The Fat Controllers
So far, there have been three controllers in charge of the North Western Railway.
Sir Topham Hatt (1880-1956)
Topham Hatt was apprenticed at Swindon Works at age fourteen and seems to have struck a friendship with W. A. Stanier during his time there. He came to Sodor in 1901 and joined A. W. Dry & Co. at Tidmouth. On their recommendation, he became engineer to the Tidmouth, Knapford and Elsbridge Light Railway in 1909, the Tidmouth, Wellsworth & Suddery in 1912, and the North Western Railway upon its formation in 1914. On the North Western Railway, he rose to be general manager in 1923, managing director in 1936, and upon Nationalisation in 1948, he was created a baronet on his appointment as chairman of the Regional Executive.
He married Jane, sister of Mr. Handel Brown, and retired in 1954 in favour of his son Charles, whom the board had no hesitation in electing as his successor.
In The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, he was nicknamed The Fat Director before his nickname changed to The Fat Controller in James the Red Engine.
In the television series, Sir Topham Hatt remains controller.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt II (1914-1997)
Sir Charles Topham Hatt was the Fat Controller from 1954 to 1984, when he retired in favour of his own son. During his period of office, he began improvements to the harbour at Knapford, planned by his father, and reopened the Arlesburgh branch in 1965/6, being responsible for the construction of the Arlesdale Railway and for establishing the ballast consortium which uses it.
His cousin, Sir Handel Lloyd Brown II, was born in 1924. He married Amanda Croarie in 1940 and they had two children, Stephen Topham, born 1941, and Bridget, born 1943. Charles inherited his father's baronetcy in 1956.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt II is not featured in the television series.
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt III (1941-)
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt (who first appeared in Toby the Tram Engine while on a family holiday in East Anglia with his parents and grandfather) became the Fat Controller in 1984, succeeding to his father's baronetcy in 1997. In 1970, he married Helen Margaret, a distant cousin and granddaughter of the Reverend Nicholas Dreswick, the much-respected historian of Sodor. They had three children: Richard Topham, born in 1972 and no doubt destined to be Sir Topham Hatt IV (his father turned seventy-two in 2013, though he has, as yet, given no hint of retiring), Charles Nicholas (1974-) and Emily Helen (1977-).
He played a part in arranging the construction of the Arlesdale Railway's new locomotive, Jock, in 1990, a project which had been dear to his father's heart. With great skill, he masterminded the arrangements for the royal visit in 1995, when he welcomed the Prince of Wales on his visit to Sodor.
In the television series, Stephen Hatt doesn't age and his grandfather remains controller.
Sir Richard Topham Hatt IV (1972-)
In Adventures on Rails, as of 2014, Richard Topham Hatt has become the new Fat Controller of the North Western Railway. Richard, since a young child had a lot of interest, like his father before him, in the railway. He knew a lot of the engines, and they knew him too. When his father announced his retirement in 2014, the board took no doubt in electing Richard to become the next Fat Controller of the North Western Railway. He seems to carry on a habit of bad driving skills and especially enjoys going down to M.C. BUNN with Winston. He is married and has three children.
The Fat Controller in the television series
In the television series, the first controller, in the Railway Series, remains in charge of the North Western Railway. He can easily be described as combination of the three controllers from the Railway Series. He considers he's a gentleman of merit, with a railway exquisitely fine, and has no favourite engines.
Prior to his becoming Controller of the North Western Railway, Sir Bertram Topham Hatt owned a Sentinel steam lorry named Elizabeth, who notes that he wasn't the best driver. When he was a young man, Edward always took him aboard an old coach on his birthday. The Fat Controller later received his knighthood for his service to the railway industry. Sir Topham was also the controller of the Skarloey Railway, until Mr. Percival was hired to help him manage the ever-increasing size of his railway industry. In the Sixteenth season, he gained a track inspection car named, Winston, which is often used as a private transportation vehicle on the railway.
Sir Topham Hatt married Lady Hatt, and is the grandfather of Stephen and Bridget Hatt. He has a twin brother, Sir Lowham Hatt, and his mother is Dowager Hatt. According to the Official Website, "we have yet to meet his children", presumably Charles Hatt, who became the second controller in the Railway Series.
As well as owning several engines, he owns a cat, two cars, and lives a mansion somewhere on the outskirts of Wellsworth. However, when the engines misbehave, it's Edward that the Fat Controller turns to in order to calm everyone down and restore order.
The Fat Controller is seen as a firm but fair character. He can be strict, but also shows a fatherly side to the engines. He is quite a strong character and will remind the engines that he is in charge when they start to rebel against his authority. He does not stand bullying and, even though he is usually serious, he does enjoy a good laugh. Despite his kindness and fairness, however, there are times where he berates the engines for things beyond their control.
The Fat Controller is a short, stout gentleman. He is usually dressed in a black suit with grey trousers, a cream or yellow waistcoat, a black tie, and a top hat. He is most often depicted as having thinning grey hair and blue eyes.
Adventures on Rails
- Season 11 - Toby the Tram Engine, Dirty Objects, Old Iron, Nix the Loaned Engine, The Unstoppable Nix, Nix and the Troublesome Boys, and Edward Returns.
- Season 12 - Diesel Does it Again, Project 11001, David's Restoration, Bowled Out, Percy's Important Job, Dirty Percy, A Surprise for Percy, and Freedom at Last!.
- Season 13 - Edward's Exploit (does not speak), Tenders for Henry, Enterprising Engines Part 1, Enterprising Engines Part 2, Toad Stands By, Bulgy (episode) (mentioned), New Friends, Old Enemies, and Paxton and Norman.
- Season 14 - Paxton and the Blue Mountain Quarry, James and Paxton, Edward to the Rescue, Nix and the Flying Kipper, Salty's Secret, Gordon Takes a Tumble, Dirty Tricks, Duncan's Dive (does not speak), and Something Fishy.
- Season 15 - Points of No Return, Thomas' Christmas Tales, Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree, and The Fireworks Display.
- Season 16 - Den and Dart (mentioned), Dodger and the Avalanche, Dodger's New Routine, Edward and Rocky, New Challenges, Thomas and the Great Railway Show Part 1 (does not speak), Faithful Coaches, and Henry and the Express.
- Season 17 - Sir Topham Hatt's New Car, The Three Little Engines Part 1, The Three Little Engines Part 3, The Football Special, Rules and Regulations, Wildfire, Best Dressed Engine (cameo), and Three Cheers for Thomas!.
- Season 18 - Thomas and the Hurricane, Percy's Big Mistake, Thomas, Percy and the Mail Train, James and Percy, Percy and James' Accident.
- Season 19 - Rescue Mission, Most Beautiful Station, Diesel Shunters, Middle Engines, Incoming, Flying Objects, and Stepney's Visit.
- Season 20 - Oliver and the Electric Engines, Twin Trouble, Den and Dart Save the Day, It's Great to Be Down By the Seaside!, The Special Delivery (mentioned), Sir Topham Hatt's Birthday Present, Home Coming, Percy and the Storm, An Ordinary Day on Edward's Branch Line, Diesel Dream, and Ceremonium.
- James and Percy
- The Legend of the Ghost Train
- The Escape Plan
- The Hurricane
- Thomas and the Avalanche
- Thomas, the Really Useful Engine
- James and the Fat Controller
- Saving the Mountain Engines
- Very Famous Engines
- That's What Friends Are for
- Real Engines (mentioned)
- Work and Play
- Home Sweet Home
- Best Engines Ever
The New Adventures on Rails
- Volume one - Tenderfirst (mentioned), Signals Crossed, Stuck in the Snow, Warm Coaches (mentioned), Garage Sale, The Fire, Record Breaker (does not speak), High Tide, Blown Away, Saving Edward, Coal Strike, and Jessie and the Frozen Points.
- Volume two - Taking Toby to the Works, Gordon's Last Run, New Livery (mentioned), Gordon's Buffers (does not speak), Trevor's Visit (mentioned).
- Season 1 - Stuck in the Mud, Winston and the Signal, Where's BoCo?, Improper Engines (mentioned), Harvey Goes Fishing, Thomas' Special Coach, Be On Your Guard!, Nicholas the Crane, Diesel Domination, Winston and Elizabeth, Dave the Diesel, and The Christmas Tree
- Season 2 - Runaway Coaches, Frozen Points, The Early Whirlybird, Fergus the Generator, Stanley and the Flood, Forest Fire, Molly and the Mountain Engines (mentioned), The Peel Godred Branch Line, Miniature Engines, Mike and James, Gordon and the Sharp Bend, Hiro and the Express, Dave's Scary Tale, The Loch Ness Monster (mentioned), The Importance of Being Neville, Independence, Diesel Day, and Bluebells Forever
- Season 3 - Percy and the Diesels, Old Slow Coach, Homesickness, Edward and the Poachers, Hector the Ballast Hopper, Sidney Helps Out, CoBo, The Seaside Ghost (mentioned), The Ghost on the Viaduct, Pompous Popularity, Jonathon and Stafford, Cold Chaos, and Luke and the Christmas Party (mentioned)
- Season 4 - Thomas and Algy, Banker Banter, Triple Trouble, The Odd One Out, Flora and the Troublesome Coach, The Runaway Koby, It's Not Easy Being Green, Famous Engines, Jason's Lost Friend (flashback), The Wrong Sort of Coal, Broken Down Crane, James and Flynn, and George Strikes Again
- Season 5 - Sodor Snowstorm, The Big City Engine, Nigel (mentioned), Silver Steam, Stanley's Branch Line,
- Thomas and Percy
- Gordon and Spencer: An LNER Rivalry
- Thomas and the Ghost Engine
- Roadways Versus Railways
- Sodor and the Meaning of Christmas
- The Curse of the Flying Kipper
Sodor Adventure Rewrites
- Season 1 - James Strikes Out (mentioned)
The Many Adventures on the Island of Sodor
- Season 1 - Double Diesel Trouble, A Bad Day for James, Paxton Gets Pranked, Daisy the Green-Eyed Railcar, James and the Railway Inspector, The "Special" Visitors, The Joke's on Them, One of the Family (does not speak), Bertie Rides the Rails, Brake Van Bother (mentioned), Toby Gets Tough, A Friend in Ferdinand, Terence, Max and Monty (mentioned), Luke's Lucky Find (mentioned), Old Engine, New Changes (mentioned), Franklin the Forklift, and Franklin All Around Sodor (mentioned)
- Season 2 - BoCo's Return, BoCo’s Boxcab Bother, Bill and Ben's Big Mistake, Rosie Takes Over, Daisy Does it All, Henry Knows Best, Arthur's New Route, Clean vs. Dirty, Edward’s Escapade, Second Rate Engines, Peter Sam and the Lost Engine (mentioned), and The Search for Neil (does not speak; flashback)
- Season 1 - Steamie Stakeout, Thunder Strikes, True Blue, Which Way?, Hard Hatt, A Cousin's "Love", and Derek & Marion
- Season 2 - Diesel's Redemption (mentioned), Double Trouble, Two Old Men, James and Daisy, No Funny Business, BoCo and the Branch Line - Part 1, BoCo and the Branch Line - Part 3, Gone Hunting (cameo), and Interrogation
- Due to political correctness, the Fat Controller is always known by his Sunday name of "Sir Topham Hatt" in America.
- According to Elizabeth, Sir Topham Hatt was a bad driver in his younger days. In the seventeenth season, it seems his skills have not improved.
- Throughout the television series, Sir Topham Hatt is accompanied by two men in standard blue railway uniforms. They are presumed to be his bodyguards.
- The Fat Controller received his knighthood for his service to the railway industry.