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.
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 Swindon Works at age fourteen and seems to have struck a friendship with W. A. Stanier during his time there. He came to Sodor in 1901 and joined A. W. Dry & Co. at Tidmouth. On their recommendation, he became engineer to the Tidmouth, Knapford and Elsbridge Light Railway in 1909, 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.
He married Jane, sister of Mr. Handel Brown and retired in 1954 in favour of his son Charles, whom the board had no hesitation in electing as his successor. He died at Wellsworth in 1956.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt was the Fat Controller from 1954 to 1984, when he retired in favour of his own son.
Charles Topham Hatt was educated at Abbey School and from there went to Crewe Works as an engineering pupil under Sir William Stanier. He was present during Henry's rebuilding. He was recommended for railway service overseas by 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.
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 parents and grandfather) became the 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-four in 2015, 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 visit to Sodor.
Prior to him becoming Controller of the North Western Railway, Sir Bertram 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. The Fat Controller later received his knighthood for his service to the railway industry. Sir Topham 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 is usually dressed in a black suit with grey trousers, a cream or yellow waistcoat, a black tie and a top hat. He is most often depicted as having thinning grey hair and blue eyes.
Due to political correctness, the Fat Controller is always narrated as "Sir Topham Hatt" in America.
The Fat Controller's television 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 called 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. Since he started 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".
The Fat Controller received his knighthood for his services to the railway industry and an award for "Services to Transport".
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".
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's ambidextrous (being able to write with both hands).
A photo of Sir Topham Hatt from the first season episode Trouble in the Shed was shown on a web-exclusive video of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
"I never like these big engines. Always going wrong. Send for another engine at once!"