Crovan's Gate is a town near a narrow gap in the hills that is the only practicable route into the centre of Sodor from the east. The town's station is the terminus of the Skarloey Railway and the location of the Works, where the North Western Railway engines go to be repaired. The town's motto is "Ave amicos cave hostes", which, translated, means "Welcome, friends; beware, enemies".
The town is so named because of the narrow pass (Once much narrower than at present, since road and railway builders have enlarged it). This pass has for centuries been the only practicable route from the east into the interior. King Godred Crovan with 300 men held some 4000 Normans at bay here for a day till reinforcements under Jarl Sigmund and Thorkell could arrive and occupy the surrounding heights. Then feigning retreat, Crovan lured the Normans through the gap which Sigmund then closed. The Normans were thus pinned down in a narrow space where they had no room to use their superior horsemanship except in trylng to escape from what had become a virtual massacre.
Apart from its military importance, Crovan’s Gate has been an agricultural market town untll in the 18th Century the Crovan’s Gate Mining Company made it the headquarters for their operations at Ward Fell and in the Skarloey Valley. By 1865, the terminus, sheds and yards for the Skarloey Railway were built here as well as a single platform station.
Nowadays, Skarloey Railway trains use a bay with a run-round loop on the north face of the NWR’s eastbound platform. At the platform end the line forks - left to sheds and workshops, right to the Main Line. Mr. Roger Sam lives here in a cottage owned by the Railway; the original Manager's House of 1865 having been demolished during "the Lean Years".
In 1915 the NWR established repair shops here. Since 1925 these shops have been expanded as required till, with the decline of steam on the Mainland, the Works are now equipped with machinery and craftsmen able to tackle any type of steam locomotive overhaul or rebuilding that may be needed. Sir Topham Hatt has been looking into the possibility of manufacturing parts for engines on heritage railways. The Works Diesel later came from here to help James.
In the Railway Series, Crovan's Gate station and works appeared in Four Little Engines, The Eight Famous Engines, The Little Old Engine, Gallant Old Engine, Mountain Engines, Very Old Engines, Duke the Lost Engine, Really Useful Engines, Great Little Engines, Henry and the Express and New Little Engine.
In the Television Series
The Works were located at several places around the Island other than Crovan's Gate. Since Hero of the Rails, the Sodor Steamworks replaced it entirely and is located back at Crovan's Gate meaning the area has appeared quite regularly because of the frequent use of the Steamworks.
Crovan's Gate appeared as a three part station with four standard gauge platforms and two narrow gauge ones. The station only appeared in the fourth, eighteenth and twentieth seasons as well as in stock footage during the seventh season. It was also used to represent one of the stations on the Mid Sodor Railway in the fourth season episode, You Can't Win and a Mainland station in the eighteenth season episode, Last Train for Christmas.
- When the station returned in CGI in the eighteenth season, twenty years after the model version in the fourth season, there were several additions and modifications:
- Some sheds, similar to the Skarloey Railway engine sheds, appeared right behind the station.
- All the platforms were noticeably longer.
- The narrow gauge platforms were raised up considerably.
- The platforms between the standard gauge tracks became conjoined.
- A footbridge spanning the narrow gauge tracks and a third standard gauge track in the middle station were added.
- The canopy of the main standard gauge station was removed. The middle station footbridge was redesigned similar to the canopy's design and was much longer.
- The lamp posts, benches and the white wooden shelter all changed design.
- The water tower for the narrow gauge engines, some signal boxes, the coaling areas, some walls and some workmen's sheds disappeared.
- The road bridge that only crossed the three main lines, now goes across the 6 standard gauge lines and the three narrow gauge lines.
- All the standard gauge tracks and the narrow gauge lines (road bridge side only), were straight instead of curving.
- According to the 1958 Railway Series Island of Sodor Reference map, "Engines are made and repaired at Crovan's Gate", but there are no engines documented as having been built there for the North Western Railway.