ERS 203 - James the Mixed Traffic Engine

ERS 203 - James the Mixed Traffic Engine - Ian


I've always liked the 'friendly' rivalry between James and Henry, and had wanted to do a story about it for a long time. The idea of one 'pulling a sickie' to drop the other in it seemed quite reasonable, and even though it has been done in the series before - such as in 'Trucks!' with Sir Handel and Peter Sam - I felt it was presented in a new light here. Indeed, James is ultimately wrong in his suspicions of Henry, for the bigger engine is indeed struggling to get steam, resulting in James having to take the Flying Kipper instead of his hoped for Express. Unwittingly, this chapter started a long running arc for Henry, as he is seen having steaming issues in various stories over the subsequent volumes for quite some time to come...

Based on a true story from the Welsh /English border route known as the Marches line, where a failed freight train was rescued by a diesel which - ultimately - turned out to be far too small to haul the stricken train. A third engine was subsequently called for, leading to disruption for most of the day and night. The same happens here as a proud James - determined to make amends for his bad behaviour of the previous day - attempts to rescue Wakefield and ultimately fails in the attempt. Henry is sent to assist, and it's the green engine who takes all the glory.

Unusually, this story was partially inspired by the return of Bill and Ben to the TV series. So taken was I with their returning episodes that the idea to include them here - to cause further upset and annoyance to James - quickly came to me. BoCo is drafted in to cover Wakefield's trains, and James finds himself deputising on the Wellsworth line. He soon finds he enjoys it, although the constant teasing of the twins drives him to distraction, leading to a careless accident in the yard.

James finally gets a chapter where he doesn't come across as the loser, instead finally turning the tables on poor old Henry! Based on the very famous television commercial that saw a Black 5 covered in a rather hideous wallpaper back in the 1970s (Here is the link if you've never seen it - ), Henry finds himself suffering the same humiliation when James tricks him into expecting a special filming job for a TV commercial. The two engines agree to forgive one another, but with James and Henry it'll never be quite so plain sailing!