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A Bad Lot of Coal is the twenty-fourth story of volume three.

A Bad Lot of Coal
Season X, Episode 74
Air date 21 November 2021
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Molly and the Empty Trucks
Edward, James, and the Snow


Every day, Dodger sorts out coal trucks. Sometimes, coal is loaded into sacks and this is for what is called 'domestic' purposes such as for fire-places in peoples' homes. There is also the coal that is loaded into bunkers at various stations which is most common.

And just as importantly, there is a specific type of coal that is taken up to Peel Godred for use at the aluminium works.

One day, Dodger was shunting trucks as usual. James watched him doing his work.

"Dodger is certainly fussy about coal trucks," grinned James.

"Well, you better be thankful for that because otherwise, you might get the wrong coal and wouldn't be able to steam properly," retorted Dodger.

"I know. But seriously, how do you know everything about coal?"

"It's called learning. You should look into it."

"Perhaps about other things."

"Suit yourself then."

Then Dodger continued with his work.

Later, Molly arrived at Vicarstown. She saw a line of coal trucks.

"Dodger must have left those," she thought.

The Foreman came up.

"These coal trucks are for the aluminium works at Peel Godred, so you must take them to Killdane," he explained.

"So the ones to Edward's station have already been collected?"

"Yes, Donald came for them earlier."

"Thank goodness then. I'll get these to Killdane now."

So Molly coupled up to the coal trucks and delivered the trucks.

At Killdane, she met Donald.

"I juist delivered some wee trucks tae Edward's station," he told her. "Noo there's plenty of coal for yon Edward."

"That's good," said Molly.

Over at Edward's station, Edward was filling up with coal. Once he was done, he fetched his coaches, and waited for Henry to arrive.

In the meantime, the Fireman built up Edward's fire, and soon, his fire was burning fiercely and he had to let out steam.

Presently, Henry arrived.

"Hullo Edward. Lovely day, isn't it?"

"Hullo Henry. It is a nice day. Some more coal just got delivered and I'm feeling splendid."

"Good to hear!"

Then Edward's Guard blew the whistle.

"I'd best be off," said Edward.

"Have a good journey," called Henry.

Edward was making good time when he became to feel "stuffed-up". Black smoke billowed out of his funnel.

"I don't feel so well now," groaned Edward.

Edward struggled to Suddery.

"This must be a bad lot of coal," said Edward's Fireman.

"I'm sure I can make it to Brendam," wheezed Edward.

His Driver and Fireman were anxious but they agreed to let Edward try.

It wasn't easy. Edward could hardly catch his breath but finally, the Docks was near, and he was soon at the platform. Then he was uncoupled and went onto a siding out of the way.

Then BoCo rolled up.

"I hear you had a bad lot of coal. You don't look too well," he observed.

"I'll be fine," sighed Edward.

"I'm sure you will. For now, I'll take your train back to your station," continued BoCo.

"Thanks BoCo."

Then BoCo rolled away.

"I still wonder why we got a bad lot today," pondered Edward.

The news soon reached Vicarstown.

"That's odd," said Dodger. "I'm sure today was a good lot."

"So did I," put in Molly, "but apparently not."

"That means the only possibility that exists is that there was some sort of confusion," said David.

Then the Stationmaster came up. He had important news for them.

"As it turns out, there was a confusion. Earlier, Donald took the coal trucks meant for Peel Godred to Edward's station. This is the coal that Edward used and well, we know what happened."

"I still don't understand why the deliveries got mixed up," said Dodger.

"The work-order was mis-labelled," explained the Stationmaster.

"That makes sense," said Molly. "I think we better get a new lot of coal to Edward's station now."

"In that case, I better go and get some more coal trucks," said Dodger, and he hurried off.

In no time at all, Molly had delivered some fresh coal to Edward's station. Jenna was glad to see her.

"Good thing you're here. Now we can get rid of that bad lot and replace it with this good lot of coal."

"Yes indeed!" said Molly. "And I promise you this is the right type of coal."

Jenna took the trucks to the coal hopper whilst Molly went into the shed and saw Edward.

"Hullo Edward. I heard what happened to you. I hope you're all right," said Molly.

"Hey Molly. I'll be fine once my firebox is cleaned out," replied Edward.

"You see, there was some confusion up at Vicarstown. The coal was delivered to the wrong places," explained Molly.

"I understand. It was just a mistake," said Edward, kindly.

"Thanks for understand."

"No harm done. It'll take some time but once my firebox is cleaned out, I'll be back."

It took a long time to properly clean out Edward's firebox but once it was done, he fetched some good coal and was soon back at work.

The next day, Dodger told James all about the coal mix-up.

"Now you can see why it's important to know where each coal delivery goes," grinned Dodger.

"I knew that already," chuckled James. "Anyways, Edward is fine and he's back in steam."

"Yeah, it's good everything worked out."

The two engines agreed that it just goes to show what a little mix-up can cause.




  • The original title for this story was The Wrong Sort of Coal.
  • This story was inspired from a tweet from Sir Richard Topham Hatt and also the mention of the "wrong sort of coal" in Saving Edward.