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Recap / Thomas The Tank Engine S 1 E 21 Toby And The Stout Gentleman

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U.S. Title: Toby the Tram Engine

Air date: December 18th, 1984

Toby is a tram engine, who lives and works on his own little railway. He has cowcatchers and sideplates to help prevent accidents, causing him to look quite unlike a steam engine. He has his own coach called Henrietta, who always rides along with him. Sadly, Toby and Henrietta have both seen better days and the amount of passengers and trucks they carry have been reducing due to the increase of roads. The passengers would rather travel by bus, while companies send their cargo by lorry.

One day a stout gentleman, his wife, and two grandchildren visit the railway while on holiday. The two children note that Toby looks unusual for an engine and the gentleman tells them that he is a tram engine. After accidentally offending Toby by thinking he was electric, the two children want a ride. The gentleman agrees and the whole family take a ride in Henrietta, who couldn't be happier to have passengers again.


Afterwards, the gentleman speaks to Toby and thanks him for a lovely journey. Toby notes to himself that the gentleman knows how to speak to engines. The family returns everyday for two weeks for rides with Toby, sometimes riding with the guard or sometimes inside empty trucks. On the last day, they ride with Toby's crew in his cab.

Everyone is sorry when the family has to leave and Toby asks them to come back some day; the family promises. As the months pass, Toby finds himself carrying even fewer passengers and goods. Soon the inevitable happens and Toby's controller decides to shut the line down much to Toby's grief.

Later that day, a lot of people come out for the chance at a last ride on Toby and fill up Henrietta. Although the passengers treat the occasion like a celebration, Toby and his driver know it's anything but. Afterwards, the passengers wish Toby a sad goodbye and he returns to his shed, falling asleep feeling lonely and unwanted.


The next morning, Toby is woken by his excited crew, who has just received some very good news; an important letter from the stout gentleman.


  • Another Story for Another Time: The UK version of the episode ends with Toby supposedly saved by the contents of the letter from the Stout Gentleman, which the narrator won't spoil until the following episode. The US narration omits this line.
  • Berserk Button: Toby was offended when The Fat Controller's granddaughter, Bridgette, called him "electric".
  • Bowdlerise: After being called electric by the Fat Controller's granddaughter, the UK narration states that Toby was very hurt. Both US narrations say that Toby was proud of being a steam train.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Stout Gentleman, who is really The Fat Controller.
  • Cool Old Guy: Toby.
  • Doomed Hometown: Toby's old line.
  • The Eeyore: Toby is left rather downbeat as his tramway gradually fails.
    Toby: Nobody wants me.
  • Scenery Porn: Toby's old railway line.
  • Synchronous Episodes: With the next episode "Thomas Breaks the Rules".


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