Sir Topham Hatt I (January 9, 1880-September 16, 1956) was the first controller of the North Western Railway. He was known as the "Fat Controller", and held this position from the railway's opening in 1915 until 1954. He is one of the most important figures in the history of Sodor's railways.
Early Life Edit
Topham Hatt was born on January 9, 1880 in Swindon, England. His parents were Bertram Hatt (1849-1930) and Beatrice George (1850-1923). Bertram was a manager at Swindon works, which likely sparked Topham's railway interest. Though he was generally well behaved, he struggled at school as he was very disorganized. At the age of 14 (1894), he became an apprentice to his father at Swindon Works. He gained a friendly image with the workers and his father was very pleased with his progress. It was here where he learned all about the ways of the railway. Whilst there, he befriended W.A. Stanier, who would eventually become the Cheif Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland, and Scotish Railway (LMS). During this time, he became quite obese, which would lead to the nickname "The Fat Controller" in the future.
Life on Sodor Edit
Hatt always had an interest in Sodor, and went in 1901. He worked for A.W. Dry & Co., and then went on to become a steam engine driver in 1904. Gradually, he rose through the ranks, and became very well known. In 1909 he became a member of a comittee who's goal was to start a large railway network on Sodor. In 1913, he married Lady Jane Brown (1878-1960). In 1914, Hatt was appointed as the manager of the future North Western Railway. It was also in this year when he and Jane had their first child, Charles Topham Hatt. Topham joined the Sodor and Mainland, Tidmouth, Knapford, and Elsbridge Light, and the Wellsworth and Suddery Railways together to create the NWR. The first engine purchased by him was Thomas, shortly followed by Edward. The railway was completed in November 1915. Though he was often called "Sir" by engines and staff before, he was officially knighted by King George V in 1916.
Controller of the NWR Edit
In 1918, Topham and Jane had another child called Elizabeth. Hatt's reign on the railway was very productive. In the first 10 years, he managed to massively increase the industry of Sodor. In 1925, he made a deal with the LMS to allow trains to terminate at Barrow-in-Furness in England, to be taken by an English engine to London.
In 1924, he recieved attention all over Britain after he shut up Henry in the tunnel. It may have been negative responses that persuaded him to let Henry out again. He was also criticized for not helping the passengers push or pull Henry out, claiming it was his doctor who had ordered him not to. This scandal led the Fat Controller to pick up his act.
During the Great Depression, Hatt was forced to sell some engines. However, despite that, he still managed to keep the railway running very smoothly. The same could be said for World War II. Sodor was generally not a target for Germans, and the railway thrived. At this time he had five engines, Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon, and James. In 1945, he opened the Ffarquar branch line, which brought the railway to the rural towns and villages. He was also featured in the Thin Clergyman's first book The Three Railway Engines.
1949 proved to be a difficult year. Henry, James, and Gordon went on strike, disrupting the passenger schedules. Hatt bought a new engine called Percy, and shut the three big engines in the shed as punishment. After they were let out, Henry's problems began to worsen, and Hatt had to buy Welsh Coal from the mainland. Despite it working wonders, it was expensive and Hatt was determined to keep his costs down. However, Henry had an accident in January of 1950, so Hatt decided to send him to Crewe for a rebuild. Hatt had been friends with W.A. Stanier, and Stanier re-designed Henry into a Black 5.
In 1951, Hatt was taking his grandchildren on Holiday in Arlesdale when they came across the old Arlesdale Tramway which was struggling. Here, they met Toby the tram engine, and after Thomas had an incident with police, Hatt bought Toby to work on the Ffarquar branch. The following year, Queen Elizabeth II came to Sodor shortly after her coronation, and she met with Sir Topham Hatt and all the engines.
Retirement from NWR Edit
Sir Topham Hatt had been diagnosed with Diabetes back in 1950. In 1954, it began to worsen to the point where he was having difficulty walking. He retired at the age of 74, and his son, Charles, took over. Despite his illness, he still visited the engines quite frequently. As he could not drive very far, he would use trains for transport. He also went on holidays on the mainland quite frequently, often visiting the Thin Clergyman.
Hatt managed to keep his diabetes under control until 1956. He could barely leave his house in Wellsworth because of severe lack of energy. He lost a massive amount of weight, going from about 400 lbs to less than 200. On August 28, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. Though he slightly recovered, he was bedridden and very unwell. Two weeks later, he relapsed and died on September 16, 1956 at the age of 76, shortly after the engines had returned from London. He was survived by his wife and children. Sir Topham Hatt I's death was mourned throughout the island, and a ceremony was held at Tidmouth Station. All the NWR engines attended.
Engines Acquired During Tenure Edit
- 98462 and 87546 (temporarily)
- The Red Tender Engine (temporarily)
Sir Topham Hatt I hadn't appeared in any episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Wooden Railway Adventures.