"Harry Potter and the rail aspects of the series"

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Calthrop

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I suppose the “History / Nostalgia” forum is the appropriate place for discussing “worlds that aren’t”...

The Rev. Awdry’s imaginary “Thomas / Sodor” world, seems to have cropped up a good deal on RailUKForums recently. That is a thing I’ve never been “into” – it didn’t appeal to me, even as a child – but as a (perhaps never properly grown-up) adult, I have quite enjoyed (not to addiction-point) the Harry Potter books. (Have basically not engaged with the films.) What I’ve liked about the books, has been mostly the crazy world-building, as opposed to the IMO rather lame story-line and character-interplay. Being a railway enthusiast, I’ve been particularly taken with the material about the Hogwarts Express; have done more thinking and speculating about it, than is likely appropriate for any supposedly sane person...

My “rationalising” of Hogwarts Express stuff, has come up with what follows : wonder whether anyone else has latched onto this theme, and developed similar or different theories (I gather that J.K. Rowling, though not a railfan as such, likes trains and rail travel – thus, likely, having been prompted to include a “train” element in her Wizarding World).

With things in the WW operating on a fundamentally different basis from those in the Muggle sphere: I see the Hogwarts Express as being a magical simulation of Muggle steam trains -- not actually using fossil fuel to heat water to produce steam to propel a locomotive. I’ve formed the theory that wizards centuries ago, used their powers to foresee the nineteenth-century invention and development by Muggles, of the steam railway, and thought re same, “this is a really neat and delightful mode of transport”; and thus created (well before the 19C) for their own purposes, their magical version of railways, because they thought it was fun. Not strictly necessary – they have, as the books tell us, other magical means of getting from place to place – but they just liked the whole idea, and adopted it as a means of getting pupils to and from the school at Hogwarts.

Other HP fans on Net forums have tended to the opinion that the Hogwarts Express uses – with magical concealment and collision-avoidance – existing Muggle rail tracks to travel between London, and Hogsmeade, railhead for Hogwarts – those “H” venues generally reckoned to be somewhere in the southern half of Scotland. I prefer the notion that (with Platform 9-and-Three-Quarters at King’s Cross, an anomalous prankish “flourish” on the part of the wizards), the Wizarding World’s rail system is totally separate and distinct from that of Muggledom – magically hidden from the mundane majority of us.

“Potter nerds” have posed the question of, how come the Hogwarts Express runs only between London and Hogsmeade – what about Hogwarts pupils from other parts of the British Isles? I theorise that in the books, we hear only about the King’s Cross HE, because that’s the train used by the characters most central to the story: Harry and Hermione live in Greater London; and the Weasleys dwell in the countryside somewhere west of London, which city is their natural railhead. Rowling refrains from going into detail on all aspects of the Wizarding World – if she did, every volume in the series would be thousands of pages long. I like to take it, that there are other wizarding rail routes from various parts of the British Isles, to Hogsmeade – not mentioned in the books, because of “the above”. I envisage, say (wizards being free, in their railway construction, from constraints imposed by intervening bodies of water): one route from the far south-west of England, then taking in Wales and north-west England, and proceeding thence to Hogsmeade; another starting in south-west Ireland, covering the whole of that island, then proceeding into south-west Scotland and thence to Hogsmeade; and another starting in the Shetland Islands (maybe even the Faroes, unless Faroese juvenile wizards are catered for by Durmstrang School of W & W), running via the Orkneys, then through the north of Scotland, finishing at Hogsmeade.

Would be interested in thoughts from similar loons – but am quite prepared for this post to be the first and only, of the thread...
 
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exile

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Hogwarts and Hogsmeade don't sound like Scottish names.....
 

alxndr

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I theorise that in the books, we hear only about the King’s Cross HE, because that’s the train used by the characters most central to the story: Harry and Hermione live in Greater London; and the Weasleys dwell in the countryside somewhere west of London, which city is their natural railhead.

One flaw here, the Weasleys are from the southwest, Devon I believe.

I also find it hard to believe that if a route was built from London to Scotland, with no concern for the environments it's going through, that it would take from 11am until darkness (sunset being around 8pm in Scotland in September). Although an entirely separate route would solve the mystery of running the Hogwart's Express without a multitude of enthusiasts noticing.
 

Calthrop

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Hogwarts and Hogsmeade don't sound like Scottish names.....

All that follows, likely susceptible to being described as what alternative-universe-devotees call "fanwanking" (i.e. anything can be explained away, if you try hard enough) -- anyhow: there's support in the books' texts for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade definitely being in Scotland -- in a remote area, but not hugely far north. Perhaps "Wizarding" Scotland and England are a good deal more like each other, than "Muggle" ditto?

One flaw here, the Weasleys are from the southwest, Devon I believe.

Per the books, the Weasleys live in or near the village of Ottery St. Catchpole -- the real Ottery villages are in east Devon, but I seem to pick up from the books' context, that Rowling borrowed the name but not the true location -- to me, the above O. St C. seems to be more like in Berkshire or Wiltshire.

I also find it hard to believe that if a route was built from London to Scotland, with no concern for the environments it's going through, that it would take from 11am until darkness (sunset being around 8pm in Scotland in September). Although an entirely separate route would solve the mystery of running the Hogwart's Express without a multitude of enthusiasts noticing.

I'm happy to figure that in the Wizarding World, time is flexible, and transport not subject to our rules of "x miles per hour = ...". As said above, when it's fantasy, no-matter-what can be explained away (tried to do a "smiley" icon, but the icons don't seem to want to work).
 
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