Sir Topham Hatt, nicknamed "The Fat Controller" (previously "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.
Sir Charles Topham Hatt II (1914-1997)
Sir Charles Topham Hatt was the Fat Controller from 1954 to 1984, when he retired in favour of his own son. During his period of office, he began improvements to the harbour at Knapford, planned by his father, and reopened the Arlesburgh branch in 1965/6, being responsible for the construction of the Arlesdale Railway and for establishing the ballast consortium which uses it. He married Amanda Croarie in 1940 and they had two children, Stephen Topham, born 1941, and Bridget, born 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 will be seventy-two in 2013, though he has, as yet, given no hint of retiring), Charles Nicholas (1974-) and Emily Helen (1977-).
He played a part in arranging the construction of the Arlesdale Railway's new locomotive, Jock, in 1990, a project which had been dear to his father's heart. 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.
The Fat Controller in the television series
In the television series, Sir Bertram Topham Hatt, a combination of the three from the Railway Series, runs the North Western Railway. He once owned a Sentinel steam lorry named Elizabeth and has a twin brother, Sir Lowham Hatt. Prior to the introduction of Mr. Percival in the ninth season, Sir Topham was also the controller of the Skarloey Railway.
The Fat Controller is seen as a firm but fair character. 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.
The Fat Controller 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 known by his Sunday name of "Sir Topham Hatt" in America.
- The Fat Controller's television model from Lady Hatt's Birthday Party was used in the 2009 "Children in Need" charity single and was animated using stop-motion.
- In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Diesel 10 called him "Fat Hatt".
- According to Elizabeth, Sir Topham Hatt was a bad driver in his younger days. In the seventeenth season, 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.
- One of the Fat Controller's models is currently on display at Nitrogen Studios in Canada.
- Throughout the television series, Sir Topham Hatt is accompanied by two men in standard blue railway uniforms. They are presumed to be his bodyguards.
- The Fat Controller received his knighthood for his service to the railway industry.
- "I never like these big engines. Always going wrong. Send for another engine at once!"
- Sir Topham Hatt, "The Three Railway Engines"
- "This gentleman is a gentleman who knows how to speak to engines."
- Toby, "Toby the Tram Engine"