I met the Fat Controller Russell again in Chandler’s Ford.
Russell and his father Chris charmed the people who rode their steam train at the Fryern Funtasia last Monday.
I spent most of my afternoon at the steam train, observing people and watching the steam train puff out its smoke and steam as it chugged along its 100-foot-long track.
There was something unique about the steam train. The people who ran it from Winchester Model and Engineering Society were relaxed and happy. They told me quite a bit about the engine. They sat by the track drinking tea, and watching the steam train moving forward and backward 100 times.
Nigel Woodham again was composed driving the steam train.
I was quite moved by what I saw by the steam train. Father-and-son Chris and Russell formed a brilliant team. They checked the tickets, cracked some jokes, teased a few children, blew the whistles, and waved enthusiastically.
Enjoying the same hobby with your dad and spending time together – I think it defines happiness.
Thinking along the line of Chandler’s Ford history, someone recently knocked on my door and told me there could be a link between Thomas the Tank Engine and Chandler’s Ford. Could Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, have got his inspiration of trains in Chandler’s Ford while watching the steam train chugging along?
“The church, built in Hursley Road on land given by Tankerville Chamberlayne of Cranbury Park, replaced an earlier corrugated iron church in Southampton Road. The dedication, on 4 October 1904, was by the Bishop of Winchester, and the first service was conducted by the Vicar of Ampfield, the Reverend Vere Awdry (the father of the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine).”
From Hantsphere, on St Boniface Church, Chandlers Ford, 1904
Reverend W Awdry was born at Ampfield vicarage near Romsey in 1911. His father was the Reverend Vere Awdry, the Anglican vicar of Ampfield.
Chandler’s Ford: Inspiration for Thomas the Tank Engine?
The person who discussed the possible link of Chandler’s Ford with Thomas the Tank Engine happens to be a politician, who told me that the young Awdry must have watched and smelt the train from Chandler’s Ford, as his father visited and preached at St. Boniface Church.
When I told him I write about Chandler’s Ford, the councillor canvassing for the local election on 22nd May 2014 swiftly changed social topics about verge parking, dog poo, and new toilet which should have been built at the Fryern Arcade. Instead, he had an animated discussion of Thomas the Tank Engine with me for 20 minutes. And I quite enjoyed that.
Where did Reverend W Awdry get his inspiration from for Thomas the Tank Engine?
Could it have been Chandler’s Ford of Eastleigh?
If it were Chandler’s Ford, could anyone prove it?
If the link could be proved, Chandler’s Ford could possibly be promoted as the ‘birthplace’ of Thomas the Tank Engine (instead of the capital of bank robberies). What do you think?
Steam trains are magical, their smell, dirt, smoke, the clickety-clack of the wheels, and the swaying of the carriages.
This beautiful poem and the video clip wrap up the magical steam train beautifully. I hope you enjoy it.