The Great Discovery

The Great Discovery

The Great Discovery

R Healy

A Little Bit About The Great Discovery

The Great Discovery is the second Thomas and Friends Direct-To-DVD special produced by HIT Entertainment between the productions of Series 11 and 12.
This release marked the first and only storytelling work done for the series by Pierce Brosnan, and introduced a brand new character called Stanley.  It also marked the end of the full use of static sculpted faces for the engines - which were due to be used in conjunction during Series 12 with CGI elements which allow the engines to speak and change expression fluidly.  This was also to be the final special production to feature the live-action model animation medium prior to the full switchover in 2009.
The storyline revolves around the issue of acceptance, inclusion and exclusion as well as jealousy and it's consequences as Thomas struggles to deal with Stanley's arrival on the Island and the factors that come associated with his presence.  The Great Discovery was written by Sharon Miller, the Head Writer for the Thomas and Friends series.

Songs Of The Special

Racing to the Wharf
(Thomas and James are Racing - US/Canadian Title)

Jobs a Plenty
(There's a Job for Everyone - US/Canadian Title)

Where, Oh Where is Thomas?

Engine Roll Call
(Altered with "Henry, Toots and Edward puffs..." and "Stanley, He's the New One There...")

Thomas, You're the Leader! (Roll Call Rap)
Written & Produced by Peter Woodroffe & Charlie Grant
Performed by Chris Madin 

Special Info About The Great Discovery

Throughout the first year of release (2008 to 2009), The Great Discovery became the biggest selling DVD for HIT Entertainment ever.  This record has been surpassed since by Hero of the Rails and Misty Island Rescue as the Thomas phenomenon continues to grow.
The Great Discovery marked the first appearance of Great Waterton, the lost town, and was the only special to feature all three scales that the model unit worked with in the HIT Entertainment years (Thomases were built in three different sizes to match the scales for Jack and the Pack, the sized-up Narrow Gauge Engines and the standard size used to film the majority of the series).


Pierce Brosnan (UK / US)

Key Production Team

Christopher Skala
Simon Spencer
Sam Barlow
Robert Hartshorne
Ed Welch

Steve Asquith

Reviews & Blogs

In 2014, we ran a poll on The Great Discovery to determine what fans enjoyed about it.  Best characters, moments, songs and aspects of production are included and broken down in our poll results blog!  

Related Links

The Great Discovery on Amazon

Check out the many DVDs, Books and Toys related to the Great Discovery special!

The Great Discovery on

The Great Discovery on


Related Videos

The Great Discovery YouTube Playlist

Featuring trailers from the UK, USA, China and Japan, Official Music Video for Thomas You're The Leader, Remix Music Videos and CGI Music Video update!


Thomas and James race to the Wharf
Thomas and James race to win the Special Special!

Sodor Day is looming, a grand celebration of the Island of Sodor, and the Fat and Thin Controller's engines are working hard to make things extra special for the big day.

Thomas and James are racing to the Wharf, with the promise of a special special to whoever arrives first, and both engines are keen to clinch the prize.  However, when Thomas wins and discovers that he'll have to go and bring logs down from the hills with Duncan, he's less enthusiastic, knowing Duncan's mischeivous nature.

Thomas and Duncan
Thomas and Duncan at the Junction

The two engines tease one another throughout the course of their job, and Duncan gets cross.  He decides to get even and play a trick on Thomas, deliberately sending him down an old line which hasn't been used for years, convincing Thomas that it's a shortcut back to the Wharf.  This shortcut involves taking Rolling River Bridge, which doesn't hold up at all when Thomas tries to puff across.  The bridge collapses, and Thomas decides to reverse back the way he came and find another way back to the Wharf with his trucks.  But on the way, he finds another unfamiliar route, and is quite convinced that it could take him to the Wharf also.

The collpase of Rolling River Bridge
Rolling River Bridge collapses into the gorge below!

Thomas makes his Great Discovery
Thomas discovers Great Waterton!

To begin with, Thomas finds this alternative route to be nothing more than another overgrown and forgotten line.  But he's soon very surprised to find that it's hiding a very special secret - an abandonded town!

Regaining his bearings, Thomas heads out and tries to find a route home.  On the way, he passes the word to Madge the Snub-nosed Lorry, and soon, all of the engines are spreading the word of Thomas's discovery to the Fat Controller, who asks Harold the Helicopter to take him to see Thomas at once.

Jack's ready for work!
Jack gets ready to restore Great Waterton

Thomas recharts his previous movements and brings the Fat Controller to the abandonded town.  The Fat Controller is very pleased and excited - Thomas had discovered the town of Great Waterton, formerly the Island's main town, which once supplied the island with all of it's water through it's Water Works.  Over time, people moved away from it to live elsewhere, and Great Waterton was thought to be lost forever.  The Fat Controller decides it will make a wonderful restoration project to mark Sodor Day, and enlists the help of Miss Jenny and the Sodor Construction Crew for the rebuilding work.

Stanley arrives on the Island of Sodor
Welcome to Sodor, Stanley!

Work begins immediately, and as a special reward, the Fat Controller gives Thomas the job of overseeing all the work done at Great Waterton.  But to compensate for Thomas working there, the Fat Controller has to bring in another engine from the Mainland to help out with Thomas's work.  The engine is Stanley, a tank engine who is a little bigger, shinier and stronger than Thomas, who certainly makes a big impression on the other engines.

Thomas comes off the track
Edward and Rocky come to rescue Thomas

Thomas feels left out when he sees all the fun the other engines are having with Stanley, and becomes jealous when he visits them all together at Tidmouth Sheds, where Stanley is occupying Thomas's berth.  And so, the following day, Thomas decides to show everyone he is better than Stanley by working harder than ever, but ends up coming off the track when he goes too fast round a bend - meaning he'll have to go to the Works, whilst Stanley takes over his job at Great Waterton in his place.

Too many trucks for Stanley!
Thomas shunts too many trucks

And upon Thomas's return to Great Waterton, following his repairs, he is very disappointed to find that Stanley has done such a good job of being in charge that he'll be keeping the job after all - leaving poor Thomas feeling very disappointed and jealous.  Cross and determined to get his old job back, Thomas tries to make Stanley look silly by playing a trick on him.  When Thomas is put in charge of shunting trucks in the yard, he arranges too many into one train, but encourages Stanley to try pulling them anyway.

Stanley's trucks hit the tower!
Stanley loses the trucks and they crash into the tower, to the horror of the others!

Stanley sees Thomas feeling sad
Thomas feels sad, and Stanley feels sorry for him

As he begins to haul the train up the hill beyond the station, the weight of the trucks strains the couplings to the point where they break, and go hurtling back down the line into the large Water Tower, causing it to collapse and send brick dust everywhere.  The Fat Controller is very disappointed in Thomas, and so are the other engines.  With more work to be done following the accident, Great Waterton's completion may not be met by Sodor Day.  Poor Thomas puffs away to be on his own for a while, feeling terrible about playing the trick, and begins to think that none of the other engines want him there anymore.  Stanley sees how sad Thomas looks, and feels sorry for him.

Thomas Down The Mine...Again!
Wasn't so bad the last time Thomas went down a mine!

In order to make things right, Thomas decides to shunt all the trucks of debris into the proper sidings before work begins the next morning.  As he's doing so, one truck rolls onto the wrong line, and in the process of trying to retrieve it, Thomas ends up following it into an abandoned mine shaft and going on a roller-coaster adventure through the various twists and turns throughout the old tunnels and caverns.  But the fun soon ends when Thomas finds himself in the middle of a flooded part of the mine, being dragged through the water to an unknown destination...

The Engines Are Worried...
The engines have to look for Thomas!

The following day when the other engines arrive for work, Thomas is nowhere to be found, and everyone is suspecting the worst.  The Fat Controller declares a state of emergency and orders everyone to begin a hunt for Thomas to bring him home safe and sound.  The narrow gauge engines, Jack and the Pack, Mr Percival and all the engines join in to help the search, but no-one can find Thomas anywhere... and despite the accident the day before, they all know how important Thomas is to the restoration of Great Waterton, and that they can't have the Grand Opening without him.

Stanley Finds Thomas
Stanley hears Thomas's call, and comes to the rescue!

Worry particularly preys on the mind of Stanley, who begins to realise how Thomas has been feeling, and suspects that he may have run away because he thinks no-one likes him anymore.  Stanley decides to look for Thomas in the hidden hills, but his search proves difficult and somewhat unproductive.  Meanwhile, Thomas has been thrown clear of the mine shaft and out into the wilderness, landing close to an old track.  Stanley decides to head back to Great Waterton, but before he goes, he tries to call out for Thomas... who with one last puff, blows his whistle to alert him - and luckily for him, Stanley hears his call and comes to the rescue.

Thomas Brings Stanley Home
Stanley saved Thomas, and Thomas saved Stanley

The two engines reconcile their differences, and Stanley sets about hauling Thomas free of the mud and back onto the rails again.  But it's a hard haul, and Stanley ends up bursting a valve.  It's up to Thomas to get the two engines home again, and with dry coal from Stanley's firebox, he sets to work pushing Stanley back to Great Waterton to a chorus of cheers and whistles from engines and workmen alike.  The news spreads across Sodor with each engine passing the word to the other, making for a very happy and joyous day indeed.

Stanley, Thomas and Percy stand by the new tower
Stanley, Thomas and Percy stand in Great Waterton yard

Very soon, it comes clear that Great Waterton will be ready for Sodor Day after all.  And Thomas again realises the importance of his many wonderful friendships, and decides that he doesn't want to be more important than anyone else.  He asks The Fat Controller if Stanley may bring the Mayor to the Grand Opening in his place, and he graciously agrees.


The Grand Opening of Great Waterton is met with a huge celebration, with Jeremy the Jet flying overhead during the ceremony, and Thomas couldn't be happier.  He may not have been the leader, and he may not have been the most important engine of all, but, he knew that everyone was important - and that all the Engines of Sodor were the leaders of the track!

Welcome To Great Waterton!