|Christmas at Norwich|
|Season X, Episode 50|
|Air date||24 December 2020|
James and the Pipes
Hey everyone, this is just a little preview of this story which will be released completely on Christmas Eve. I do have some behind-the-scenes details about this story. Ever since I retconned Molly and Dodger's arrival on Sodor, I thought it'd be nice to have a story showing how they met. So, this story is the result of that. Stay tuned, the rest of the story is coming in just a few days.
It's Christmas Eve now, and I just wanted to say that once again, it has been fun releasing these stories throughout the year. I still enjoy writing despite everything that has happened with the show. Now, this is the final story of the year and I hope you enjoy it. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays, stay safe and I will see you around.
Molly and Dodger have been friends for a very long time. They knew each other even before coming to Sodor. When I last spoke to them, they both told me that they still remember how they first met. It is certainly something they remember fondly since it was the beginning of a very nice friendship. So, I hope you enjoy reading about how they first met at Norwich Thorpe.
Norwich Thorpe, 1949
One spring morning at Norwich Thorpe, a new engine had just arrived.
"So it seems like we have number 68899, a J50 from the Northern Region," said a shunter.
"Yes indeed," said the Manager. "Welcome to Norwich. We could definitely use a good shunter like you."
"Thanks. I'm always happy to work," replied No. 68899. Then, he set to work. He soon proved to be very useful and at times was even called back to Doncaster. But for the most part, he remained at Norwich. He also acquired the name 'Dodger' at around this time. He worked closely with some of his brothers and sisters who were also at Norwich.
One autumn morning, Dodger was getting ready for work and heard some of the big engines talking.
"They're awake already huh," whispered No. 68899 to his brother, Don was No. 68905.
"And always grumbling and whatnot," whispered Don, back.
This time, the two tank engines were quite interested in what some of the others were saying. Some of the 'Claud Hamiltons' were saying, "Several more of our sisters are coming in today."
"Like we don't already have enough of them," chuckled Dodger, quietly.
"All in apple green making it impossible to tell them apart," added Don.
"I guess for every J50 there's twenty 'Clauds'," put in Dodger.
"Something like that, I guess," said Don.
Then the brothers laughed and went to work.
Later that day, the 'Claud Hamiltons' were in the yard.
Dodger was shunting nearby. He saw their shining coats of paint. It was a contrast of his dirty, sooty coat.
"I might as well give them a warm welcome," he thought to himself. "Hullo! Welcome to Norwich. My name is Dodger," he called.
"Ah," said one of them, who was No. 62561, "you must be the 'pilot engine'."
"Yes, I am one of them," replied Dodger.
"Good to know," said another.
"Now," said No. 62561, "we have come to do our work without fuss. Maybe not expresses as back in the days of the Great Eastern Railway, but we're still very capable."
"That being said," cut in No. 62564, "I have a train due in thirty minutes. Please make sure my coaches are ready."
"I will have to stop you right there," said Dodger. "You may be big engines and all that, but there's a way to how things run around here. And by that, I mean that I have to shunt several goods trains so someone else will fetch your coaches."
"Oh, I'm sure you have time."
"Well, if you help out with shunting trucks, then I suppose I could . . ."
"Fine. Do whatever you want. I wouldn't want to work with trucks anyway. They're nothing but trouble."
"Eh, they're not all bad," said a soft voice. It came from No. 62592.
"Oh, just 'cause you pulled a couple goods train and it all went well," protested No. 62561. "I've heard of accidents caused by trucks."
"Well surely, Dodger knows more about trucks," replied No. 62592.
"That little tank engine, pah!"
"Well yes, this 'little' tank engine knows plenty about trucks," cut in Dodger. "More than I need to, in fact. And now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to work."
"Common tank engine," scoffed some of the 'Claud Hamiltons'. "Typical of them to be rude."
"He did say he was busy," put in No. 62592.
So, Dodger continued his day's work. He did bring some coaches for No. 62564 in the evening.
"I thought you were too busy with trucks to fetch coaches," she grumbled.
"You didn't think I'd leave you here without coaches, did you!" laughed Dodger.
"You better not."
Dodger just laughed. "You should at least say thank you."
62564 just scoffed. Dodger chuckled and puffed away.
The next morning, he brought coaches for 62592.
"Thank you!" she called.
Dodger had to stop for a moment.
"Hold, hold on. What was that?"
"Huh, so I did hear right."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing. Just that, you're welcome."
She was still confused but she just smiled and was soon on her way.
Meanwhile, Dodger was talking to Don.
"It's something unprecedented," said Dodger. "A thanks from another engine."
"From a passenger engine. The goods engines are quite amicable," said Don.
"Yeah. But especially the Claud Hamiltons. I'm always on them how the coaches magically moved themselves."
"I guess maybe she isn't as pompous as some of the others."
"Yeah, there are some big engines who are great to talk to. Perhaps she's one of them."
A week later, Dodger puffed into the shed and saw No. 62592 resting there.
"Hullo," she smiled. "How is your day so far?"
"All is well," replied Dodger.
Then silence fell. Dodger was wondering what to say next but he didn't know what.
"So, do you have a service to run soon?" he asked.
"Yeah. In an hour," she replied.
"Well, I could fetch your coaches you know."
"I appreciate that."
"You do? I mean, I'll have them ready!"
Dodger puffed away still thinking about her.
"She seems a friendly sort of engine," he thought. "Perhaps a bit timid but still, kind."
He was puffing into the station when he heard a voice.
"That's my girl," said his Driver. "Glad you could come," he said to his wife.
"Well, she does like to watch the engines," she replied.
"It's great to see you both," said the Driver. "Now Molly, you're going to see a 'Claud Hamilton' take this train."
Dodger didn't think much of it. He was glad for his Driver, his wife, and his daughter Molly but he had other thoughts in his mind.
Presently, No. 62592 backed down onto the coaches. Passengers boarded the coaches and soon the Guard was waiting with his flag and whistle.
"Have a nice journey!" called Dodger.
"Thanks!" replied Molly and puffed away.
The next couple months seemed to go by fast. Each day, Dodger felt like he was getting to know No. 62592 even better. His Driver's daughter also continued to come down to the station.
Then December came, and lots of rain came too.
One dark, rainy night, Dodger puffed into the sheds after he had fetched the coaches for the late night service.
"I'm glad to be out of the rain," he said to no-one in particular. Then he noticed No. 62592 next to him. "Still awake?" he asked her.
"Well the rain just keeps coming down," she replied.
"I know. And I'm quite used to it but I still can't help feeling cold," he added.
Silence came upon them.
At last, Dodger broke the silence.
"You know, over the past few months, it has been a pleasure whenever I get to talk to you," he began. "When I first met some of your sisters, I almost thought you were the same way but I quickly realised that you're quite nice and I appreciate that. We tank engines don't always get the respect we deserve if I do say so myself."
"You can say that again," murmured some of the tank engines, rather sleepily.
No. 62592 chuckled quietly.
"I think some of us tend to think of tank engines as grumpy and rude so that makes us rude as well," she said.
"Interesting. I suppose it creates a bit of banter between us which I do enjoy."
"You do tease all the big engines."
"Yeah, but usually it's a comeback. Honestly, I get along fine with all the engines. Especially you."
And as the rain continued to pour, the two talked till at last, they finally fell asleep.
The next few weeks were quite fun. Christmas was approaching and the J50 and 'Claud Hamilton' were always looking out for each other and talking whenever they could.
Finally, it was Christmas Eve. The last train had left the station so Dodger went back to the shed. He found No. 62592 there already.
"Merry Christmas Dodger," said the Driver and Fireman.
"Merry Christmas to both of you," replied Dodger, and he watched them leave to enjoy Christmas.
"Well, I suppose we have each other to talk to for Christmas," said No. 62592.
Dodger was glad.
"You know, I just thought of something."
No. 62592 listened closely.
"You really should have a name."
"D'you think so?"
"Of course. Sure, BR won't officially know about it, but all my sisters and brothers have done it."
"Do you have a name in mind?"
"I do actually." He paused impressively. "Molly."
"I know it's the name of my Driver's daughter. He has a great family. I always enjoy seeing them. And I always enjoy seeing you too." He paused for a moment. "Do you like it?"
"So Molly it is!"
"Thanks Dodger. Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas Molly!"
Molly and Dodger enjoyed Christmas. They talked and laughed the whole time. Dodger told Molly all about his work back at Ardsley.
"I was also at Doncaster for a year and half," said Dodger. "I had the chance to meet the Flying Scotsman himself."
Molly told him about her days pulling expresses in the Eastern Region.
"It was fun speeding down the line with the wind whistling past and going non-stop," said Molly. "It was hard work though and eventually, I was moved to local trains which are a nice change or least I think so."
Soon, it was Christmas morning and all around the shed, the engines were wishing each other "Merry Christmas."
Molly and Dodger enjoyed their time together most of all.
Late that night, the engines went to sleep.
"That was one of the best Christmas days ever," said Dodger. "I had fun, did you?" he asked Molly.
"I did," replied Molly. "I have a name that suits me and now I know you even better."
"I just hope that whatever happens, we can still be friends."
"Of course. Even if we go our separate ways."
"For now though, I look forward to getting back to work."
"So do I," agreed Molly.
The two engines were glad to be friends now and they went to sleep content.
Molly and Dodger worked at Norwich for several years and they always enjoyed talking and laughing together. And though they had several more Christmases and other times together, they remember their first Christmas together most of all because that was when they really became friends.
- Don (BR No. 68905)
- Various 'Claud Hamiltons'
- Various tank engines
- Flying Scotsman (mentioned)
Various other BR locomotives also appear.
- Norwich Thorpe
- Doncaster (mentioned)
- Ardsley (mentioned)
- This story reveals how Dodger and Molly first met. The Writer has mentioned that this has been an idea since the release of Real Engines.
- A short preview was released on 20 December. The full story was published on 24 December.