— Sir Topham Hatt using the "C&D" phrase, when he scolds his engines from which they have done something wrong
Sir Topham Hatt, the "Fat Controller"
Born: 1880 (Sir Topham Hatt I) 1914 (Sir Charles Topham Hatt) 1941 (Sir Stephen Topham Hatt)
Died: 1956 (Sir Topham Hatt I) 1997 (Sir Charles Topham Hatt)
Sir Topham Hatt, nicknamed "The Fat Controller" (previously known as "The Fat Director"), is the manager of the North Western Railway and is a father figure to his engines.
The Fat Controllers
So far, there have been three controllers in charge of the North Western Railway.
Sir Topham Hatt I (1880-1956)
Topham Hatt was apprenticed at the Great Western Railway's Swindon Works in 1894 at age fourteen. During his time there, he seems to have struck up a friendship with William A. Stanier, a fellow apprentice. The story current at Crovan's Gate Works is that on at least one occasion, perhaps more, the future Sir Topham was able to help the future Sir William to escape the consequences of what might have been a serious scrape. Due to his training at Swindon, he always admired things Great Western.
He came to Sodor in 1901 and joined A. W. Dry & Co., a firm of drainage engineers, at Tidmouth. On their recommendation, he became engineer to the Tidmouth, Knapford and Elsbridge Light Railway in 1910, the Tidmouth, Wellsworth & Suddery in 1912 and the North Western Railway upon its formation in 1914. On the North Western Railway, he rose to be General Manager in 1923, Managing Director in 1936 and upon Nationalisation in 1948, he was created a baronet on his appointment as Chairman of the Regional Executive.
For A.W. Dry & Co., he built a series of four vertical boiler engines known as "Coffee Pots" between 1905 and 1908, which were used by the TK&ER. After an Autumn gale in 1908, he directed unemployed miners in cutting a tunnel through the ridge south of Tidmouth. In 1915, for the NWR, he designed a double tracked Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge of 120ft span to cross the Walney Channel. Sometime after this, he was apointed a director of the Company.
When the Railway was suffering from a locomotive crisis in the early 1920's, he was responsible for aquiring new engines. During this time, he made one of his rare bad bargains when he purchased Henry instead of the Robinson Atlantic wanted. He remembered the mistake with sorrow for the rest of his days, and was so angry at having been “done” that he would never admit who it was who had swindled him. No-one was better pleased than Topham Hatt when the Killdane accident occurred in 1935. Using his connections with William Stanier, now CME of the LMS, he was able to have Henry completely rebuilt at Crewe Works.
In 1953 when The Queen visited Sodor in Coronation year he had the honour of welcoming her to Tidmouth having been previously presented to Her Majesty by Viscount Harwick, the Governor, who was also his son-in-law.
He retired in 1954 in favour of his son Charles, whom the Board had no hesitation in electing as his successor. It is no exaggeration to say that the present prosperity of the Railway is almost entirely due to his initiative and resource.
He married Jane, sister of Mr. Handel Brown in 1910 and they had two children, Barbara Jane (born 1911), who married Henry Regaby in 1938, and Charles Topham. He died at Wellsworth in 1956.
In The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, he was nicknamed "The Fat Director" before his nickname changed to "The Fat Controller" in James the Red Engine.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt II (1914-1997)
Sir Charles Topham Hatt was the second Fat Controller from 1954 to 1984, when he retired in favour of his own son.
Charles Topham Hatt was educated at Abbey School, Cronk and from there went to Crewe Works as an engineering pupil under Mr. William Stanier in 1932. He was present during Henry's rebuilding in 1935. In 1937, he was recommended for railway service overseas by Mr. Stanier, but he returned in 1939 to enlist in the Royal Engineers, serving with them throughout the Second World War. He was demobilised in 1945 with the rank of Colonel.
He spent a further period oversea, before returning to Sodor in 1952 to become Chief Mechanical Engineer at Crovan's GateWorks and general assistant to his ageing father. Following his father's retirement in 1954, the Board had no hesitation in electing him as Controller.
During his period of office, he began improvements to the harbour at Knapford, planned by his father and reopened the Arlesburghbranch in 1965/6, being responsible for the construction of the Arlesdale Railway and for establishing the ballast consortium which uses it.
His cousin, Sir Handel Lloyd Brown II, was born in 1924. He married Amanda Croarie in 1940 and they had two children, Stephen Topham, born in 1941 and Bridget, born in 1943. Charles inherited his father's baronetcy in 1956.
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt III (1941-)
Sir Stephen Topham Hatt (who first appeared in Toby the Tram Engine while on a family holiday in East Anglia with his sister and grandparents) became the third Fat Controller in 1984, succeeding to his father's baronetcy in 1997. In 1970, he married Helen Margaret, a distant cousin and granddaughter of the Reverend Nicholas Dreswick, the much-respected historian of Sodor. They had three children: Richard Topham, born in 1972 and no doubt destined to be Sir Topham Hatt IV (his father was seventy-six in 2017, though he has, as yet, given no hint of retiring), Charles Nicholas (1974-) and Emily Helen (1977-).
With great skill, he masterminded the arrangements for the royal visit in 1995, when he welcomed the Prince of Wales on his first visit to Sodor.
In his youth, he was a Boy Scout. Prior to him becoming Controller of the North Western Railway, Sir Topham Hatt owned a Sentinel steam lorry named Elizabeth, who notes that he was not the best driver. When he was a young man, Edward always took him aboard an old coach on his birthday. He also built the Coffee Pots some time prior to Thomas arriving on Sodor. Sir Topham later received his knighthood for his services to the railway industry. He was also the controller of the Skarloey Railway, until Mr. Percival was hired to help him manage the ever-increasing size of his railway industry. Prior to Blue Mountain Mystery, he bought a track inspection car named Winston, who is often used as a private transportation vehicle on the railway.
Sir Topham Hatt is firm but fair. He can be strict, but also shows a fatherly side to the engines. He is quite a strong character and will remind the engines that he is in charge when they start to rebel against his authority. He does not stand bullying and even though he is usually serious, he does enjoy a good laugh. Despite his kindness and fairness, however, there are times where he berates the engines for situations beyond their control.
Sir Topham Hatt is a short, stout gentleman. He usually wears morning dress, consisting of a black tailcoat with grey trousers, a cream, yellow or grey waistcoat, a black tie and a black top hat. He is most often depicted as having thinning grey hair and blue eyes.
Due to political correctness, the Fat Controller is always referred to by his real name, "Sir Topham Hatt" in the US.
Even so, in certain US episodes, the engines' mouths are not reanimated properly, as their mouths say "The Fat Controller" when they verbally say "Sir Topham Hatt".
Also, several times in the UK script, Sir Topham Hatt is addressed by his nickname in public, when it would be inappropriate. That was fixed in Blue Mountain Mystery, when Victor called the Fat Controller by his real name "Sir Topham Hatt".
The Fat Controller's television series model from Lady Hatt's Birthday Party appeared in the 2009 "Children in Need" charity single and was animated using stop-motion.
In an earlier draft of Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Diesel 10 calls him "Fat Hatt", a combination of his nickname and his real name.
According to Elizabeth, Sir Topham Hatt was a bad driver in his younger days. When he is seen driving Winston, it seems his skills have not improved.
The Fat Controller's office set was part of an exhibit at the Hangaram Museum in Korea in 2010.
Large scale and miniature models of Sir Topham Hatt are currently in the safe hands of the Top Props preservation group, after they were sold by The Prop Gallery. A large scale walking model of Sir Topham Hatt was also sold by The Prop Gallery.
Throughout the television series, Sir Topham Hatt is accompanied by two men in standard blue railway uniforms. They are presumed to be his assistants. In Percy and the Calliope, the narrator refers to them as "helpers".
In the book, Thomas-saurus Rex, it states that Sir Topham Hatt used to be called "Little Topham Hatt" in his youth. His grandfather also appears in the book.
Sir Topham Hatt's television series model had eyebrows inconsistently. Between the sixth and eleventh seasons, the model mainly did not have them at all.
The alternative rock band Catherine Wheel released a song named after the Fat Controller called "Here Comes The Fat Controller" on their 1997 album Adam and Eve.
From the thirteen season to the fifteen season, Sir Topham Hatt was referred to as "Bertram" (not to be confused with the engine).
In most episodes and specials, Sir Topham Hatt is seen writing with his right hand. But in No Help At All, he is seen writing left-handed. This could likely be a mistake, but may also mean he is ambidextrous (being able to write with both hands).