Railway Series Book Reviews - The Rev W Awdry

The Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Series Books

Here, we'll be compiling and reviewing the first 26 books of the Railway Series written by the Reverend Awdry

The Three Railway Engines

Written by Awdry in 1943 to entertain his son, Christopher, who was suffering from measles at the time, this was the first book in what was to become The Railway Series.  The book tells the stories of kind Edward, pompous Gordon and foolish Henry.
Written By R Healy

The book opens with Edward being given the chance to go out of his shed again after some time, much to the outrage of the others in his shed.  Following trouble with a guard who’s late, Edward has a wonderful time running through the countryside, and earns the chance to do it again the following day.



The next story tells of Edward’s encounter with the resident shed braggart Gordon.  He promises a splendid sight when he rushes through with the Express, however, all that Gordon gets to pull that day is dirty trucks, and they prove too much for him as he becomes stranded on a hill, and has to be rescued by Edward.  However, Gordon forgets his manners and speeds off into the distance following Edward’s assistance.  Despite feeling unappreciated, Edward gets his reward when his Driver promises him a smart new coat of paint!



A third locomotive, Henry, deciding to stop in the middle of a tunnel to avoid the rain, much to the dislike of his passengers and the Fat Director.  They try pulling him out and pushing him out, but in the end, have to give up and leave him where he is to teach him a lesson.  He soon realises the error of his ways, and fears it’s too late to rectify them.



Henry is given a second chance following Gordon’s chance breakdown outside the opposite tunnel to where he is stood.  Edward is the only engine available in the yard to try and push the train, however, proves ineffective and there’s only one engine left to help – Henry.  The Fat Director gives him another chance and with Edward’s help, they help to bring the train home again.  That evening, Gordon is helped home by Edward and Henry and all three engines become friends in light of all that’s happened, and Henry learns by his mistakes.  He is given a new coat of paint following his troubles, and chooses to be painted blue to match his new friends.



Thomas The Tank Engine

Awdry's most famous and loveable character comes to light in his first book, written by Awdry to follow up The Three Railway Engines - proving such a success through the strong and engaging storylines and bold illustrations by Reginald Payne, that it enticed Edmund Ward to commission another.  Thomas the Tank Engine contains some of my favourite, and arguably best stories to be told in the Railway Series as a whole and showcase a great character in plucky and determined little Thomas.
Written By R Healy


We are introduced to Thomas – the tank engine shunter who works in the big station yard shunting coaches.  A cheeky little thing, Thomas goes too far when he teases Gordon the big engine, who begins plotting revenge against him.  Gordon ceases a chance to get his own back when Thomas is remained coupled to the back of his Express train, and he takes Thomas on a high speed run that he will never forget!



Our first indication of Thomas’s interest in big station life waning.  He longs to see the world and gets his chance for a passenger run when Henry takes ill.  But for an unexplained reason, Thomas isn’t coupled to the train and starts his journey without the coaches.  He’s soon stopped at a signal, and much to his dismay, finds out that he’s not been pulling the train at all.  Despite this, he returns back to the station to try again, and this time pulls the train.  But he is subject to teasing for a while due to his folly!



Thomas’s quest to leave the big station continues, and once again, another chance arises for him to prove himself.  Edward offers to swap his train of trucks for a day shunting in Thomas’s place.  Thomas, not used to trucks, soon finds himself running into bother when they gain the upper hand on Gordon’s Hill and push him down the other side.  Fortunately, Thomas has a safe escape and stops in front of the buffers, only to find the Fat Director waiting for him.  He gives Thomas another chance to prove himself with trucks, and allows him to shunt them in the yard for a few weeks.



Thomas continues his work shunting in Edward’s yard and learning about trucks, with much encouragement from The Fat Director.  One day in the yard, he spots a new engine, James, speeding through with his brake-blocks on fire.  Thomas collects the Breakdown Train and heads off to James’ aid.  After a busy afternoon of clearing the mess, Thomas brings James back to the shed and is rewarded grandly by the Fat Controller for his heroism with his own branch line.  At long last, his hopes and dreams had been realised.


James The Red Engine

These four stories tell of James the red engine, who, after his crash in Thomas The Tank Engine, settles down to be really useful. He also has trouble with trucks, coaches and top hats, but proves himself after Gordon makes a mistake.

Written By C Signore


Our first story introduces us to James and how this Mixed Traffic engine was given a red coat of paint to forget his troubles. However, his troubles aren’t over yet when he “wheeshes” a shower of water over the Fat Director’s new Top Hat! Then after double heading a train with Edward, he gets hiccoughs and startles an old lady making her drop her parcels!


After the trouble he caused in the last story, James is given a sever dressing down. He’s in such a bad temper he bangs his coaches too roughly and during a rough journey manages to break a brake pipe along the train. The guard reckons they could mend it with Newspaper and a Leather Bootlace, and they manage to do so, but not before a reluctant passenger refuses to part with his bootlaces!

Poor James is in terrible disgrace, but the Fat Director gives him one more chance to redeem himself—he is asked to take some very troublesome trucks to the station over Gordon’s Hill. But they try to make him give up by causing one delay after another, including breaking away. But their attempts are all but vain as James triumphs over them and the Fat Director is pleased with him.


Henry and Gordon often tease James about his Bootlace incident and reckon he’s not good enough. However, after Gordon is diverted on the wrong line and ends up back where he started it’s James who pulls his Express and is rewarded by pulling it sometimes to give Gordon a rest. After that, Gordon and James become good friends, especially since they both disagree with trucks!


Tank Engine Thomas Again

The fourth book tells of Thomas’ adventures on his new Branch Line, where he forgets his guard, goes fishing, gets stuck in the snow and meets new road running friends Terence the Tractor and Bertie the Bus.

Written By C Signore

Thomas is very proud of his Branch Line, and his two old coaches Annie and Clarabel. Both carry passengers, except Clarabel also carries the guard as well. One day, after Poorly Henry is late at the Junction, Thomas sets off to make up for lost time. However, in his haste, he leaves the guard behind, and they only realise it when they stop at a signal and wait for the Guard to catch up.

In this next story, Thomas wants to fish at a river he often passes over, ignoring the fact that “Engines don’t go fishing!” But when the water tower breaks down at the station by the river, the driver and fireman decide to get water from the river with an old bucket, which they emptied into Thomas’ tanks. But as they set off again, Thomas suffers terrible boiler pains; at the next station the Inspector and the Fat Controller see what the matter is and are very amazed when they discover fish inside Thomas’ boiler! After fishing them out, everyone has a lovely supper of Fish and Chips.

In this third story, we are introduced to Terence the Tractor and his Caterpillar Treads. Thomas thinks they’re ugly however when they first meet. Come winter, he has to wear his snowplough, which he dislikes every bit! But he soon manages to avert wearing it one cold day, and ends up stuck in a snowdrift! Whilst a bus comes for his passengers, Terence arrives to help pull the little tank engine out of the snow. Afterward, Thomas thanks his new friend and his special caterpillars.


In our final tale, Thomas meets the bus who took his passengers from the last story. His name is Bertie and boasts that he can go faster than him. So they both decide to have a race, and what a thrilling one is it! In spite of the obstacles that stand in their way, both bus and train come to the home stretch, and the race come to an exciting finish by Thomas going through the hill whilst Bertie struggles over it! Afterward, they both congratulate each other and become friends.


Troublesome Engines

First published in 1950, the fifth book of the Railway Series sees Henry, Gordon and James getting ‘above themselves’, which results in a frustrating time for the Fat Controller. We are also introduced to cheeky Percy the Small Engine – who would later become a firm favourite among fans.

Written By J Smith

With Thomas now working on his branch line, Gordon and Henry must fetch their own coaches. Despite help from Edward, James gets caught in the negative harmony and all three are soon grumbling terribly. The arrival of a circus only brightens their mood temporarily, for it is James who is chosen to pull the special train away. Later, Henry is sent with some workmen to clear a blocked tunnel on the main line. The workmen enter the tunnel, only to come rushing back out again, claiming that the blockage ‘grunted and moved’. Reluctantly Henry rolls bravely into the tunnel to investigate – only to be pushed helplessly back out again by an angry elephant that had escaped from the circus. Whilst waiting for its keeper to return, the elephant sprays Henry with water in alarm when he lets off steam. The men think it a great joke, but Henry is deeply upset. Gordon and James take great pity on him.

A turntable is situated at either end of the line so that the bigger engines can turn around, yet from the way Gordon was speaking to Thomas one day, one would have thought he had a tender merely to look important. But when his awkward temper jams the table, Gordon must pull his next train backwards – which makes a group of boys think he is a tank engine. James laughs, but is soon silenced when a strong wind spins him helplessly around on the turntable like a top. Gordon, Henry and James hold an indignation meeting, and come to the conclusion that they have been humiliated for long enough. They make a plan…

The following morning, the Fat Controller arrives to find the platform buzzing with angry passengers. Henry has still not arrived to pull his first train. He immediately goes to the shed to investigate and discovers that the three big engines are on strike – refusing to work unless their coaches are brought to them. Edward is summoned and the days work runs smoothly, but when the three big engines upset Edward, the Fat Controller realises it is time to draft in a new tank engine. The new arrival, a quaint little saddle-tank engine called Percy, settles down instantly and Thomas is called back to help Edward run the main line trains. Meanwhile, Gordon, Henry and James remain locked in the shed, sad and silent.

Several days later, the Fat Controller decides to let the three big engines out of their shed on the basis that they promise to behave. He then sends Thomas, Edward and Percy off to the branch line to play for a few days. Thomas goes to take Annie and Clarabel for a run while Edward takes some ‘empties’ to the quarry. Percy is left to busy himself with shunting in the yard and enjoys being cheeky to the bigger engines as they pass. But in his excitement he forgets Edward’s warning to whistle for the signalman to switch the points back to the yard from the main line. All too soon, Gordon appears in the distance, thundering towards Percy with the Express. Gordon stops just in time, but Percy – in a state of shock – finds himself speeding backwards on a helplessly joyride. A kind signalman sends Percy onto a siding and ends his adventure in a bank of earth. He realises that it is most important to be careful on the main line, but he is still cheeky as he is still that sort of engine.



Henry the Green Engine

This book was one of Awdry's crowning glories and it allowed a turning point for the character of Henry, who hadn't been to the author's specification due to an artistic misdemeanour.  When greeted with an unfortunate accident, Henry's fortunes turned around, much to the pleasure of the author!

Written By R Healy

Henry is feeling sorry for himself due to his prolonged illness.  The Fat Controller knows that a solution will have to be sought one way or another, meaning Henry's scrapping or by the suggestion of the fireman, the use of Welsh coal which may build up the heat in Henry's firebox.  The Welsh coal happens to work a treat, despite the Fat Controller's reservations about importing it due to expense.  Henry feels better than ever and goes like a rocket!  But, the intentions of the author are different...



Henry is chosen to take The Flying Kipper, a goods train of fish to markets across the Island.  It's a cold winter and there's been a bad snow fall, which makes for trouble further along the line.  Henry has a smooth run up until a point, unknowing that a signal has been forced down with the heavy snow and he's being diverted into a siding due to frozen points!  Through pure chance, the crew of the train parked in the siding have just left the brake van, which is torn to pieces when Henry crashes into it, along with a good load of cocoa being ruined!  The Fat Controller seizes the opportunity of the crash to rebuild Henry, sending him to Crewe to be given a new shape and larger firebox, eliminating the need for special coal and making Henry the engine he always deserved to be.



Gordon is cross and takes his aggression out at Henry's expense, complaining about the big green engine's new shape, his "galivanting off to Crewe" and Henry's whistling!  Henry feels upset about Gordon's comments, but soon cheers up again when he's back at work.  Gordon however is made to rethink what he's said about Henry's excessive whistling when he comes rocketting down the hill whistling loud and prolonged!  It's not until two fitters knock his whistle valve in place that he can finally stop and give everyone some peace at long last!  And Henry's utterance of Gordon's own words - "It isn't wrong, but we just don't do it!" pretty much sum up the whole situation!



Percy is cold and moaning about wanting a scarf to keep warm.  The others tell him to stop being ridiculous and to forget about it, but Percy is adamant.  The Fat Controller is trying to make a good impression on some visitors to the Railway, and as his bags are being carried across the line, Percy scuppers his plans when entering the yard so quietly the Porters cannot hear him.  By doing this he ends up sending suitcases flying into the air, and smashing open a jam jar which covers the guests and makes the Fat Controller look foolish.  Not, however, as foolish as Percy does with jam trickling down his face, trousers around his funnel and a top hat on his lamp iron.  He is sternly told off, and hurries away to be cleaned, not wishing to have a scarf anymore!



Some rogue boys find it fun to drop stones on Henry's train as they pass a bridge.  They break glass, hit the Fireman as he's shovelling and it's only by pure luck that the passengers aren't injured.  However, there is an air of bad feeling, and requests to phone the police.  But the Driver has a better idea...sneeze on the boys!  On the return trip, they watch out for the boys and make sure they have plenty of ashes to shoot up at them as they pass the bridge.  When they approach, Henry gives a good blast of ash and soot, making sure the stupid boys have something to think about in future as they walk home covered from head to toe!


Toby the Tram Engine

The seventh volume of the Railway Series, published in 1952, introduces us to a ‘short and sturdy’ steam tram called Toby, who runs a tramway in East Anglia with his coach Henrietta. This book tells of how he met the Fat Controller, and how he eventually came to the Island of Sodor after his line closed down. Toby is a delightful character and Awdry creates a lot of sympathy for him in this book.
Written By J Smith
Toby is a ‘short and sturdy’ steam tram, who does not look like a steam engine at all. With his coach Henrietta, he once ran a tramway in East Anglia were he took trucks from farms and factories to the main line. But as the years went by, Toby had fewer trucks and fewer passengers. One day, Toby meets a stout gentleman on holiday with his two grandchildren. Despite being mistaking him for an ‘electric’ tram, his crew are delighted to give the family a ride. They return every day for a fortnight and are soon good friends with Toby. But a few months after the stout gentleman leaves, Toby’s line is schedules to close. After his last journey, Toby returns sadly to his shed – to be woken the next morning by his crew, who have just received a letter from the stout gentleman…

There is a quarry at the end of Thomas’ branch line, and for a short distance it travels alongside a road. One morning, Thomas is bringing some trucks down from the quarry when he spots a policeman beside the line. He whistles a friendly ‘good morning’, but the policeman is not at all friendly like the constable that recently retired. He angrily scolds Thomas and classifies him as a ‘Regular Law Breaker’ – for engines cannot travel alongside public roads without cowcatchers and side plates for reasons of safety. The Fat Controller is summoned to settle the situation, but he realises that there is no use arguing with policemen. He almost gives in until Thomas’ pleas remind him of Toby, who he had met on holiday. Toby is ideal for quarry work, so he is brought to the Fat Controller’s railway at once. He and Thomas are soon good friends – especially after Toby frightened the policeman with his bell.

James rudely disregards Toby and Henrietta, looking down at them as if they were peasants and calling them ‘dirty objects’. Toby soon looses patience and asks James why he is painted red. James proudly announces that red is the only worthy colour for a spendid engine, who’s paint would never get dirty –until Toby reminds him of the incident with the bootlaces. James is deeply insulted, and is made crosser still when he learns that he must pull a 'slow goods' later that day. He bumps the trucks in fury, and they decide to get back at him. They push James down Gordon's hill and send him hurtling into a train of idle tar wagons standing in the goods yard. James’ splendid red paint is splashed with tar, and he is most uncomfortable when Toby and Percy come to his rescue. Toby is rewarded with a new coat of paint for his assistance, and Henrietta is promised one too.

As Christmas draws closer, Thomas finds his trains getting heavier. But when he sees a handkerchief waving from the window of a little cottage beside the line, he feels a boost of confidence. His crew tell him that it was Mrs. Kyndley – who has become bed sick. Thomas feels sorry for her, but there is more to worry about when heavy rain begins to pour. One day, during a particularly harsh downpour, Thomas is approaching the cottage when his crew notice a red dressing gown flapping from the window. They realise that Mrs. Kyndley is in trouble and stop the train to investigate with a doctor. They also find that a landslide caused by the rain now blocks their path ahead. They realise that Mrs. Kyndley raised the signal to warn them – and to thank her for saving them Thomas, Toby and the Fat Controller pay her a special visit on Christmas Day. The Fat Controller gives Mrs. Kyndley tickets to Bournemouth where she will get better, and Thomas and Toby look forward to welcoming her home.


Gordon The Big Engine

The second of Awdry's books to have a continuous storyline throughout saw Gordon the Big Engine running into trouble in the beginning of the book, then throughout working through his punishment, and finally winning back approval by being allowed to pull the Royal Train carrying HRH The Queen.
Written By R Healy
Gordon prides himself on never having had an accident, unlike Henry who came off the rails whilst pulling the Flying Kipper, and is keen to emphasise the fact when Henry calls him "Fat Face".  Gordon is later called upon to take a special whilst resting in a siding, but much to his horror, finds out it will involve taking trucks!  He tries every trick to avoid having to do so, namely refusing to help his fire, meaning Edward has to push him to the turntable to be made ready.  But Gordon has other ideas and tries to jam the table as he had done before.  His plans go awry and he ends up slithering into a ditch and spending the remainder of the day there.  The big engine is hauled free by Henry and James later that night, and crawls back to the shed in disgrace.
Gordon is cleaned following his run into the ditch, and later finds himself doing mundane jobs such as pulling trucks and shunting duties.  James is required to do his Express Run in his place, and Gordon is quick to warn James about leaves on Gordon's Hill.  Unwilling to listen to the warning, James goes on ahead and takes the Express.  However he soon realises his mistake and ends up slipping on the leaves that have landed upon the line.  He ends up struggling with the train, and Gordon ends up seeing everything that has happened.  In the end, Gordon graciously lends a hand and pushes James up the hill with the train.
Thomas makes rude comment about Gordon's accident by referring to a "Funny, musty sort of smell" which can only be "ditch water!".  Gordon is cross about being reminded about the accident, but doesn't get a chance to answer.  Thomas is sent to collect trucks to take a mine, where he decides to take a risk and go past a "DANGER" board.  He knocks his driver and fireman off the footplate and when he goes past the board, ground opens up beneath him and he ends up falling down into a mine.  Gordon comes to his aid and pulls him back onto the rails again.  Both engines are now in disgrace, and find a common bond in their dilemmas.  They decide to form an alliance, and help one another in future.
The Queen is coming to visit the Railway and there is speculation over who will pull the Royal Train.  Both Gordon and Edward know they will be ruled out of it, but Henry feels himself to be the best candidate in the running.  His dreams of grandeur are scuppered however when an alteracation with a painter at the Big Station is knocked off his ladder and covers Henry in white paint.  Gordon and Thomas are keen to see one another back in their proper places and so decide to ask the Fat Controller for his forgiveness.  Knowing he'll need them both, the Fat Controller concedes and allows Gordon the privellege of pulling the Royal Train and Thomas of sorting things in the yard for the big day.  Gordon feels immense pride as he pulls in with the Queen and it's a more than fitting way to show he is forgiven.



Edward The Blue Engine

Following suit with some of the other engines, Edward is finally given his own book and a chance to shine with some of the best stories of the Reverend Awdry era.  Here we see Edward helping Trevor, hindering Bertie, getting the last laugh on his doubters when Gordon and Henry come worst of a cow, and proving himself to be as useful as ever when he rescues James!

Written By R Healy

Edward has a run in with some cows which manage to detach a few of his trucks from his train without him noticing until he returns to the yards.
Gordon and Henry tease his mercilessly, commenting upon how they would never come foul of cows in the same way.  However, some days later, Gordon and Henry find themselves in a rather odd situation with a lonely mother cow missing her calf.  The tangle is only sorted when the two are reunited allowing the two engines to move on, but keen to keep it quiet - but as is the way on Sodor, the word spreads, and Edward has the last laugh on them...

Edward is unaware that Bertie is carrying Thomas's passengers, and so neglects to wait for him pulling into the station - which means the poor little red bus has to start a chase across the Island to try and catch up and deliver the passengers.  However, each time he comes close, he misses Edward who's already moved on.  But Bertie is determined to catch him and his passengers encourage him to keep on.  Third time lucky, Bertie meets Edward at the station and the passengers catch their train - and give Bertie a big thank you for his effort.

Edward takes some trucks to the Scrap yard and meets a traction engine called Trevor, who's due to be broken up the following week.  Taking pity upon him after Trevor explains more, Edward makes it his mission to save him from scrap.  He approaches the Vicar, who is more than happy to take a look - and after a happy evening with his two boys at the Scrap Yard with Trevor showing his paces, he buys him and gives Trevor a new lease of life in the Vicarage Orchard.

James begins complaining to the other engines about Edward's poor time keeping - and claims he clanks about like a lot of old iron.  The others defend Edward, but James stubbornly sticks to his own ideas.  But a few days later, when some naughty boys meddle with James' controls and send him off on his own down the line, there's only one engine who can save him... James is very grateful for such a daring rescue, and the Fat Controller kindly grants Edward the chance to get his worn parts mended at the Works.


Four Little Engines

A landmark volume of the series, this book introduces us to an entirely new set of characters and a completely different railway – expanding the world of Sodor. The Skarloey Railway, a narrow-gauged scenic line, is based down to the detail on the famous Talyllyn Railway in Tywyn, Wales, and is run by the Thin Controller. Much like the Fat Controller’s Railway, this little line has just as many stories to tell and has since developed over the years with a thick history behind it. This volume is the first of several focusing on the Skarloey Railway, and introduces the first four locomotives of its fleet.
Written By J Smith
Edward is sent for repairs at Crovan’s Gate, and whilst he is waiting to be seen, he spots a little narrow guaged engines standing alone nearby. He recognises the engine as Skarloey, one of the little engines who run a beautiful scenic line known as the Skarloey Railway. Edward goes over to talk to his old friend, and Skarloey tells him that two new engines have arrived. Sadly, his brother Rheneas was put onto a truck and sent away to be mendedHe tells Edward all about their line and reminisces about the time when he and Rheneas ran it together. When Edward leaves him, Skarloey closes his eyes and remembers his youth in peace.

The two new additions arrive at the shed – Sir Handel and Peter Sam. Peter Sam is kind and peaceful, but Sir Handel is conceited and grumpy. He complains bitterly about the state of the engine shed and even speaks rudely of Skarloey. He is put into an even worser mood when he is chosen to go out first and deeply offends the coaches by calling them ‘cattle trucks’. The coaches decide to get back at Sir Handel, and hold him back on a hill, making him strain so badly that sand is needed to complete the journey. The Thin Controller gives him a formal warning, but a few days later when he discovers that he must go to the quarry to collect some trucks, Sir Handel purposely derails himself. He is sent to the shed to repent.

With Sir Handel in disgrace, Peter Sam takes over his duties.  He is a much more pleasant character, and he treats the coaches with kindness and respect. They take an instant liking to him, but Peter Sam begins to worry when Henry threatens to leave without him if he is late for the connection. He frets so badly that when forced to wait an hour for his passengers on their return trip, he sets off too quickly and leaves the Refreshment Lady behind. Thankfully, they manage to stop to let her on and still catch Henry in time. The Refreshment Lady rebukes Peter Sam for leaving her, to which the little engine tells her about Henry’s threat. She laughs and explaining that Henry cannot leave – he is a ‘guaranteed connection’. Before Peter Sam can say anything more, Henry has already chuckled away.

Peter Sam is in need of repairs, so Sir Handel is allowed to return to work on Market Day. He tries to be kind to the coaches, but they still do not trust him. When sheep stray onto the line and Sir Handel is forced to stop abruptly, the coaches think he is bumping them and to pay him they cause him to derail at an awkward bit of line just outside the station. An engine is needed to take the village people home and fetch the tourists – but the only one available is Skarloey. The manager is worried, but Skarloey is unconquerable. He scolds the coaches for their misconduct and struggles on where Sir Handel left off, knowing that he could run into trouble. Sure enough, his front spring breaks, but Skarloey is determined to complete the journey. He does so – limping triumphantly, and in return for his efforts, he is rewarded with an overhaul.


Percy the Small Engine

Written on what appears to be popular demand, this volume was published in 1956 and dedicated to four fans of the Railway Series who had written to Wilbert Awdry asking him to write a book about Percy. Up until this point, Percy had only played a minor role in the series but as the author states in the prologue, ‘we [all] think he deserves a book’. This volume elaborates on the character of Percy and introduces two new characters – Duck the Great Western Engine and Harold the Helicopter. This was also the final volume to be illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby.
Written By J Smith

Percy has not changed since we met him last. He continues to be cheeky to the other engines – and after humiliating Gordon and James, the two big engines decide to pay him out. One day, Percy is careless and tells Gordon and James that he is taking trucks to the junction. The two engines seize their opportunity and pretend to be discussing ‘backing signals’. They offer to explain, but Percy declines. Later on, just outside a station, Percy comes across a signal that shows ‘line clear’ – but he has never encountered such a signal before. He immediately thinks that it is a backing signal and begins to reverse. His driver stops him in time and explains his mistake – just as Gordon rushes past with the Express. The big engines spend the night talking about signals, but Percy thinks they are being very silly.

Percy excitedly tells the others about the Fat Controller’s plans to draft in a new engine to assist with the heavy yard duties, but they are more convinced that the lack of efficiency is due to Percy’s incompetence. This makes him cross, but he soon cheers up when the Fat Controller enlightens him that the new arrival will easily handle the work alone, meaning that Percy can help build the new harbour at Thomas’ junction. The next morning, Percy makes the acquaintance of the new engine – a handsome GWR pannier tank engine named Montague who prefers the nickname ‘Duck’. Duck settles down quickly, but the big engines take it upon themselves to order him about. Duck devises a plan to get back at them, and that evening the big engines return to find the two tank engines barring the points to the shed. The Fat Controller arrives to break up the noise and reminds Gordon, Henry and James that he is the only one entitled to give orders. When Percy leaves, Duck is left to manage alone – ‘He did so…easily!’

Percy is soon hard at work helping to build the harbour, but after a while he is distracted by a helicopter that occasionally flies overhead. One day, he stops near the airfield where the helicopter stands close by. Percy observes its ‘whirly great arms’ to which the stranger, whose introduces himself as Harold, explains their uses. He asks Percy if he would ever want to hover – which of course, Percy declines. Harold haughtily remarks that railways are ‘slow and out of date’ and buzzes away, leaving Percy frustrated. Then whilst later returning to the harbour with his stone trucks, he spots Harold flying overhead. He and his crew decide to race the helicopter, and the pursuit commences. Eventually, Percy arrives at the wharf – distressed that they must have lost, only to find Harold is still hovering and looking for a landing spot. The fireman treats Percy and his crew to a song to celebrate their victory.

Thomas brings the Vicars Sunday School to the beach near the harbour. He tells Percy that he will be busy that evening, and that the stationmaster has agreed to let Percy bring the children home on the return journey. Percy promises to do so, but by the time he returns to collect Annie and Clarabel, heavy rain has begun to pour. Percy struggles through the storm, determined to for fill his promise – but he eventually finds himself wheel-deep in water at a flooded cutting. The water sloshes his fire and the crew must break up wood and Clarabel’s floorboards to build a new one. At that moment, Harold flies overhead and drops a parachute containing hot drinks for the crew and passengers. With a new fire and a refreshed crew, Percy fights his way through the flood and arrives at the station to triumphant cheers. The Fat Controller congratulates Percy too, and comments that despite other things, Harold admits he could never beat Percy at being a submarine.



The Eight Famous Engines

The twelfth title of the series was a starter for Artist John T Kenney, who gave the style of Awdry’s Characters a more realistic look. Also, these stories tell of Percy’s Plunge, Gordon’s Foreign Trip, James and Toby becoming a “double header”, and the final tale of the Fat Controller’s engines—Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby and Duck—extraordinary travel to London to show the people there they are real as real could be.
Written By C Signore

One day, Percy is bragging to some inquisitive and intrigued Other Railway Engines about his battle through the floods to get the Vicar’s Scholl Group home, and crows that “Water’s nothing to an engine with determination!” Henry overhears this and scoffs indignantly, and is beyond words when Percy reminds him of when the big green engine was bricked up in a tunnel for his phobia of the rain!

Later, Percy and Thomas observe a DANGER notice at the Harbour Quay. The real reason is because the foundations of the quay have sunk, meaning that the wharf is uneven and slopes downward to the sea. Percy doesn’t realise this and his curiosity gets the better of him. After foolishly asking “help” from the trucks, he ends up overshooting the buffers and is up to his chin in seawater! When he is eventually rescued, Henry has the last laugh when he hauls Percy to the Works.



When Visiting Engines often visit Sodor, Gordon drones on about his younger days, when he was “young and green”. But when he mentions that London’s Station is King’s Cross, a rather uptight visitor argues that it’s Euston, which worsens when Duck comments that it was Paddington. After much quarrelling, Gordon decides to prove his point.

But the problem is he is only allowed to take his Express train as far as Vicarstown, at the other end of the line, where another engine takes it from there to London. Gordon’s attempts to go further to London a thwarted, and just when he gives up hope, his chance soon comes. The engine that was supposed to be taking Gordon’s Train has derailed, and as Gordon was the only engine available he’s to go onto London, much to his delight!
After getting much publicity during his stay, Gordon returns home, but with upsetting news that London isn’t King’s Cross…but St Pancras!!


Gordon is given a rest after coming from London, which means James takes over the Express for him. He becomes rather puffed in the smokebox and brags that he is never late.

Toby, meanwhile, couldn’t care less. He’s on his way to the Works to have his worn parts mended. But as he clanks along the Main Line, he often needs to stop for a drink for his has small water tanks. However, when he comes to a station, a new signalman doesn’t recognise Toby and orders him to go onto the next station to clear the lines for James. Poor Toby tries hard, but his tanks run dry halfway. Toby’s fireman runs back and warns James about Toby. James is beside himself with rage when he is asked to push Toby AND pull his train too! Grumbling dreadfully, he does as he is told, but he arrives at the Works Station late and exhausted. Some boys see the strange sight, and are convinced that Toby must have come to help James! This is the last straw for the red engine, who disappears in a cloud of smoke!


One evening, Thomas, Toby and Percy have been asked to join the other engines at the Big Station. As they are pondering the reason why, a cavalcade of engines from the Other Railway passes by (two being friends of Percy, known as Jinty and Pug). They follow on where all the other engines are waiting. The Fat Controller then announces that the people in London have read about their adventures in books, but don’t believe they exist. So, as they are to go to London to prove them wrong, the Other Railway Engines are to do their work while they re away.

Thomas helps Jinty shunt coaches, and began boasting about his great race with Bertie. But he becomes over excited and crashes into some buffers, damaging his front. The Fat Controller sends him to be mended, but if Thomas isn’t mended in time they shall have to leave without him…

Early next morning, the engines wait at the Junction. Gordon, Henry and James to lead off, Toby and Percy each on a truck, hauled by Edward and Duck. Just one minute before they leave, Thomas comes hurrying up with Annie and Clarabel. At last, they parade of engines set off on their long journey. The People of London are very impressed, and the Fat Controller’s Engines puff proudly home to the echoes of cheers.


Duck & The Diesel Engine

This remarkably epic volume was the first to elaborate upon the character of Duck, who had appeared briefly in ‘Percy The Small Engine’. This was also the first volume to see a diesel engine on the Fat Controller’s railway. Yet, this diesel was to be the Railway Series’ first true villain – a specific characteristic that stressed Awdry’s strong opposition to the modernisation of railways with diesel traction. The stories tell of how the baneful visitor makes Duck highly unpopular with the other engines and has him briefly exiled. The Great Western hero must win back the trust of his friends by preventing a serious accident. Additionally, this volume was the first to ‘guest-star’ a ‘real’ engine -‘City of Truro’.
Written By J Smith
Important visitors have come to inspect the Fat Controller’s Railway, and they have brought their own private engine with them. Duck makes the acquaintance of the visitor, who turns out to be the famous record-breaking ‘City of Truro’. The pair are soon talking ‘Great Western’ well into the night, but despite Duck’s praise when the visitor leaves next morning, Gordon is not convinced by his achievements. He stubbornly claims Truro untrustworthy due to the absence of a dome - for one should never trust a ‘domeless engine’. Of course, Gordon is secretly jealous. A few days later whilst purposely trying to out-beat his rival’s speed record, Gordon gives himself such a ‘knocking’ that he loosens his dome and a strong wind blows it clear from his boiler as he passes over a viaduct. There is little talk of ‘domeless engines’ after that.

City of Truro’s visit makes Duck proud to be Great Western. The other engines soon grow tiered of his patriotic pride and are glad when a visitor arrives on trial – a black Class 08 diesel shunter. Duck is asked to show the visitor around – but despite his good manners before the others, Diesel begins to show a more sinister side when he and Duck are alone. He tells Duck that there is no need for him to learn the ways of the Fat Controller’s engines, for diesels are ‘revolutionary’. Duck decides to put the diesel’s statement to the test. Later, he returns to the yard to find the new-comer trying to move some old trucks from a siding – but despite his heated attempts, the trucks refuse to move. Eventually their brakes snap and the gears jam in the sleepers, leaving Diesel humiliated and unable to move them any further. The yard soon fills with the sound of laughter, as the trucks strike up a song - 'Pop Goes The Diesel'
Duck is outraged by the behaviour of the trucks, but Diesel firmly believes that Duck set out to humiliate him on purpose. He begins to plot vengeance – and spreads vicious rumours around the goods yard about Gordon, Henry and James, claiming to have heard them from Duck. Knowing that the trucks won’t stay silent, Diesel’s plan works perfectly and the rumours quickly reach the three bigger engines. They confront Duck at the sheds and bar him from entry after he returns from a hard day of work. The Fat Controller arrives to split up a bitter argument, but cannot solve the mystery of who started the rumours. He decides to send Duck to Edward’s branch line for a while. Our hero rolls sadly away as baneful Diesel smirks triumphantly in the darkness of the shed.

Edward makes Duck feel welcome on the branch and he quickly settles down, but the three bigger engines still refuse to talk to him. One day Duck helps a goods train up an accent, but as he is making his way back to the yard, his driver hears a warning whistle. They look back in horror to see a breakaway hurtling down the hill after them. A dramatic chase commences, and the trucks eventually catch up with Duck. With the heavy trucks surging behind them, both engine and crew fight for control to bring the runaway train to a stop. Quite unexpectedly, they are diverted onto a siding after a near-miss collision and into a goods yard – moments before Duck ploughs front-first into the wall of a barbershop. The barber is furious, and lather’s Duck’s face all over – but the Fat Controller arrives and explains that Duck and his crew had prevented an even worser accident. The barber apologies to Duck and the Fat Controller proudly informs him that he is welcome home to the yard. Duck is surprised – for the others favoured Diesel, but it turns out that Diesel had tried the same tricks on Henry and was sent away in disgrace. So with his new paint shining, Duck returns home to a heroic welcome from his friends.



The Little Old Engine

The second of the books to be written about the Skarloey Railway, chronicling Peter Sam's incident with slate trucks, Skarloey's return from the works, the introduction of two new characters - Rusty and Duncan, as well as the surprise revelation from Skarloey that he and Rheneas aren't as unique as they were first thought to be during a visit from the television people!
Written By R Healy

Sick and tired of having to work with trucks, Sir Handel is given sneaky advice by Gordon in how to get out of such a job - pretend to be ill.  He does so the following morning, leaving Peter Sam to do his work for him instead as well as his own.  Sir Handel has been rough with the trucks, and they are determined to get back at him for his unkindly treatment.  They do this by breaking loose on the incline slope when they see what they believe to be him at the bottom, and instead end up hurting Peter Sam instead.  Sir Handel is found out to have been telling lies and the Thin Controller orders him to think about what he's done by doing Peter Sam's work as well as his own.  He does begin thinking, about Gordon!
Peter Sam feels sad and alone being unable to work following his accident, however, it's made up for when Skarloey is brought home again and provides him with some good company.  Peter Sam fills him in on all the happenings since he has been gone and begins telling him about the conflict between Rusty and Duncan, the two new engines.  Skarloey soon finds out how much of a handfull Duncan will be when he's forced to go and rescue him from a tunnel which he has gotten himself trapped in due to what his driver calls "Rock and Roll".  The Thin Controller is less than impressed and reminds Duncan to be more steady during his journey, and threatens to "cut down his cab and funnel" as punishment, which soon shuts him up, at least for a while!
Skarloey compliments Rusty for the improvements he's made to the railway since his absence.  However, Rusty is quick to warn Skarloey of problems further up the line, where there's still a bad patch of line, and he's worried that Duncan may come off there.  Insulted by this remark, Duncan snappily reminds Rusty that he "knows his way about and doesn't need smelly Diesels telling him what to do."
Rusty refuses to collect his coaches the following morning, and after a chat with James where Duncan gets some "ideas", he begins to do Rock 'n' Roll as he climbs the hill over the bad patch of line, and duly comes off.  Rusty almost refuses to help following Duncan's ignorance, but Skarloey makes him remember the importance of the passengers and he goes for their sake.  That evening, Duncan apologises and he and Rusty soon become friends.
When people come to view the railway, Peter Sam and Sir Handel become worried about the future of the railway, considering what happened to theirs.  His Driver notices his distress and explains what's going on, they're going to be putting the Railway on television.  Sir Handel is less than impressed and refuses to appear, until as such times as the Thin Controller announces he wants all the engines to appear, when he makes an excuse, claiming he doesn't feel well.  The Thin Controller duly grants a way around that, by having his crew take him apart for examination for the cameras!  He gives the engines their different tasks, with Peter Sam being allowed to pull the special television train.  At the end of their visit, the owner introduces Skarloey as being their "Little Old Engine" and "95 years old and as good as new" claiming there to be "Nothing like him anywhere."
Skarloey begs to differ, and announces that he found his twin whilst in England, Talyllyn, who works on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales.



The Twin Engines


For this volume, Awdry had to write in Scots slang for a lot of the dialogue used by newcomers Donald and Douglas.  This book is the first indication we get of not all being well for steam on the Mainland, hence the fact Douglas has escaped with his twin's help for want of a future, and leaving the Fat Controller with the dilemma of what engine to keep, and which one to send back home again!

Written By C Signore


The Fat Controller’s Railway is becoming increasingly busy. No sooner has one train arrived, than it leaves as another. Everyone is feeling overworked, and the engines are grumbling about the constant Goods Work. So the Fat Controller promises that a Goods Engine from Scotland will arrive to help.

But the next day, the Fat Controller is given an unexpected surprise—it appeared that two engines had come instead of one. The Railway Director tries to work out which of them was Engine “57646”. But neither would tell who was who—they called themselves Donald and Douglas, after they had lost their names and numbers on the way. Determined to find out who is the malingerer, he orders the Inspector to send them to work.


The twins are both given numbers—Donald 9 and Douglas 10. When the painters leave, Douglas mentioned to his twin that, although they painted numbers on their tenders, they hadn’t put names on them!

Just then, the Inspector arrives, and says that Duck will show they around the Yard. The twins get on well with Duck, and even put Gordon and Henry in their place!

One of the carriages on Gordon’s Express is a Special Coach, full of people from England, Wales and Scotland, who want to travel on Thomas’ Branch Line. Every evening, engines have to remember to shunt the Special Coach to the bay Platform for Thomas to collect shortly, after the other coaches are taken away empty. One evening, Douglas offers to take away Gordon’s coaches in place for Duck. But he worries so much about being sent back to Scotland, that he forgets about Thomas’ Special Coach, which he shunts with the others into the carriage siding…

Soon, Thomas and passengers are complaining about the mix up, and Douglas is horrified at being caught out. But his driver has an idea—the engines swapped tenders, so as Donald, disguised as Douglas, leaves with a goods train, Douglas pretends to be Donald and no nothing about what has happened. After the Fat Controller has calmed down the passengers, he suddenly turns to Douglas, demanding why he is veiled with Donald’s tender…!

After the coach incident, the Fat Controller is keeping an eye on both engines, seeing which of them shall stay. But Donald and Douglas are upset at this, so decide to work as good as each other—that way they’ll both have to be kept!

Unfortunately, a Spiteful Brakevan in the Yard takes an instant disliking for Douglas, and causes him endless problems, until Donald gives it a good bump and threat—the van’s behaviour soon improves. But then Donald has an accident when he crashes into a signal box, resulting in more problems for the Fat Controller, who was planning to send Douglas back and keep him! So, with Donald having his tender mended, James is enrolled with the goods work, which he grumbles about.

The Spiteful Brakevan, who is on James’ morning train, causes bother for the red engine, by telling the trucks to hold back. Douglas is at Edward’s Station as Poor James struggles wearily in, where he asks for help up the hill. Douglas is more than willing to do so, and the two engines force the trucks up the hill. Unfortunately, Douglas pushes a little too hard, resulting in crushing the Brakevan to smithereens!

The Fat Controller is more displeased with Douglas as he was with Donald, but Edward mentions of how hard working Douglas sounded from his yard, leaving the Fat Controller in an awful decision…should he keep Donald or Douglas?


Heavy snow has come to Sodor, blocking the lines with deep drifts. Donald and Douglas, however, prove that they’re more capable in snow as other engines are. Coupled back to back, with a van between them, and snowploughs on fronts, they patrol backwards and forwards clearing the lines best as they can, which they do very well in—the engines are pleased, especially Henry, whom they rescued when he got himself stuck!

But all is not well. The Twins gloomily tell the others that the Fat Controller might send both them away. Gordon, James and Henry protest at this and agree that something must be done for Donald and Douglas. When Percy asks Edward, he suggests in having a Deputation—in which engines tell the Fat Controller something is wrong and ask him to put it right.

So after Percy tells them about the “Depostation”, the others are very unsure. After a thought, Gordon announces that Percy shall be the “Disputation,” much to the little green engine’s shock.

When The Fat Controller comes back, Percy worryingly tells him about their “Desperation”, which makes up the Fat Controller’s mind for good. Next morning, he congratulates Donald and Douglas for their work in the snow, and offers them a new coat of paint, as well as having nameplates too. The Twins were surprised, until they realise that the Fat Controller has decided to keep them both. The rest of The Fat Controller’s Speech is drowned out as the Yard fills with delighted cheers and whistles!


Branch Line Engines

The 1961 edition to the Railway Series draws our attention to the Ffarquhar branch line, where there is ‘never a dull moment’. Thomas has an amusing accident, and so a diesel-railcar is drafted in to take care of his duties whilst he is being repaired. But she proves to be awkward and lazy. Toby and Percy also have their share in the drama. This was the first volume to feature a ‘female’ engine – Daisy, who is also the first diesel engine to become a permanent member of the Fat Controller’s fleet.
Written By J Smith
Thomas knows his branch line very well, and becomes highly conceited when his driver jokingly tells him that he knows it well enough to manage without a crew. Thomas boasts about it to Percy and Toby, who think he is foolish to ever imagine such a thought. This makes him determined to prove them wrong, and his chance comes early one morning when he wakes up early whilst Percy and Toby are still asleep. Nudging his pistons forward, Thomas slowly begins to move out of the shed with the intention of ‘wheeshing’ his friends, thinking he is doing so by his own will – but he is only moving because of a careless cleaner meddling with his controls. Unable to stop himself, Thomas rolls helplessly through the yard and comes off the rails at a road, crashing head-on into the wall of the stationmaster’s house - just as the family are sitting down to breakfast. The stationmaster, his wife and the Fat Controller are all furious, and Thomas is depressed to learn that a diesel will be doing his work whilst he is having his front-end mended.

A few days later, the Fat Controller introduces Percy and Toby to Daisy, a chic diesel railcar who will be taking over passenger duties in Thomas’ absence. They do their best to make her comfortable, but Daisy is extremely awkward and hard to please. She makes heavy demands for a suitable shed and even insults Annie, Clarabel and Henrietta – having them removed from the carriage shed so that she can occupy it herself. The next morning when she begins work, Daisy blows a fuse when she learns that she must pull a milk van to the dairy (one of Thomas' every-day duties). She tells the stationmaster and the passengers that her fitter has forbidden her to pull for the sake of her swerves. This is not true, but Daisy manages to convince them and purrs away knowing that she can now get away with whatever work she chooses.

Daisy pities Toby for having cowcatchers and side plates, convinced that they are merely symbolic of his fear of meeting a stray animal on the line. Daisy has never been in such a situation before, but she is certain that the ‘proper’ way to deal with stray animals is to 'toot and look them in the eye'. Her opportunity to put this tactic into practice comes when a bull called Champion escapes his farmer and strays onto the line for some breakfast. Daisy toots and leers, but when Champion finally looks her in the eye, she looses her nerve and backs hastily away. Toby comes to the rescue and ‘shoos’ Champion to the crossing. Later when some boys taunt Daisy with a packet of sweets called ‘bull's-eyes’, she scuttles away mortified to veil herself in the shed.

Daisy remains lazy and slack, and after leaving the milk behind yet again, Percy realises that he must make a special trip to deliver it. He feels as if he has nothing better to do then shunt and handle trucks, but Toby takes pity on him. They arranged a ‘switch’ - Toby takes the milk whilst Percy heads to the quarry, but having never been to Toby’s quarry before, his lack of experience with the trucks leads to disaster. After recklessly ordering them about, the trucks get their own back by sending Percy hurtling down the quarry line out of control and into an idle train of stone trucks waiting in the yard. The Fat Controller makes Percy realise his mistake as he sits perched upon the remains of the smashed brake van – for now only there are only two engines avalible to run the branch line. He then turns his attention to Daisy and threatens to send her away on account of her laziness, but after her assistance in the aftermath of the accident, he agrees to give her a second chance under Toby’s tuition. All is well when Thomas returns from the works and Percy is sent for repairs. Soon after, all four engines become strong friends and Daisy is now a welcome member of the branch line family. She can even ‘shoo’ stray animals – the proper way!

Branch Line Engines - Audio Adaptation


Gallant Old Engine

The final book to be illustrated by John T Kenney, and the third to follow the adventures of the Skarloey Railway.  The book follows up two previous storylines, Peter Sam's incident with the slate trucks which sees his funnel coming loose and being replaced with a new one, and the return of Rheneas, and why he merited the repairs he so sorely needed and how his efforts allowed the Railway to continue on.
Written By R Healy
Peter Sam's funnel has been shaky since his accident with the slate trucks in Book 14.  The Thin Controller has promised him a special new funnel for some time, but it has yet to materialise, and is becoming a great joke among the other engines.  However, when Peter Sam runs into trouble with an icicle hanging in the tunnel, the after-effects of the previous accident catch up with Peter Sam, and his funnel comes off!  The only viable alternative to get them home is a drain-pipe found by the side of the line to replace his funnel, and Peter Sam becomes a laughing stock again.  The new funnel soon arrives, and it's flatter and thinner than the usual funnels the engines use, Peter Sam suggests that someone's squashed it!  But despite the teasing, the new funnel proves to be the envy of the others when Peter Sam shows them it's advantages over their own!
Sir Handel is teased about his big broad tyres, or as the others call them "Steam Roller Wheels!", but defends them by saying he can go faster than any of the others.  Skarloey takes advantage of Sir Handel's defensive mood and tells him he would be the ideal engine to challenge George the Steam Roller, who is found to deplore railways.  Sir Handel and George meet and exchange insults, which results in something of a small race later, where both of them are competing for space on a very narrow road, where both of them should be taking care and showing more courtesy.  As a result, an accident occurs which sees trucks being hit and derailing!  A clear up soon ensues after a Policeman comes to stop the arguing, and soon after, George leaves.  Sir Handel believes he was the reason why George has left, but his victory is shortlived when some children come to the sheds and take note that the Steam Roller nearly beat him!
Duncan feels under-appreciated when he sees Skarloey being polished by Nancy who hasn't got time to do him too.  Following an incident, Skarloey loses some of his rear coaches and Duncan has to collect them.  He doesn't agree with this and makes an issue of the whole thing, up until the point when he comes to a halt in the middle of a viaduct and refuses to move.  Skarloey has to move Duncan and the coaches to the station, and there is an uproar with the passengers when they arrive.  Duncan is remined that evening by the Thin Controller that "No passengers, means no polish", but in Duncan's mind, it's "No polish, means no passengers!"
Skarloey scolds Duncan's selfish attitude and reminds him that passengers are the lifeblood of the railway, and hopes that Rheneas would have a positive influence on him on his return.  He then goes on to tell Duncan and Peter Sam the story of how Rheneas went on to save the Railway through his determination.  When Skarloey was on his last legs, Rheneas took over all services, and on one fateful journey, ends up stopping in the loneliest part of the line.  Rheneas drags himself to complete the journey, knowing that the Railway would close if he cannot make the effort and help the passengers home.  But with much grit and determination he brings the train home, to the praise of the passengers and the promise from his crew that they'll mend him ready for tomorrow!  Rheneas is welcomed back with a huge fan-fare the following day, and returned to his rightful place among the engines again.


Stepney the Bluebell Engine

This book was first published in 1963, when steam was still running (albeit in rather rundown condition) on Britains national network. Diesel power was "invading", and steam had less than five years to run on BR. Already however, preserved railways were being set up, and this book focuses on the main one at the time, the Bluebell Line in Sussex. This book is also notable in being the first to actually feature a real locomotive in the series as a main character, and gives Sodor a new element of reality that had previously never been seen before.
Written By P Budd
The book opens with a conversation between Percy the small engine, and Douglas the Scottish engine, explaining to the reader the current situation of steam locomotives on Britains railways, and how they are an endangered species, being cut up in favour of diesels. This despressing conversation is cut short however by Percy's mention of the famous Bluebell Railway in Sussex, a preserved standard gauge line, where engines are saved from scrap, restored and allowed to run on their own line.This brings the converstaion round to a small tank engine called Stepney, who escaped there from the other railway. The converstaion is interrupted however by a signal dropping noisily, and Percy noticing a crowd in the distance: suddenly, Stepney himself appears under the bridge, and steams through the station, on the last leg of a long journey. He is on loan to Sodor!
The second story opens at Edwards station, where Stepney is talking to Edward in the bay platform, explaining to him about the other engines that live on the Bluebell. We are introduced to Bluebell and Primose, Adams, Cromford and Captain Baxter (all real engines that work on the Bluebell today), and the reasons behind their names explained. This is their only appearance in the railway series. The story continues that evening at the Big Station, where Thomas, Duck and Stepney have an enjoyable time, before Thomas has to run off to take the last train of the day up his branchline. It turns out however that a very important man has missed the train, and is desperate to get to his destination that night: he charters a special working, to be hauled by Stepney, to follow the last train up the line. At a passing loop on the return, Thomas is insulted to be "shunted" (expecting a clear run through the loop), and is astonished to see Stepney dash through at speed, pulling the one coach. Next morning he is fuming when he meets Stepney, but it is resolved when Stepney cleverly flatters Thomas, and turns the conversation round: and they become best of friends!
The other engines on the branchline are astonished when Stepney announces in the yard that he actually likes pulling trucks: as a result, he swops duties with Percy, and takes the goods train down the branchline quite happily: leaving Toby and Thomas astonished! He takes his trucks to the harbour, and on the return, stops at a signal next to a cricket pitch, where a match is in full swing. Presently, the signal changes and the train restarts on its journey, just as the batsman swings a "skyer". With a clang, the ball falls into one of the moving open wagons, and the cricket team are forced to watch as their ball is carried away up the line! We are then introduced to Caroline, a clapped out Austin 7 car, who is forced to chase the train at speed, which she complains strongly about. They finally catch up as Stepneys crew are booking off duty in the yard: and promptly, dig out the ball, however this then leaves a problem: how to get back to the match? Caroline is too tired to make the journey back, so in a stroke of genius she is loaded onto a lowflat wagon With a brakevan coupled up, they make their way back to the pitch and watch the rest of the game from the embankment behind the pavilion.
There is trouble in the shed one morning, when a nasty diesel (D4711) turns up from the Other Railway, and insults the steam engines about being "out of date". The engines are infuriated, and call an indignation meeting around the turntable early next morning. They all agree that something must be done to pay the spiteful diesel out: but what? Later that morning, D4711 is preparing to take the express, whilst a fitter adjusts his air intake cover. Boasting to Duck and Stepney, he moves forward to back down on the train, however with a cloud of black smoke, he stops and his engine shudders to a halt. Stepney and Duck push the 'failed' diesel back into the shed: with no spare engine, arrangements are made for Duck to haul the express: Stepney offers to help, and with the plan agreed, the two back down onto the fifteen coach train in the station proudly, instead of the diesel. With confidence, the pair set off in fine style, cruising to a stand into the station, where Gordon is waiting to take over. Here the truth about D4711 is revealed: it turns out the fitters bowler hat had been blown from his head in the wind, and straight into his air intake, becoming lodged in the clean air compartment of his engine.  Stepney leaves the following day to a warm goodbye, whilst the Diesel leaves after saying goodbye to no-one, and leaving two things behind - (in the words of Rev Wilbert Awdry) "the smell of bad manners, and a battered bowler hat!"



Mountain Engines

A true one-off volume based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway in Wales, following the happenings of three of the Railway's engines - Culdee, Godred and Lord Harry/Patrick.  These engines were never used within a book again, but in spite of this the illustrations are some of the best which Peter Edwards produced within the Railway Series.
Written By R Healy
Sir Handel is feeling surly one evening following lack of co-operation between himself and the coaches.  Rheneas then makes mention that Sir Handel should be pleased he's not on a Mountain Railway, and a small argument breaks out over the workings of a Mountain Railway, until Donald arrives with a real Mountain engine, returning from being mended.  The engine (Culdee) explains the workings of his railway, and then tells the engines a story about a trip on the Mountain Railway before it opened, and how he had to use his wits and use his automatic brakes to avoid an accident.
After Duncan has a near-miss and is accused of keeping a bad look out, Culdee draws on the story of Godred to enlighten Duncan.  Godred's conceit got him into trouble, believing he could rely on his automatic brakes for absolutely any purpose, and was generally reckless.  Until one day, as he descended from the summit, rolled over and off the track and tumbled down the hill.  Afterward, Godred was brought back and since the Railway had no money to mend him, he was used for spare parts instead, until eventually, nothing else was left of him.  While this generally frightened the life out of Sir Handel and Duncan, Skarloey and Rheneas weren't keen on telling them that Culdee had made the story up!
Culdee is delivered home again and catches up with his old friends again.  But there is discontent in the yard, with the presence of Lord Harry, the new number six.  Culdee comments on Harry's recklessness, whilst Harry justifies it with being modern and "up-to-date" and Culdee reckons it's more conceit than just being Harry's "super-heat".  He proceeds to ride roughly up the mountain with his coach, which results in an accident where his coach derails at some points and Culdee has to rescue him and his passengers.  The manager reprimands Lord Harry and in the end, takes away his name as punishment, as well as taking him off passenger duty until further notice.
No.6 doesn't take to his new duties of taking "The Truck" to the summit, and complains about it to the others, who remind him of it's importance.  And on a windy day, he has to use every ounce of bravery he as to perform a rescue operation and save some climbers from the mountain.  He sees it as an opportunity to prove himself to the others and the Manager, and in spite of feeling anxious about it all, he performs the action admirably.  So much so that No.6 is honoured by the climbers for being their hero and named after a member of their group who in spite of sustaining injury himself went out of his way to help his friends.  The book is concluded with closure on Patrick's reformation, how he is still brave and ready to take risks, but knows only to do it in states of emergency.



Very Old Engines

In this, the twentieth book of Awdry's, we are taken right back into the history books, and shown the background of bouncy Skarloey and his altogether more cautious brother Rheneas, right from their building, right through their working lives, to the time of the books publishing, in 1965. It also gives us a clear insight into Awdrys policy of Sodors narrow gauge railway mirroring the real-life Talyllyn Railway, in Wales.
Written By P Budd
The story opens in a shed scene, where Skarloey and the engines are being polished and cleaned, ready for a days work. Nancy the cleaner is polishing him when Skarloey offers to tell her a story about his past.  The reader is introduced next to Talyllyn and Dolgoch, Skarloey and Rheneas's 'identical twins', of the Talyllyn Railway (who of course, Awdry based them upon). Skarloey is sent away to Sodor, to begin work on a mineral railway. He is disgusted at having to pull trucks (preferring nice quiet coaches), and refuses to steam: even the efforts of Mr.Mack, the manager, come to nothing.  After a few days the staff give up, and sheet poor Skarloey up, until he becomes "a better engine" - stubborn Skarloey suddenly feels more than a little silly.  At this point, we return to the present day, to discover that a small crowd has gathered around Nancy, listening to his story!
The manager decides to give him a second chance, and has brought in a man called Mr.Bobbie, an ex-employee at Fletcher Jennings of Cumbria (where the engines were built) to cheer up Skarloey. The trick works, and together they pull trucks all day, to make the line ready for when Rheneas finally arrves. Later the railways directors are visiting the railway, and Skarloey is excited to find out that he is pulling the special train: Rheneas however is wary, but Skarloey will not listen.  All is well until the return journey, when the manager steps onto the footplate and is a little heavyhanded in his handling, and although Skarloey is excited as speed begins to pick up, without a trailing wheel beneath his footplate, and travelling backwards, he begins to bounce alarmingly as the speed rises. The Manager, alarmed, shuts the regulator, causing the coaches to slam up violently, against poor Skarloey, which made the coaches angry: together, they surge deliberately into him, causing the Manager to fall clean off the footplate, and land upside down in a bush at the lineside!  He is not hurt, but cross - Skarloey remains out of sight for the remainder of the Directors visit in disgrace, and Rheneas pulls all their trains.  Although the directors are not clearly not happy with Skarloey, an inspector is called to solve the problem, and he reccomends fitting a set of trailing wheels beneath his cab to prevent further trouble - he is relieved to find out that the directors are no longer angry with him!
Skarloey is duly returned to the works at Fletcher Jennings, where he recieves a new set of trailing wheels beneath his cab, to prevent him bouncing, as well as being fitted with a cab too. On his return, he boasts no end to Rheneas, causing jealousy - to the point that the two refuse to speak to each other.  One wet Monday morning, Skarloey is called upon to haul the workmans train up to the Quarry.  Rheneas is rudely awakened an hour later however, with news that Skarloey has run into a landslide and is stuck! Rheneas is initally reluctant to go and help him, but after persuasion he sets out, to rescue the marooned workmen. To Rheneas's amazement, his brother humbly apologises for being swanky, before suddenly starting to giggle - realising he is covered in mud, he retorts "I'm the stick-in-the-mud, not you!", and they both begin to helplessly crack up with laughter. Still laughing, they make up, and are friends again.
It is revealed that it is Rheneas and Skarloey's one hundredth birthdays, and that preparations are underway for the celebrations.  A Duke is arranged to come and open the grand extension to the railway, however Duck is worried - thinking of the GWR locos which are all scrapped!  He tells Peter Sam who scuttles off to the shed to tell the others.  When he gets there though, preparations are already underway for the great day, and the Thin Controller is assigning jobs to the engines. A TV company are coming to the railway, and are to film the event! Come the special day, Rheneas hauls a re-enactment train of the one which opened the line, with the passengers in Victorian costume, whist Peter Sam hauls a train in front with the TV Cameras on board, filming. Peter Sam, meanwhile, is still curious after what Duck said however, about whether this Duke can be real or not, and when he finally does meet the man, he duly asks him outright.  The Duke explains that Duck was thinking of a Duke as a Great Western engine, not a real person - and that he was a real duke! And so, he wishes the two brothers a happy life in the future, and good running.  Skarloey then makes a speech in honour of his brothers in Wales, and to quote him, "Please go and see them, you Grace, and everybody, and wish them many happy returns from Skarloey and Rheneas, their 'Little Old Twins'."



Main Line Engines

Originally intended to follow the adventures of the Main Line Engines, most of the action in this book appears to centre upon engines connected or on Edward's Branch Line - particularly the twins Bill and Ben.  Highly amusing, and with some of the best Edward related plots of all.
Written By R Healy
Bill and Ben the tank engine twins have a shock  when they find their trucks have mysteriously disappeared from their sidings.  A patch of oil left behind indicates that a Diesel has taken them - which Bill and Ben believe is somehow connected with a poster in their shed about spread of infection.
The twins set off to retreive their trucks, sans names and numbers to fool the theiving Diseasel.  When they find him, he's reluctant to listen to them and refuses to give up the trucks - which means the twins get to put their own plan into action and make the Diesel quite giddy.  Edward soon arrives and informs them that this is a newcomer called Boco, who wouldn't understand about their arrangements, and orders the twins to fetch trucks for him to make up for the misunderstanding. 
Boco arrives at the sheds at the big station, where he meets Duck, who he tells about the twins' mishaps. The two of them are soon chatting happily, and Duck agrees that they can be a bother - he even calls them "The Bees".
James arrives in time to hear the nickname, and takes it to mean that Duck has a phobia of bees, and tells him not to be so silly and boasts that he wouldn't have any trouble getting rid of bees.
But the following morning when James arrives to take the Express, a white wooden box is broken open when two porters try to avoid a collision with an old woman.  The box turns out to be a bee hive, and it's inhabitants soon run amok in the Big Station, eventually settling on James' boiler, and when one burns it's foot - it stings James on the nose, forcing him and his crew to leave the station in a frantic hurry without the coaches.  In the end, Boco has to take the train in his place, whilst James becomes a laughing stock in the shed at the end of the night!
Gordon is left disgruntled by Boco's handling of the Express, and questions why a Branch Line Diesel should be allowed to run a Main Line train, and remains indignant on the subject of Branch Lines.
The following evening, he and Edward are due to take two fast trains from the Big Station - but Gordon is sent off accidentally by a woman in floppy green hat - mistaking it for the Guard's green flag.  He has to be brought back before Edward can start, meaning he has to leave first instead.
However, the signalman at the junction doesn't receive word about the change, leaving
Edward on the Main Line route and Gordon running onto the the Branch - where he's left for the rest of the night, and into the early morning when Bill and Ben find him asleep, and pretend they think he's a pile of scrap which they need to dispose of - much to Gordon's horror.  Luckily for him, Boco soon arrives to save the day, and Gordon to this day believes the Diesel to be his saviour!
When some enthusiasts arrive on the railway, Edward is given the task of taking them to the China Clay Works on their last day, but encounters difficulties in starting, and on the way home, the stormy weather adds to the problems.
One of Edward's crank pins snap and damage his frame and splashers, leaving him and the passengers stuck on the Main Line.  The crew have to remove his side-rods, which makes starting again very difficult.  So in turn, they try something different - loosening the couplings between the coaches, so that Edward can pick his them up one by one.  This is exactly the help Edward needs, and eventually, gets the train moving and triumphantly brings it home to the Big Station, late but safe, and Edward is hailed a hero.



Small Railway Engines

Foreword By R Healy
Taking inspiration from the history of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in Cumbria, Awdry introduced a new set of characters to expand the Sodor Railway network and set the premise for Duck to have his own branch line later on.  Like the Mountain Engines, these characters were to be peripheral compared with the others and appear rather infrequently in future.
Written By A Lewy
The fat Controller is replacing the Ballast on his line.. Donald and Douglas disappear down a line that the others never used.  They come back saying that “vera wee engines” are there.  The others don’t really believe the twins, but Duck wants to see for himself so he asks to take some trucks down the line.
There he meets 3 engines in Rex Bert and Mike. They tell him they were bought from another railway in England that has closed to the Island of Sodor. We also find out that they collect Ballast from the mines and they take passengers in the holiday season.  Duck leaves and promises to bring them passengers for the upcoming holiday season.
The 3 engines are in the shed one morning being prepared for the day when Bert says he is taking 2 special visitors, one who takes moving pictures and one who writes books.  They are the Thin and Fat clergymen.  They meet Bert and his driver who offers them a train ride but they prefer to go in their car and take photos instead.  As Bert goes on his journey he sees them taking pictures of him.  Bert thinks they are being unfriendly by not waving at him.
As they go through the ‘Lane’ (a muddy road beside the line and it had rained hard the night before) the Clergymen's car rushes past Bert and goes through a puddle splashing mud all over Bert wh is most annoyed and thinks of how to pay them out.  On the way back to the station the fat clergyman sits in Bert's tender for the ride.  There is a hill on the way with branches making a sort of natural tunnel over the track.
Bert made his driver use full steam to send big blasts of steam into the Branches shaking the water off the leaves so they fall on the clergyman.  He does so and his severly reprimanded by the Small Controller, but later, the two Clergymen come to see him and promise to write about him and the others in a book.

Ducks whistle was out of order, his driver and fireman had cooked eggs the night before and some of the egg had gotten into his whistle valve.
Mike made rude remarks about it and stated “Its shocking! If engines can’t whistle properly they shouldn’t try.”  Mike then takes his train proudly showing off his whistle. At the top station his driver hears a tinker and says he will tighten it at the next station.
He never gets to, as they meet a cow on the line and Mike tries to shoo it away by whistling WHOOSH his whistle cap shot up and landed in a field.
The crew started to look for it but the Passengers objected. Mike says there are boards where he is ordered to whistle so the passengers say they will whistle for him.

The farmers use the small Railway to transport their sheep’s wool to market.
Rex is told by the Small controller that he is to take the 1st train of wool.
They loaded the train up at the Lane.
All was going smoothly, but they didn’t know about Willie (a farm worker and he is supposed to meet Rex with a Tractor and trailer full of wool). 
Willie was late as he’d been dawdling, Rex’s whistle he roused and set off at speed.
The load had not been tied on the trailer properly and as he slid quickly into the yard it came off all over the line. Willie tried to warn Rex by running down the line but it didn’t help, Rex couldn’t stop in time and he tilted sideways against the line.  They cleaned up the mess but they had to leave Rex where he was and everytime a train would pass the passengers would say “Oh look!  There's been as accident.”. Mike and Bert would comment on how easy it was to pull wool trains.  When the engines get home the Small Controller tells them that they are Really Useful Engines.

SiF Audio Adaptations



Enterprising Engines

The darker of Awdry's works, Enterprising Engines was written in the same year that steam was to be abolished officially on the Main Line network in the UK.  It also brings the realisation that scrap is a definite threat to engines on the mainland as we meet Oliver, an engine so terrified of being scrapped that he's run away and trying to make his way to Sodor for a better life.  On a lighter note however, the locomotive icon that is Flying Scotsman gives Gordon all the reassurance he needs that everything is well in spite of what's happening on the Mainland when he drops in for a visit.  Sadly the last Main Line volume of the original series, it does a splendid job of wrapping up loose ends as a result!
Written By R Healy
Gordon is feeling upset, and the other engines can only laugh about his problems, suggesting it's boiler ache from the water columns on the Other Railway, but Gordon knows his problem lies deeper than that.  The Diesels on the Other Railway have been boasting that they've abolished steam, and the Fat Controller can only confirm it's true.
Gordon is sad, but the Fat Controller knows what to do to cheer him up again, and decides to bring Flying Scotsman, the only other surviving member of his class, to the Railway for a visit.
The two are photographed together and exchange stories between one another, but Henry feels jealous of the fact that Flying Scotsman has two tenders.  Duck decides to use this for a trick, and bargains with Henry to take his tenders, which turn out to be old, dirty and filled with boiler sludge!  When Henry passes through the yard that evening, he's hardly a pleasant sight!
A visiting Diesel, 199, from the other Railway causes bother for the engines with his boasting.  Duck argues that steam engines are much more reliable than Diesels and is proved quite right the following day!
Henry has lost his regulator and is being brought home slowly, tender first.  He arrives at a signalbox where 199 is waiting with a train of Oil Tankers, only to find that the boastful Diesel has failed himself!  The Signalman urges them to take the "Spamcan" away, to which 199 takes umbridge!  But he's soon put in his place when the Signalman threatens him with a tin-opener!
But 7101, the other Diesel is having troubles of his own with "The Limited" and subsequently fails himself!  His train's ejector fails and half a mile away from Henry, he grinds to a halt too.
Henry relishes the prospect of moving two "Dead Diesels" and their trains, and duly takes up the challenge despite being ill himself.  He gets between the two trains and moves them both to the next station, where the passengers praise Henry for his actions.  Soon, Henry and 7101 head back to the shed together, whilst 199 is sent home in disgrace.
On a trip to the Other Railway with a Midnight Goods, Douglas finds he's due to take back more than he bargained for!  He hears something close by and discovers it's a steam engine called Oliver, who's escaping from Scrap with his brake van, Toad, and auto-coach, Isabel.
Douglas isn't the least bit apprehensive and without a second thought, helps the engine escape.  But their journey isn't flawless, a Diesel alerts a Foreman at the mouth of the station, and they're stopped and searched before they can continue on.  After a thorough inspection, the Foreman allows them to pass and they forge ahead until they reach home once more.
The Night Foreman catches them as they slip into the works, but is kind enough to help them out by finding a place for Oliver to be kept in the meantime.  As Douglas leaves, he recalls his own past and how much he has in common with Oliver.  Had he not escaped with Donald, he would have been scrapped too...
Flying Scotsman leaves to go back to the Mainland, and when the time is right, Douglas tells the other engines all about Oliver.  All the engines agree that the Fat Controller should know about Oliver for his own safety.
He overhears the conversation and Duck pipes up that they need another engine, which is why the Fat Controller has seen fit to give 7101 another chance.  But Gordon pushes for a "real" engine, to which the Fat Controller discourages the engines further by mentioning the rarity of such an engine.  But when Douglas makes a desperate plea to let him know that one has escaped from scrap, the Fat Controller tells them he knows all about it.
The engines are delighted.  Oliver and Isabel are given a job on Duck's Branch Line, and Toad has volunteered himself as Douglas's brake van.
7101 is put to work on the Main Line, and becomes one of the family by being christened as "Bear" because of the growling noise he makes, and soon learns "our ways".
Oliver, Isabel and Toad are repainted in full Great Western livery and the Fat Controller rescues three more auto-coaches to serve along with them - Alice and Mirabel became Duck's coaches, whilst Dulcie joins Oliver and Isabel.
The others made a joke of their line, and called it "The Little Western", as a result, the name stuck and Duck and Oliver could think of nothing more fitting.


Oliver The Western Engine

The follow up to Enterprising Engines was a much more light-hearted affair, with the darker tones of the previous book being overlooked and replaced by gentle and humorous storylines.  Originally intended to be called "Little Western Engines", it was over-turned by the Publishers, which Awdry made open protest about in the book's foreword which he wrote as a letter to his wife, only ever noted as being M.
Written By R Healy
Duck's pride in being Great Western takes its toll on Donald, who accuses Duck of "quacking" as if he'd laid an egg one evening.  Duck is understandably hurt by this, and tells his Driver what Donald has said.
The Driver has a plan on how to get back at Donald and carries it out in the evening when Donald is sleeping!  The following morning, something pops out of Donald's water tank when he's having a drink and gives the crew a big surprise, it's a Duckling!
Donald has an enjoyable time with the Duckling before she drops off at a station and decides to stay there.  But Donald's crew have an idea of how to get back at Duck, and slip something beneath him in the night!  Duck's crew find a bird's nest, complete with eggs and all sitting beneath Duck the following morning!  Duck and Donald laugh, and Duck declares to Donald that "It'd take a clever engine to get the better of you!"
Oliver is made haughty by the big engines after he finds they are impressed by his adventures and remark about his "Resource" and "Sagacity".  When he is asked by the Fat Controller to handle trucks for the first time, he ignores the warnings given by Duck, Donald and Douglas.
But his over-confidence in the situation leads to his great downfall.  The trucks aren't sure of Oliver and refuse to go with him willingly, and henceforth decide to show him who's boss by forcing themselves against him and begin pushing him down into the turntable well!
Duck remarks that Oliver doesn't look so "goodgracious" as he put it any longer, and when the Fat Controller, Donald and Douglas see what has happened to the turntable, they leave him in doubt at all that he's far from being sagacious at that point!
Following his accident, Oliver is made to be the figure of fun by the trucks, who, led by their leader S.C.Ruffey, a Private owner wagon, begin singing rude songs about him around the yard.
Oliver has learnt from his mistakes and the engines do their best to support him, but despite their best efforts, the trucks continue singing rudely at him.  But Toad the Brake Van has a plan to get them to stop.  He suggests the plan to Oliver, Douglas and Duck, who, although anxious about it, decide it may just be the best course of action to take in the situation.
Oliver marshalls the trucks together into a long train with S.C.Ruffey right behind him.  The devious Private Owner wagon orders the other trucks to "hold back" so as to give Oliver a difficult time.  But little does he know that Oliver has a trick up his sleeve and with his wheels gripping the rails well enough, pulls away with all his might, and rips S.C.Ruffey in two!
The Fat Controller inspects the mess soon after, and quietly tells Oliver that S.C.Ruffey was in a poor state anyway, so what happened was inevitable!  However, the trucks don't know this, and from then on, a healthy respect was forged for Oliver in future!
On a Bank Holiday morning, Duck is unfortunate enough to encounter a rather rude double-decker bus who is intent on stealing the passengers of the Little Western, and like his road using predecessor George the Steam Roller before him, believes that railways are useless and that all engines live for is enjoyment, whilst buses are the real workers!
Oliver jokes about the rotten double-decker when he meets Duck at first, but doesn't so afterward when he has news of what Bulgy is up to!  Duck is shocked to learn that Bulgy will be trying to steal his passengers that evening, and is even more surprised when the scoundrel actually does by pretending to be a "Railway Bus"!
Duck chases after him and catches up at a bridge further up the line where Bulgy has become wedged underneath.  The passengers are cross with Bulgy, but relieved to see Duck who will be able to take them home again.  Duck carefully manouvres himself across the bridge, much to Bulgy's dislike, and with the help of Alice and Mirabel, gets the passengers to the big station.
Bulgy gets his just deserts in the end however!  The villainous bus isn't repaired and instead is laid to rest in a field close to the line where he is used as a hen-house instead, where his lies can do no harm!



Duke The Lost Engine

Drawing inspiration from several narrow gauge Railways in Wales and the events of one in South America, Awdry wrote about Duke.  Basing the character on Prince of the Ffestiniog Railway and the Mid Sodor Railway itself primarily on the Corris Railway, Awdry wrote a heart-warming and touching book which delved into the past of Sir Handel (Falcon) and Peter Sam (Stuart), and explained about the Grand-Father figure locomotive they left behind on their old Railway, and how he was repatriated once more!  For those interested in the factual history of the Mid Sodor Railway, visit Martin Clutterbuck's page on the subject here.
Written By R Healy
The story opens introducing us to three engines - Falcon, Stuart and Duke, or as he's more affectionately known - Granpuff!  The three engines work on their own line in the mountains of Sodor and live a contented and quiet life.
Duke is a stickler for discipline and doesn't like the younger engines stepping out of line, "That would never suit his Grace!" and takes the opportunity to remind them about No.2.  He was a bad character who rode roughly and flounted the rules, he was soon put in his place, permenantly in fact, and was put to work as a pumping engine behind the sheds!
But as the years draw on, the line goes into decline and the Railway is forced to close down and sell the engines.  Falcon and Stuart are sold, but Duke is too old to be of any use.  Instead, he's placed in his shed out of the way, and left there for several years.  Whilst Stuart and Falcon move on and gain new names at their new home, becoming Sir Handel and Peter Sam respectively, they never forget their old mentor.
Peter Sam raises awareness of Duke when he tells the other engines that at Skarloey and Rheneas's 100th Birthday party, the real Duke never came.  Despite protest from Duncan that the Duke was real, Skarloey still urges Peter Sam to divulge more information.
He tells them the story of what happened when Duke saved Falcon.  They had been due to take the Mountain Road as a double-header, Duke had offered to lead, but Falcon refused the offer, prefering to head the train himself to see the view ahead.  Duke is quick to remind him to be careful, and does so throughout the journey, but Falcon takes no notice.  As a result of his foolishness, he ends up coming off the rails and ending up hanging procariously from a cliff!
Duke holds tight to the young engine and keeps him from going over the edge, but it's clear that the old engine will need more than willpower to rescue Falcon, hence the need for more water is urgent.  Water is taken in every manner from a nearby Platelayer's cottage until Duke's thirst is quenched and he is able to pull Falcon back onto the rails again!
The young engine thanks Duke for his bravery and Duke receives acclimation from the passengers too.  But the hero is modest, and merely says, "Ah well, you've just had a new coat of paint, it would have been a pity if you'd have rolled down the mountain and spoilt it!"
Duke's Picnic train is a special that runs in the summer months for visitors to the railway, he is always intent upon pulling the train, even when he's unwell.  One morning, Duke felt unwell after taking "The Picnic" and returns to the shed to have his tubes cleaned out, only to be harranged by Stuart about Duke getting old and that he and Falcon will have to take better care of him in future!  Duke is indignant and starts away to collect his train.
But Duke suffers trouble as he's bringing his return train home, and has to be helped back home by Stuart and Falcon, a task which Stuart muses in!  At the station, the cavalcade split up and Stuart pulls Duke home behind the passenger train.  Still loving the situation, Stuart is unaware that Duke still has enough power to continue, and is saving a little surprise for him later on!
Duke forces the train along and makes such a noise with his effort, people come to see what's happening!  At the Works Station, a boy asks his father why there were two engines, and the father mistakenly suggests that Stuart needed help!  Stuart is furious and vanishes in a cloud of steam, whilst Duke reminds him, "You can't win!"
A band of explorers, including the Fat and Thin Clergymen, get together in order to find Duke again.  The Small Controller offers his services to them and duly allows the men to travel along his line in order to find Duke.
The men spend days scouring the hills trying to find Duke, but each time find nothing but disappointment.  That is until however, the Fat Clergyman unexpectedly falls through the roof of Duke's old shed and lands on top of him!
Duke is startled to see them, but when the group explain about Falcon and Stuart, and finally fetch "His Grace" the old engine is very happy again.
Early the following morning, Duke is finally retrieved from the old shed and taken to his new home on the Skarloey Railway.  And even though they wake him up, Duke is pleased to see his two old friends, and that little has changed about their cheeky characters!  But most of all, he's happy to be free again and being given the chance to be useful again!


Tramway Engines

What was to ultimately be the final Railway Series book written by the Rev Awdry after the delay of a full year, focussed on Thomas's Branch Line, and introduced one last new character in the form of flighty young diesel, Mavis.  In spite of the fact Awdry thought he was scraping the bottom of the barrel with these stories, he still saw it through and wrote four more classic stories before finally deciding to call it a day with the books.  There was anticipation for a 27th, and Awdry had already chosen the title of "Really Useful Engines", but as we all know, he never got chance to use it...his son did however, but that's another story..!
Written By R Healy
Percy tells Thomas and Toby about "The Ghost Train" that his Driver saw the night before, but Thomas is dismissive of the topic and calls Percy a "silly little engine".  Believing the story to be true, Percy tells his Driver that Thomas didn't believe the story, and the Driver laughs and tells him that it was a film he'd seen the night before.
That evening when Percy is returning from the Harbour, he runs into a cartload of lime that has been left lying on the track by a farmer.  When he reaches a nearby signalbox, the Signalman comments that he looks like a ghost, which Percy decides to use to his advantage to get back at Thomas!
Toby promises to help by alerting Thomas.  At first Thomas is confident when he hears about Percy's accident, and that his ghost is coming to warn them.  When the "ghost" puffs into the sheds, Thomas isn't quite as confident and scurries away in fear.
Percy is still milking the incident whereby he scared Thomas witless.  Thomas is still cross with him, and comments that he's a "Green Caterpillar with red stripes" and casts up Percy's constant lateness.  Percy knows it's not his fault as the gangers cutting the hay are delaying him, and tries to start home early on his next journey back from the Harbour.
But his plans are scuppered when he's hit by a boxload of treacle, and despite the best efforts of his crew, is still sticky when he leaves the Harbour.  There's worse to come when hay is thrown across the line by the wind and covers Percy completely, making him late again!
Thomas is cross about this, but when he sees Percy arrive, covered in hay, he soon lightens up!
Percy hopes to be cleaned before Toby arrives when he sees what he looks like in the mirror, but its no good!  Thomas tells Toby all about it, and the two engines spend the rest of the evening talking about Wooly Bear caterpillars and other creatures that crawl about in hay...Percy is unamused!
Mavis the Quarry Diesel is causing trouble for Toby when he comes to collect his trucks.  Being full of her own ideas, she prefers to put the trucks where she wants.  Toby soon tires of it and leaves her to her own devices!
Mavis seeks Daisy's advice on the subject, and she backs Mavis up completely despite knowing nothing about trucks!
In light of bad weather, Toby tries to give Mavis the benefit of his advice before she ventures down a difficult part of the line.  Mavis takes no notice and does things in her own way, parking herself in the middle of the lane, and not using the gradient of the hill to help move her train.  Henceforth, Mavis finds herself stuck!
Toby is informed and refuses to help, but his Driver reminds him that the trucks Mavis is carrying are his really, and Toby remembers the trouble he could be in if the Fat Controller finds out!  He goes up and pushes Mavis back to a part of the line where it will be easier for her to move the trucks.  Embarrassed, she quietly leaves the trucks and hurries away home to her shed in the Quarry!
Mavis is reprimanded by the Manager, and reminded that she has no business going down Toby's line.  But Mavis thinks otherwise and contemplates plans to get out of the Quarry and down Toby's line.  She convinces her Driver to let them use a teeny bit of Toby's line and then persuades the trucks to push her down the line "accidently".
Unaware of the plans Mavis has, Toby decides to shunt the trucks himself.  As he does so, he falls into the truck's hands and they push him down the line, into further peril as Toby finds himself on a dangerous bridge above a raging river.
Mavis soon arrives and pulls the trucks and Toby to safety again.  He is most appreciative of Mavis's help, and so is the Fat Controller who honours Mavis's request to travel down the line from time to time.  Following the incident, Mavis becomes a more responsible engine and always listens to advice from more experienced engines.