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Patrick Roberts

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Cats' Adventures & Travels

Public Transport — Rail, Trains, Trams etc


The Train Rider from Scarborough, North Yorkshire

The North Bay Railway is a miniature line running at Scarborough, a well-known holiday and seaside resort on Britain's North Yorkshire coast, and one terminus is by the town's Sea Life Centre, a marine sanctuary. Percy, a large and friendly black cat, liked to take the train, especially in summer, from near his home in Peasholm Park and ride the 3/4 of a mile (just over a kilometre) to the Centre.

His owners, Anne and Yale Michael, were astonished when in October 2009 they read in their local newspaper, the Scarborough News, of their 7-year-old cat's travels — especially when they found he'd been making his trips for about three years! He was so well known at the station that he'd been provided with his own piece of carpet for snoozing on. Phil Hart, a guard on the railway, said, 'Percy just hops on and off the trains and knows exactly what times they run. The passengers love him and make a fuss of him. He's a lovely cat.' His owners said he revelled in the attention!

Percy the train-riding cat with Sea Life Centre employee Jess Tile, Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Percy the train rider from Scarborough, North Yorkshire

When he reached the Sea Life Centre Percy liked to sit on a wall by the entrance and sneak in along with the visitors, according to manager Tamsin Mutton-McKnight. She said he was never any trouble — in fact, was better behaved than some visitors. He particularly liked to watch the penguins — although that scared them a bit and they didn't like him very much — and the fish in tanks. 'He just plonks himself down and watches them,' said Tamsin. 'He never tries to get in any of the tanks, even though some have open tops, and we never have any problems with him.'

Percy uses the North Bay Railway, a miniature steam line running at Scarborough, North Yorkshire Percy the cat visits the Scarborough Sea Life Centre Percy the cat stopping by the tanks at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary Percy the cat at the penguin enclosure Percy the cat watching the penguins at Scarborough Sea Life Centre Percy the train-riding cat from Scarborough, North Yorkshire

When he'd seen enough Percy just hopped on a train for the return journey and went back home. In winter he stayed at home more and 'spends most of his time asleep on my bed, preparing for the next season,' said Mrs Michael. 'He came from a farm and has always been something of a free spirit. He loves to get out and about and is always losing the tags with our phone number on. But he always makes it home in the end.'

Percy at the North Bay Railway After 2009 we saw nothing more about Percy for several years, apart from a short comment from his owner in 2013 (see video clip links below) from which it seemed this handsome black cat was still riding the train.

However, in August 2017 there came the sad news that Percy had passed away. The North Bay Railway Facebook page said:

'Anyone that knew Percy knew that he was a larger-than-life character who part adopted us and spent a huge part of his life at Scalby Mills station. He will be fondly remembered for his demanding milk, pinching chicken sandwiches and sneaking into boxes in the office, as well as hanging around the platform greeting passengers and giving a few dogs a run for their money!

'He was searched out by several film crews from America and even Japan for documentaries about animals, as they thought the story of him riding the train was priceless. He even had a book written in which he starred.**

'Percy will be sorely missed by staff and customers alike, especially Mura the ticket lady at Scalby who treated him as one of her own. His owner Yale is devastated.

'We shall be placing a plaque at Scalby Mills for him.'

[** Percy the Cat at North Bay Railway, fifth in a series of 'North Bay Tales' by Joe Coates.]

Memorial plaque for Percy, the train-travelling cat, at Scalby Mills station, North Bay Railway, Scarborough, Yorkshire

The plaque subsequently erected to remember Percy has the following wording:

In Loving Memory Of
The N.B.R. Adopted Station Cat
Very Much Missed By All His Friends
'A True Free Spirit'


Video clips

  • Animal Planet's Cats 101 strand featured a short film of Percy riding the train and visiting the Sea Life Centre in one of its broadcasts, probably in 2010.
  • There's also a very short (silent) clip from 2009 of Percy at the terminus near the Sea Life Centre: Percy - The Scarborough Station Cat. In the comments Percy's owner responded in about Feb/Mar 2013 to an enquiry about how he was doing:
    • '... he is OK, he still visits the Sealife Centre and hops on the train for a ride, he is
      a bit more grumpy these days!! '
    (NOTE Dec 2017: the clip is still available at YouTube, but for some reason certain older comments — including the above — no longer show.)

See also Cats travelling on Buses

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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Page created December 2009 (originally in Fragments section) with later revisions and additions