Toby and the Stout Gentleman, retitled Toby the Tram Engine in American releases, is the twenty-first episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Toby the Tram Engine.
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 since the amount of passengers and trucks they take 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 (who is actually Sir Topham Hatt), 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 steam tram engine. After accidentally offending Toby by thinking he is electric, the two children want a ride. The gentleman agrees and the whole family take a ride in Henrietta, who cannot be happier to have passengers again. Toby, on the other hand, is still fuming about being called electric.
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 of their holiday, 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 for the chance at a last ride on Toby's line and fill up Henrietta. Although the passengers treat the occasion like a celebration, Toby and his driver know it is anything but. Afterwards, the passengers wish Toby a sad goodbye and he returns to his shed, then falls 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.
- The Fat Controller
- Lady Hatt
- This is Toby's first appearance in the TV Series