Thomas the Tank Engine, Fascist


With his job given to him by the government, along with a hereditary title (a baronet, explaining why he is a Sir).


Ah, but it’s the right kind of government: one that allows him to operate without any of those pesky nanny-state safety regulations that drove Dagny to the paradise of Galt’s Gulch (where everyone is an aristocrat by dint of being invited).


It’s not really fascist. I’ve always thought of it as a utopia in the eyes of the Church of England. It’s just Protestantism gone mad. Awdry was a reverend, after all.


All the proof we need is on the Wikipedia page.



In universe it was the Clement Attlee Labour government. I can only think that they stuffed his mouth with gold, like Nye Bevan did with the NHS.

It doesn’t explain why Topham Hatt settled for a Baronet though. I would have thought he would have held out for a peerage, although Labour may have objected to it because of his family ties to the Liberal party.


Steam enthusiasts, the worst kind.
engage rant mode
Steam engines are engineering abortions. While they were operating, there was constant warfare between the Civil Engineers (who had to maintain the track) and the Locomotive Superintendents (who tried to get ever more track-wrecking engines into service.) The problem is that steam engines are fundamentally crude.
They are also appallingly inefficient. It could take seven to nine pounds of coal to produce 1HP for one hour, while any half decent Diesel engine requires little more than half a pound. That’s one reason Victorian England was blanketed in smoke - the other was coal fires that were only 10-20% efficient. The sheer amount of coal required was of course extremely profitable to mine owners, who were represented in Parliament.
Steam engines, which were technically obsolete on main lines by 1933, and by 1900 on urban lines, were kept going in the UK mainly because of this profligate use of coal. It was a landowner pork barrel.
Steam enthusiasts are inherently supporters of the rentier class for the reason explained above.
So yes, Thomas the Tank Engine is there to support the class that were supportive of fascism in the 1930s.
disengage rant mode.


I thought the th or dh sound was generally dying out in the West. It has disappeared from German, French, and Russian to my knowledge, and the Romans never got on with it. When a Cockney says that there are firty free fings to fink about, that’s actually linguistically progressive. Dh has tended to turn into d, th into t or f.


Coincidentally, I’m just going through the Dark Tower novels, since everyone seems to talk about it (currently in book 4), and I found it pretty funny that they contain a thinly veiled evil Thomas the Tank Engine.


I wasn’t being particularly serious about it. I am very supportive of having an evolving language.

Besides, it would be rather hypocritical of me to be serious about it. I had ear infections while I was learning to speak as a child which resulted in me being unable to hear any difference between th, ph and f sounds.


In the first two books, Sir Topham Hatt is a Director. In the 3rd book The Sodor & Mainland Railway is nationalized and Sir Topham Hatt’s title changed to Controller.


Interesting that this and the quote next to it, which mentions the Dark Tower. In which the th digraph is missing, IIRC.


I don’t see how losing a sound in the language is either progressive or regressive. It’s just change. Personally, they’ll have to pry my alveolar non-sibilant fricatives (voiced and voiceless) from my cold, dead mouth.

At least it’s going strong in Icelandic, which still has the thorn (Þ) and eth (ð) for the voiceless and voiced sounds respectively.


Not really.
It’s odd, but it is primitive languages that have many sounds and a lot of grammar. Using my current interest as an example, Russian currently has 6 cases but old Slavonic may have had as many as 13. Thus the locative and prepositional have merged into one case, the numeric and the genitive have merged, and so on. If I knew more about Indo-European, Sanskrit and early Greek I’m sure I would see the same pattern. The Romance languages have all simplified original Latin, and the most successful languages - French, Spanish and Portuguese - have simplified a lot.
As languages develop they tend not only to lose grammar but also sounds. It’s partly because more successful languages are spoken by more people and so move to more of a common denominator. Languages which are, linguistically, failures like Icelandic, Welsh and Irish tend to be more fossilised. (This isn’t about aesthetics or literature, just about such facts as that the second language of Wales is now Polish, not Welsh.)
We have of course seen exactly the same thing with numbers, where complex representations like Roman numerals eventually gave way to the decimal system and the place system, but most calculations nowadays are done with numbers to base 2.


There’s a verse I vague recall called, I think, “I dream of steam publishing” in which the author refers to how some publishers sound like train noises:

“Lippincott, Lippincott, Lippincott they’d clink,
Lippincott, Lippincott, Doubleday and Company, Inc…[]…
While down the line a shunted goods train clanks
Gollancz, Gollancz, Gollancz, Gollancz, Gollancz”

This has unfortunately stuck with me for over 40 years and I still can’t see “Gollancz” without thinking of tank engines.


“Blaine is a pain, and that’s the truth.”

FYI, don’t be pissed once you finally get to the end of the Tower; there was no other way it could end and shady as he was, Walter did give Roland an honest warning in the first book.


Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you…


Yeah so he is allowed to build shops right on the railway line, so that trains can crash into them and cause hilarious hijinks.


taken together as one incredibly long novel, that stands as the finest piece of writing in king’s bookshelf. by the time i got to “song of susannah” i realized i had to hear the book read aloud and then proceeded to read everything up to that book onto to 90 minute cassette tapes as a 40th birthday present for my best friend. 58 tapes. i’m going to reread it all next year sometime.


It is his magnum opus, despite the fact that many fans hate the ending.



It’s a goddamn kids show, fercryinoutloud.

Edit - this next takes it above the Onion level.

“(More information on the class and gender hierarchy of Thomas the Tank Engine can be found in “A Very Useful Engine: The Politics of Thomas and Friends,” a 2009 article by Shauna Wilton, a professor at the University of Alberta.)”

Breitbart would kill to have someone who could write parodies containing sentences like that.