Railway Series by Rev. W. Awdry, as well as the TV Series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. He works on the same Ffarquhar branch line as Thomas the Tank Engine.

He is a tram engine with cowcatchers and sideplates covering his wheels. His main job since coming to the Isle of Sodor is taking the trucks of stone to and from the quarry with his coach Henrietta, but he also helps with other jobs on the line (from collecting hay to shooing bulls off the line). He is old and wise, and is always willing to help other engines with the benefit of his experience. He is often the one responsible for resolving arguments between Thomas and Percy. In Railway Series continuity, he now also works with Victoria. and the two of them with Henrietta form the "vintage train" that takes workers to and from the quarry.

He is equipped with a loud bell, but only has small water tanks. For this reason, he is unable to make long journeys on his own, and needs help to do so. One time, Toby ran out of water on the main line and had to be helped to the work station by James while pulling his express. The latter was disgusted because some children thought that James couldn't pull the express and that Toby needed to help him.

Toby and Henrietta used to work on a branch line in East Angliamarker carrying agricultural produce. Unfortunately, buses and lorries arrived and took all their work, and so the branch line was doomed to close. But luckily a stout gentleman arrived on a holiday with his family. Toby thought the gentleman was very nice, but little did he know that he was none other than Sir Topham Hatt, the Fat Controller. When Thomas later had an encounter with an officious policeman, the Fat Controller urgently needed an engine with cowcatchers and sideplates; he remembered Toby and immediately arranged for Toby and Henrietta to come to Sodor. Toby was very grateful, and since then has more than proved his worth with his expertise in all branch line matters. He made friends with fellow branch line engines Thomas and Percy. However, the big engines like James were rude to Toby because he was different but Toby always outsmarts his bullies.

He first appeared in the Railway Series in Toby the Tram Engine (1952), and appeared in several subsequent books. In 1988 he appeared in the second book devoted to him, Toby, Trucks and Trouble by Christopher Awdry. He appeared in the first season of the television series and is considered to be one of the central characters.

Colm Feore provided the voice of Toby in the film Thomas and the Magic Railroad.

Toby is one of the few characters to have his own song ('Toby'), based upon his theme by Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell.


The prototype for Toby is a J70 class tram engine from the Great Eastern Railway. His cowcatchers and sideplates allow him to run on roadside tramways, which other engines are not allowed to do for safety reasons. J70s were used for light duties, such as branch line work and dock shunting. His original number was 68221.

They were most famously used on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, which local residents have erroneously claimed was the inspiration for Toby. Actually, inspiration for the character came from the Rev. W. and Christopher Awdry watching a J70 at work at Great Yarmouthmarker, and Toby Trucks and Trouble recounts in passing his work at a harbour with his brothers, but all official biographies of the character state that he did come from that line.

In the Railway Series, Toby received a new livery of chocolate brown with blue sideplates (his colour remained the same in the TV series). This livery was designed to mimic that which he would have worn on the Great Eastern Railway.

Unfortunately, no J70s survive in preservation, but the Battlefield Linemarker has constructed a diesel powered replica of Toby as have the East Anglian Railway Museummarker

On the Rev. W. Awdry's model railway, Toby was represented by a Y6, a locomotive similar to but smaller than the J70. Awdry wrote an article for Railway Modeller magazine on the construction of this locomotive.

Christopher Awdry has said that Toby is his favourite character, partly because he was there when his father received the inspiration to create him, but also because as a child he had travelled in the cab of two J70s.


Henrietta is Toby's faithful coach. As she is charmingly introduced in the book: "Toby is attached to Henrietta". She worked with Toby on their old railway, and when that line closed Toby could not bear to leave her behind. The stationmaster had wanted to turn her into a henhouse, but the Fat Controller agreed that "that would never do." The two are absolutely inseparable, and whenever they are apart they worry about each other.

Henrietta carries passengers and is used to bring quarry workers to and from work. She has even been used as the Fat Controller's private coach.

In the Railway Series books Henrietta was the only named character not to be shown with a face, until book 41 of the series, Thomas and Victoria. In this book, Henrietta is depicted with a small rectangular face where a window on the end doors would be. It is the same colour as her cabin, like the other coaches.

In the TV series, Henrietta has always been modelled without a face.

Henrietta is based on a Wisbech and Upwell Tramway four-wheeled coach.


Toby also has a brake van named Elsie, mentioned in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways and the 1979 Thomas the Tank Engine Annual. However, she has not yet appeared in any stories. According to Rev. W. Awdry, she is based upon a Wisbech and Upwell Tramway luggage van and shares a shed with Henrietta.

Full Size Replicas

Replica Toby and Henrietta
Toby replica on Avon Valley Railway
Many preserved railways hold Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends events.

There are at least two replica Toby locomotives in the UK.

One is based at the East Anglian Railway Museummarker. However unlike the J70 steam loco that Toby is based on, the replica Toby is in fact a diesel-hydraulic 0-4-0 shunter with a metal casing over it. When this diesel was converted a replica Henrietta was built from scratch. The underframe was taken from an old box van, but the body was a complete new build.

Toby and Henrietta can be seen running on the Museum's Thomas & Friends days and also at some other preserved railways around the country from time to time.

Another replica tours the country; pictured here at the Avon Valley Railwaymarker on their 'Thomas Day' in May 2007.

Toby in the television series

Toby in Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Toby is first seen reminding the other engines that they must not let Diesel 10 push them around. Later, after Diesel 10 overhears Thomas and Percy's conversation about how Mr. Conductor travels to Sodor, Toby manages to stall Diesel 10 by ringing his bell. Diesel 10 attempts to attack Toby by means of his claw, but instead brings a shed down on himself and his cronies. 'Full Cast and Crew for Thomas and the Magic Railroad' (2005) at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 18, 2005.


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