Ffarquhar is the top station of Thomas' Branch Line. The engine and carriage sheds are located here, as well as a line leading to Anopha Quarry. No engines are allowed on that line, except Mavis and Toby. A small village is located here as well.
The oldest part of the village stands astride the Arlesburgh/Ulfstead road. In the troubled times of the Regency (1263-1404) a fort stood here as an outpost for Ulfstead Castle. Following the Island's acceptance of Henry IV* as Overlord in 1404, the fort fell into disuse, and little remains on the hillock on which it once stood. It is still called "The Fort".
St Finan's church, which mainly dates from the 13th Century, has a circular tower of a much earlier date and was massively built. It cannot be entered except by a ladder from inside the church, and seems to have been intended as a peel or tower of refuge.
With its importance as an outpost gone, Ffarquhar led a peacefully rural existence for the next few centuries. A scattered community of hill farmers grew barley and oats, but the emphasis was, and still is largely on cattle and sheep. The Sodor Black Poll is a hardy dual purpose breed producing good mutton and also quality fleeces which, formerly spun and woven at home, are now worked up into fine cloth at the Ulfstead Woollen Mills. In former days farmers only kept enough cows to supply their own and local needs, but with the coming of the railway, larger herds have become profitable, the milk being despatched twice daily to the dairy at Elsbridge. Mechanisation has been slow to take hold, but it is nevertheless here to stay. A visitor to Thomas Cousins began as the village Blacksmith; now under his son and grandson the firm are agricultural engineers to a wide district. It is their boast that they can supply and repair any implements needed for awkward or peculiar situations
In the 1850's, Josiah Felgood set up his first brewery, much of which still remains, the Felgood's Famous Ffarquhar Ales. It is now in the hands of his great grandson Jermyn. Visitors are welcomed, and though Felgood's have breweries elsewhere, any Real Ale expert can always tell a Ffarquhar Brew from that of anywhere else. The Hackenbeck water can be tried at the brewery or The Three Beetles at Hackenbeck, or better still at The Toby in Ffarquhar. The Toby was originally "The Toby Jug", but the landlord was so delighted when Toby came and put an officious police constable in his place, that he had Toby's picture painted on his signboard, instead of the jug. This young policeman perhaps hoped to gain promotion and a reputation for zeal by enforcing laws which were out of date and which had been quietly forgotten. He drove Ffarquhar innkeepers nearly crazy with obscure points in the Licensing Laws, and scored a success against Thomas, but when one Sunday morning he prowled outside the Church taking the numbers of the cars he saw there, he found too late that he had "booked" not only the Vicar, but John Croarie, the Chairman of the local Bench of Magistrates, as well as his own Sergeant. He was speedily transferred elsewhere amid general rejoicing.
It was John Croarie's father, Jabez, principal landowner in Ffarquhar who, feeling the pinch after World War I, floated the Ffarquhar Quarry Company to mine the stone under his land on Anopha Fell and in furtherance of this, persuaded the NWR to extend from Elsbridge to Ffarquhar. From 1921 to 1981, The village has increased in population from 350 to 2405. The Quarry Co. employs some 400 people wither underground or at the cutting and curing sheds.
Ffarquhar is railhead for the district. There had been talk of a further extension to Ulfstead, but there were difficulties, and following an argument with Sodor Roadways the idea was dropped.
The station has one passenger platform with a run-round loop. A milk dock, cattle dock, coal staithes, and an oil depot are provided, together with two good sheds (one for local traffic, and one for goods in transit via Sodor Roadways). The station forecourt is a regular calling place for Sodor Roadways coaches whose timetable and that of the Branch are coordinated to make connections with all trains possible.
Ten trains are provided each way daily. This is adequate for normal needs, but the timetable allows "paths" for extra trains if required at busy times.
In earlier books, such as Tank Engine Thomas Again and Toby the Tram Engine, Ffarquhar looked considerably different to the later version familiar to readers. Wilbert Awdry explained this away in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways in the form of a letter by Mr. Kevin Volley, former stationmaster at Ffarquhar, as being the result of errors by the artist. The artist was right about the brick built engine shed, and the way in which the quarry line curve away to the north as shown in order to give a longer run thus easing the gradient up to the workings. Two of Mr Hatt's vertical boiler engines worked the quarry line. They were both remarkable machines, and they were never photographed before they were scrapped. They were deficient in brake power, and heavy loads sometimes got out of hand. That was why Thomas was sent up on occasion, and it was on one of those trips that that interfering young policeman caught him.
According to Mr. Kevin Volley, the stonecutting and curing sheds used to be up at Anopha, but it was soon found more convenient have them at the station. They needed some cottages near the station too, so the quarry extension was re-aligned to run as it does today: between the cottages and the engine shed, crossing Ulfstead Road into The Lane.
The brick built carriage shed (seen in one of the illustrations of Tank Engine Thomas Again) was pulled down when the track alterations were made after Toby had arrived, for we then needed a two road shed for Henrietta, Annie and Clarabel. Daisy now shares the coach shed with Annie and Clarabel. Henrietta and Elsie are generally shedded at Knapford with Toby.
The passenger station, according to Mr. Kevin Volley, the pictures of Tank Engine Thomas Again are "wildly inaccurate". There has never been a two platform station at Ffarquhar, and the platform and station buildings were never on the south side as shown in these pictures. The platform and buildings shown in later books, such as Branch Line Engines, are fair but incomplete representations of the station.
In the television Series, Ffarquhar made appearances in the first, third, fifth, eighth seasons and the nineteenth season onwards, as well as the specials, Calling All Engines!, The Adventure Begins and Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure. It also made an appearance in the original opening of the Classic Series from seasons 1-7 and in the ending credits from Season 19 onwards.
The station returned in full CGI in The Adventure Begins, receiving a second platform and line, a fuel depot, coal hopper and a signal box. The small shunting yard was reduced to two sidings.
- Ffarquhar is Thomas' favorite station. This was revealed in the fifth season episode Baa!
- The Welsh-sounding name "Ffarquhar" is a made-up word derived from "Far-away quarry" by the Reverend W. Awdry and his brother George.
- In the television series, the station building has the same structure as Wellsworth.
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