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Skarloey is a scribe's error, it should be Scacaloey (Scaca=Wooded hillside, Loey=Lake), itself a corruption of Skogarloey=the wooded lake. The name with its Scandinavian prefix and Celtic suffix is a philological curiosity which, though unusual, is found elsewhere in Sodor. The current theory is that while Norse settlers often accepted and adopted some Celtic place names, they also adapted others to suit themselves when the Celtic name was hard for a Nordic tounge to pronounce. What the original Celtic prefix was is unknown.
Here the terminal station of the Skarloey Railway stands high above the place it serves. The view of the lake and its village from the station platform is breathtaking no matter how often one sees it.
The lake lies in a hollow completely surrounded by woods. It would seem that the hollow's origin was volcanic and the existence of warm springs supports that view. The lake is fed from the central massif and drains through a concealed cleft into the Hawin Doorey. The topography and surroundings of the place are such that in former days a stranger approaching from any direction would have great difficulty in finding it. It was accidentally re-discovered by the railway surveyors and the Crovan's Gate Mining Company seized on its potential as a spa and beauty spot, renaming their railway accordingly. But remoteness and the difficulty of access from the station they had built, dashed the hopes of Shamus Tebroc and his associates and it was not until 1953, following the discovery of The Book of Sir Harald at Ulfstead Castle (now in the Island Records Office), that Skarloey was realised to be a place of historical importance, as "the Secret Sanctuary" to which the document makes such necessarily guarded reference.
Its existence had been kept secret for centuries. Here during the Resistance (1263-1404), when Sudrians under successive Regents fought off the claims of the Scots and other "occupying powers", the Regents made their headquarters; women and children gathered here for safety while their men-folk took to the hills in guerilla warfare. The wounded were brought here to be tended and the warm springs were found to have curative properties. There is evidence also that the place was put to similar use during the Cromwellian occupation (1645-1660) and again, following the uprisings of 1715 and 1745, Jacobites on the run were sheltered here until they could escape to safety. But in the century that followed, the secret of its location had died with those who held it, until chance disclosed it once more.
The years since 1953 have brought changes to Skarloey. Its sheltered situation and mineral springs have made it something of a spa and a growing number of people elect to spend the winter here. The population includes residents as well as those catering for anglers and other visitors. There are three good hotels. The Char, on the waterfront, holds the fishing rights and is naturally favoured by fishermen. It has its own clientele who book in regularly year after year. For visitors with other interests either The Sanctuary or The Sir Harald is recommended, both of which have been named in allusion to the use of the locality in former times. In the grounds of the latter can be seen the foundations of a 13th Century building which it is claimed that Sir Harald used.
Skarloey is now the line's terminal station. From Easter to Michaelmas most trains traverse the Loop using the north west face of the platform. Local passenger and goods trains, however, by-pass the Loop running directly to Skarloey station along the old main line. They use the east face of the platform. Beyond the platform are a run round loop, sidings, locomotive and carriage sheds and a depot for goods in transit which is picked up here for delivery by Sodor Roadways vans. Sodor Roadways Coaches meet all principal trains, thus providing connections to and from the Culdee Fell Railway, Peel Godred and Harwick.
Shamus Tebroc built a rope worked self-acting incline for his building materials and left it for the conveyance of luggage, coal and other commodities. This is still in use, though now time-expired and somewhat unreliable. Expensive repairs are needed. Now that the Sodor Island Council has regraded the road down to the village, Sodor Roadways may be able to provide a cheaper and better service. The matter is now under discussion.
A rather recent development at Skarloey is a funicular railway from the station to the village for the convenience of residents and visitors. It was opened in September 1985 and is a venture undertaken and financed jointly by the Railway Company and the hotel keepers. The Railway undertook its construction and holds 51% of the shares. The Hotel Proprietors hold the remaining 49%.
In the television series, the station consists of two platforms, each with a building and is connected to the road. There is a small yard and a road bridge nearby and there does not appear to be a village here.
- Four Little Engines - Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady
- The Little Old Engine - Little Old Twins
- Great Little Engines - Patience is a Virtue
- Season 4 - Granpuff, Sleeping Beauty, Bulldog, You Can't Win, Four Little Engines, A Bad Day for Sir Handel, Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady, Trucks, Home at Last, Special Funnel, Passengers and Polish, and Gallant Old Engine
- Season 7 - Toby's Windmill (stock footage)
- Its Talyllyn Railway equivalent is Abergynolwyn.
- Skarloey was originally spelt "Scarloey". The Rev. W Awdry amended the spelling upon George Awdry's suggestion that Skarloey be a scribe's error.
- In the television series, it was used to represent one of the stations on the Mid Sodor Railway.