'Arry the Iron Works Diesel

This article is about the characters that have appeared in the books of The Railway Series by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry and Christopher Awdry.

North Western Railway[]

These are the main rolling stock of the North Western Railway (NWR), also called the Fat Controller's railway:

Steam engines[]

Thomas (Number 1)[]

Thomas the Tank Engine (No. 1) is a 0-6-0T ex-London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E2 class locomotive, built in 1915, who arrived on Sodor in the same year. He is painted in blue with red lining. Thomas is also the primary character in the eponymous television series, Thomas and Friends.

Edward (Number 2)[]

Edward the Blue Engine (No. 2) is a 4-4-0 ex-Furness Railway K2 class locomotive. He is the first character to appear in The Railway Series. He is painted blue with red stripes. He was built in 1896 and arrived on Sodor in 1915.

Edward is one of the oldest engines on the railway, as well as very kind, always tries to help, and is a friend to everyone. He likes pulling trains as well as shunting trucks, which he is very knowledgeable about. However, the bigger engines sometimes make fun of him because they say that "' Tender Engines don't shunt'", and that he is old fashioned, but the Fat Controller still says he's a Useful Engine.

Henry (Number 3)[]

Henry the Green Engine (No. 3) is a 4-6-0 based on plans for an GNR A1 prototype with parts from an GNR C1. He was built in 1919 and arrived on Sodor in 1922. There have been two Railway Series books devoted to him, namely Henry the Green Engine and Henry and the Express.

Awdry had wanted to write Henry out of the series, because Clarence R. Dalby's drawings made him look too similar to Gordon. After getting various letters from children about the character, Awdry changed his mind and in the sixth book, Henry the Green Engine, Henry is damaged in an accident and rebuilt in a more distinctive style, based on a Stanier "Black Five".[1] Henry is painted green with red stripes.

Henry was the central character in a controversial Railway Series story. In 'Henry's Sneeze', the character blasts some troublemaking schoolboys with soot and they "ran away as black as niggers". In 1972, articles in the British press raised this as an example of racism. Awdry claimed that it was a case of oversensitivity on the part of the race relations board, but he apologized and changed the offending sentence to "as black as soot", which has been used in subsequent ions of the book.[2]

Gordon (Number 4)[]

Gordon the Big Engine (No. 4) is a 4-6-2 ('Pacific') ex-London and North Eastern Railway Gresley Class A1 locomotive. He is painted blue with red stripes. He is the biggest engine on the railway and usually pulls the Express. He is also very boastful and proud, but good at heart. He loves pulling coaches but not dirty trucks. He was built in 1922, arrived on Sodor in 1923, and rebuilt in 1939.

James (Number 5)[]

James the Red Engine (No. 5) is a 2-6-0 ('Mogul') ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Class 28 mixed-traffic locomotive. He is painted red with black (later blue) and gold stripes. In the Author's Note of 'James the Red Engine' (where James first appeared), it states that the nationalisation of British railways has just happened.

Percy (Number 6)[]

Percy the Small Engine (No. 6) is an 0-4-0ST of indeterminate origins, partly based on the GWR No. 1340 Trojan. He is painted light green with red stripes.

Toby (Number 7)[]

Toby the Tram Engine (No. 7) is an 0-6-0 tram engine, of the Great Eastern Railway's class C53. He works on Thomas's branch line, the Ffarquar branch line. He is painted brown and blue. He is a wise, experienced engine who knows all there is to know about running a branch line. He was built in 1914 and arrived on Sodor in 1951.

Toby's cowcatchers and sideplates (that cover his wheels) mean he is ideal for taking stone trucks to and from the quarry at Ffarquhar, as the railway runs close to the road. Toby has his own coach, Henrietta, who is painted chocolate brown.

Duck (Number 8/5741)[]

Duck the Great Western Engine (real name Montague; No. 8, but displays his ex-GWR number, 5741) is an 0-6-0PT ex-Great Western Railway 5700 Class locomotive. He is painted in Great Western green and is officially numbered 8, although he carries a cast GWR number plate on his cab sides (5741). He currently runs his own branch line, The Little Western. He is a loyal hard worker who believes that "there are only two ways to do things: the Great Western way, and the wrong way." He was built in 1929 and arrived on Sodor in 1955. Prior to his arrival on Sodor, he worked at Paddington. This fact is revealed in the story "Gordon goes Foreign".

Donald and Douglas (Numbers 9 and 10)[]

Donald and Douglas the Twin Engines (Numbers 9 and 10 respectively) are identical 0-6-0 ex-Caledonian Railway 812 Class locomotive who came from Scotland on trial. Not wanting to be separated, and knowing that one of them would have been scrapped on remaining in Scotland, they decided to travel together and hope for the best. Although the Fat Controller was only expecting one engine and intended to send the other back to Scotland, he changed his mind after hearing how they performed in the snow and decided to keep both engines in his fleet.

The 'Twin Engines', as they became known, were painted black all-over on arrival at the island, but are then painted in blue with red stripes to match Gordon, Edward and Thomas. Donald & Douglas were given the numbers 9 and 10 respectively, as well as nameplates. They are practical, cheeky and no-nonsense engines who can be relied upon for any task. They were built in 1899 and arrived on Sodor in 1959.

Oliver (Number 11/1436)[]

Oliver the Great Western Engine (No. 11, but displays his ex-GWR number, 1436) is an 0-4-2T ex-Great Western Railway 1400 Class locomotive, who 'escaped' from the Other Railway where he was due to be scrapped. The GWR 1400 class engines were fitted with a mechanical system allowing the driver to control the locomotive remotely from the cab of an 'autocoach', such as Isabel.

He first appears in the book Enterprising Engines, where he was rescued by Douglas. His escape made him popular with the other engines. He was built in 1934 and arrived on Sodor in 1968 where he was restored, painted GWR green. He was allocated number 11 on the North Western Railway, but was allowed to keep his GWR number '1436'. He was assigned to work with on Duck's branch line, "The Little Western".

Diesel engines[]

Daisy (Number D1)[]

Daisy the Diesel Railcar (No. D1) is a unique diesel railcar, painted green with yellow lining (similar to the livery of British Railways' DMUs in the 1960s). She was built in 1960 and arrived on Sodor specially for use on the Ffarquhar branch line (Thomas' branch line). She first appeared in the book Branch Line Engines.[3]

BoCo (Number D2/D5702)[]

BoCo the Big Friendly Diesel (No. D2) is a Co-Bo mixed traffic diesel locomotive, who works mainly on Edward's Branch Line (the Brendham branch line, but can also be seen working on The Main Line. BoCo is a Metropolitan-Vickers Type 2 Class 28 diesel-electric locomotive, named after its wheel arrangement, which is known as "Co-Bo". In the Railway Series, BoCo carries his North Western Railway number 'D2', whereas in the television series he carries the number D5702. He is painted in a shade of green (light green in the television series) used by British Railways in the 1960s. He first appeared in the book Main Line Engines. He was built in 1958 and arrived on Sodor in 1965.

BoCo was received with some hostility by Bill and Ben, who called him a "Diseasel" due to a misunderstanding (the word "Diseasel" is also a portmanteau word combining the words "Disease" and "Diesel" and characters are heard commenting that "Coughs and sneezles spread diseasels"), and by James, who called him a "buzzbox". Edward accepted him right away, and soon the others were won over.

Bear (Number D3) / D7101[]

Bear (No.D3) was originally known as D7101. He first arrived on the Island of Sodor on a trial for The Fat Controller. He was accompanied by another diesel engine, D199, who talked about taking over the railway, which D7101 didn't like. Later in the same story, D7101 suffered from a failed ejector and had to be rescued by Henry. He befriended his rescuer, and The Fat Controller decided to give him a second chance. D7101 was given a new name, "Bear", a new number, D3, and a new coat of paint, and D199 was sent away in disgrace.

Pip and Emma[]

Pip (short for Philippa) and Emma are the two class 43 power cars which top and tail an InterCity 125 trainset. They had experienced problems with their cooling system and came to the railway when Gordon was on a journey.

They appeared three times, in Gordon the High-Speed Engine, Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines and Thomas and His Friends. Following Privatisation, the Fat Controller decided to purchase them in order to run a faster service to London.[4]

Other rolling stock[]

Annie and Clarabel are Thomas' coaches and carry passengers on his branch line. Annie can only take passengers, while Clarabel can take passengers, luggage, and the Guard. Thomas sometimes sings them little songs, and they love to sing too.

Henrietta is Toby's four-wheeled Great Eastern Railway coach.

Isabel, Dulcie, Alice and Mirabel are Great Western Railway autocoaches who work with Oliver (Isabel and Dulcie) and Duck (Alice and Mirabel), on The Little Western.

Toad is Oliver and Douglas' brake van that was saved when Douglas helped Oliver and Isabel from the Other Railway.

Skarloey Railway[]

Skarloey Railway locomotives all have real-life equivalents; numbers 1-7 and number 9 are all "twins" of locomotives on the Talyllyn Railway (with the same numbers); Number 8 (Duke) is based on Prince, a Small England class locomotive on the Ffestiniog Railway. The railway's executives are Sir Handel Brown (The Owner) and Mr. Peter Sam (The Thin Controller).

Skarloey (Number 1)[]

Skarloey (No. 1) is named after Skarloey station, the northernmost station on the Skarloey Railway. He's an 0-4-2ST (originally an 0-4-0ST). Skarloey's equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Talyllyn. He was built in 1864. He first appeared in Four Little Engines. The story of his early years was told in Very Old Engines.

Rheneas (Number 2)[]

Rheneas (No. 2) is named after Rheneas station on the Skarloey Railway. He is an 0-4-0WT (but also has a back tank), and is one of the oldest engines on the Island of Sodor. Rheneas is known as the "Gallant Old Engine" because he saved the railway by getting a train home after a breakdown. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Dolgoch. He was built in 1865 by Fletcher, Jennings & Co. of Whitehaven, the same company that built Skarloey. In Four Little Engines, he was sent away to be overhauled and did not return until seven books later, in Gallant Old Engine.

Sir Handel (Number 3)[]

Sir Handel (No. 3) is named after Sir Handel Brown, the owner of the Skarloey Railway. He is an 0-4-2ST (originally an 0-4-0ST, like Skarloey), who originally worked on the Mid Sodor Railway under the name Falcon. He is a stubborn and pompous engine who thinks that pulling trucks is beneath him, and will do anything to get out of jobs he does not want to do. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Sir Haydn.

He was built in 1904 at the Falcon Works in Loughborough, and arrived on the Mid Sodor Railway in the same year,[citation needed] when he was painted blue and given the name 'Falcon' (after the works he was built in). After that line closed, he was sold to the Sodor Aluminium Company and then to the Skarloey Railway, which at the time was desperately short of locomotives. Sir Handel did not cope well with the neglected track on his new railway, and would often derail - sometimes deliberately. He was given special wheels with broad tyres to cure this problem, which were soon known as "steamroller wheels" by the other engines.

In the 1980s, he was invited to the Talyllyn Railway. This story actually had some basis in fact, as the Talyllyn Railway had paid tribute to The Railway Series by repainting their locomotive Sir Haydn (whom Sir Handel was based on) to resemble Sir Handel. Sir Handel first appeared in Four Little Engines.

In the recent TV series, Sir Handel has a kind and wise personality like Skarloey, Rheneas, and Duke.

Peter Sam (Number 4)[]

Peter Sam (No. 4) is named after Mr. Peter Sam (better known as The Thin Controller), the manager of the Skarloey Railway. He is an 0-4-2ST, who originally worked on the Mid Sodor Railway under the name Stuart. He is a polite engine, popular with passengers and coaches alike. Even the trucks do not play tricks on him. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Edward Thomas.

He was built in 1920 by Kerr Stuart and Co. in Stoke-on-Trent, for the Mid Sodor Railway and was given the name 'Stuart' and painted green. Like Sir Handel, he was later sold to the Sodor Aluminium Company and then to the Skarloey Railway. Following an accident with some slate trucks (set before the arrival of Duncan), he soon lost his funnel and was fitted with a Giesl ejector which made steaming far easier (set before Sir Handel got new wheels).

In the 1990s he was sent to the Talyllyn Railway. As with Sir Handel, this was based upon the Talyllyn Railway creating a "lookalike" engine, in this case by repainting the locomotive Edward Thomas.

He first appeared in Four Little Engines.

Rusty (Number 5)[]

Rusty (No. 5) is named after his builders, Ruston & Hornsby. He is a black 4wDM, acquired direct from the manufacturers in 1957.[5] His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Midlander.

He is a reliable, practical and friendly little engine who mainly works on maintenance duties, although he can also pull passenger or goods trains if the need arises.

He arrived in the book The Little Old Engine.

Duncan (Number 6)[]

Duncan (No. 6) is an 0-4-0WT, built by Andrew Barclay in Kilmarnock in 1918, and arrived on Sodor in 1958.[5] He arrived on the railway second-hand, as a replacement when Peter Sam had his accident at the quarry. He was rough and bad-mannered, and believed himself to be overworked. He would often sway and lurch along the track – what the Thin Controller referred to as "rock 'n' roll". He had a number of accidents as a result. Despite the fact that he can still get bad-mannered, cheeky, and cynical, his behavior has greatly improved and he became a much nicer, respectable, more useful locomotive. His exact origins are unknown, but he did once work in a factory, according to Peter Sam. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Douglas.

He arrived in the book The Little Old Engine.

Ivo Hugh (Number 7)[]

Ivo Hugh (No. 7) is named after Ivo Hugh, the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Skarloey Railway and Rusty's driver. He is an 0-4-2T, and is the Skarloey Railway's newest engine, built in 1996. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Tom Rolt.

He was built in 1996 in the Skarloey Railway's workshops, at Crovan's Gate.

He first appeared in New Little Engine.

Duke (Number 8)[]

Duke (No. 8) is named after The Duke of Sodor. He is an 0-4-0STT, who originally worked on the Mid Sodor Railway under the same name. His equivalent engine on the Ffestiniog Railway is Prince, one of the four engines in the Ffestiniog Railway's 'Small England class'.

He was built in 1879 for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway. He was named 'The Duke', after the Duke of Sodor. This name was later shortened to simply "Duke".

He first appeared in Duke the Lost Engine.

Fred (Number 9)[]

Fred (No. 9) is the railway's second diesel engine. His equivalent engine on the Talyllyn Railway is Alf. Very little is said about him, apart from that Rusty once pulled a weedkiller train for him.

He first appeared in New Little Engine. He was built in 1996.

Arlesdale Railway[]

The Arlesdale Railway is Sodor's smallest railway. It is based on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in Cumbria. It is run by Mr. Fergus Duncan (The Small Controller). Five engines appear in the books. Three more are mentioned in the companion books.


Mike The Miniature Engine is a 2-8-2 Mikado type who lived and worked on an unnamed railway on the mainland with Rex and Bert until it closed. He is based on the Ravenglass & Eskdale's River Mite. He was built in 1966 and arrived on Sodor after one year on the mainland. He first appeared in Small Railway Engines along with Rex and Bert. He is painted red and has a bad temper.


Rex The Miniature Engine is a 2-8-2 Mikado type who lived and worked on an unnamed railway on the mainland with Mike and Bert until it closed. He has a charismatic personality and boasts about how easy his duties are. His Ravenglass & Eskdale equivalent is River Esk. He was built by Davey Paxman in 1923. He is painted green and went into mishaps including colliding with a truck carrying wool and blowing his valve gears.


Bert The Miniature Engine is a 0-8-2 River Irt type who lived and worked on an unnamed railway on the mainland with Mike and Rex until it closed. He is a neurotic engine who has traction problems and was once scolded for getting two Clergymen wet after he got covered in mud. His equivalent is River Irt. He is painted blue and was using glue for fixing a coupler after it broke.


Jock The New Engine is a 2-6-2 Prairie type who was built by the Arlesdale Railway due to a shortage of power. He went through trials when still unnamed. The Small Controller tried coming up with names for him but he gave up. Douglas came and found the engine's paint scheme to be similar to the Highland Railway engines. He suggested the name Jock in reference to the Highland engines. He later pulled a doubleheader with Mike. To the red engine's annoyance Jock boasted about his strength. He was built in 1976 and is painted yellow. He first appeared in Jock The New Engine. He is based on Northern Rock.


Frank The Diesel is a 0-4-4 diesel hydraulic engine who lives and works on the Arlesdale Railway. He is a grumpy engine who can lose his temper. This leads him to cause chaos. He once complained when he didn't appear in a book he pushed into a buffer and crashed to the back of the shed. The Small Controller scolded Frank for his ineptitude and sent him out. He later rescued Rex when his valve gears blew. He is painted gray and has only appeared once. He is based on Perkins.

Privately owned[]

The Little Blue Tank Engine[]

The Little Blue Tank Engine is a 0-2-2 tank engine who appeared in the book James The Red Engine. He was rude and nasty and laughed at James about the bootlace.

Bill and Ben (Sodor China Clay company numbers 1 & 2)[]

Bill (No.1) and Ben (No.2) are twin 0-4-0ST engines who work for the Sodor China Clay Co.. They are painted dark orange with red lining, and both have Saddle tanks which cover their smokeboxes, but not their Fireboxes. They have 'SCC' painted in yellow on their Saddle tanks, and underneath are their names on brown nameplates; their numbers are painted on their smokeboxes, under 'Brendam Bay'. Apart from their nameplates and numbers, they are absolutely identical — which can be confusing to engines who don't know them well. They are smaller than the other engines they work with. They were built in 1948 and arrived on Sodor sometime in the 1960s.

Bill & Ben are based on Alfred and Judy, two engines built by Bagnall's of Stafford, who worked at Par, Cornwall. They are unusually low, allowing them to fit under bridges that taller engines could not. Alfred and Judy are both preserved at the Bodmin and Wenford Railway.

Bill & Ben first appeared in the book Main Line Engines and played a major role in Thomas and the Twins.

Glynn (Tidmouth Knapford & Elsbridge Railway number 1)[]

Glynn is a 0-4-0 vertical boiler Coffee Pot engine who lived and worked on the Tidmouth Knapford & Elsbridge Railway. He and the others all had vertical boilers and were designed for work on the line that would evolve to Thomas's Branch Line.

Mavis (Ffarquar Quarry company)[]

Mavis the Quarry Diesel is a 6wDM shunting engine. She belongs to the Ffarquhar Quarry Co., and works mainly shunting stone trucks in their quarry.[citation needed] She sometimes brings Toby's trucks down the line when he is busy. She is painted black, with yellow-and-black "hazard" stripes on her radiator and cab back. Mavis is based on a BR Class 04, some of which were fitted with the sideplates and cow-catcher for use on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, the same line that Toby came from. She was built by the Drewry Car Company [6] and arrived on Sodor in 1962.

When she was young, she was convinced that she knew it all and that Toby with his worn-in rules and methods was a "fusspot", but discovered that sometimes there is nothing wrong with taking advice - ignoring Toby's advice on truck-management-skills brought Mavis to a literal standstill at a level crossing near Ffarquhar where iced rails allowed the trucks to turn the tables on her. To Mavis' indignation rescue came in the form of 'fusspot' Toby. However the two became friends when she rescued him from a collapsing bridge. She is now allowed to come down the line from time to time, and is a useful addition to the branch line.

She first appeared in the book Tramway Engines. She was named after the Rev W. Awdry's neighbour in Rodborough, Stroud.

Non-rail vehicle characters[]


Terence is a tractor who was first seen in 'Thomas, Terence and the Snow' in the book Tank Engine Thomas Again (1949). He can go "anywhere" thanks to his caterpillar tracks and once famously helped Thomas out of a snowdrift. He was built in 1934. He is based on a Caterpillar Model 70.


Bertie is the friendly bus that first appears in the story in which he rescues Thomas' passengers whilst in a snow drift, and has his most famous adventure when he challenges Thomas to a race. He often talks to Thomas and takes his passengers to their homes at the end of the day. He is based on the Leyland Tiger.


Trevor is a traction engine who was rescued in the story 'Saved from Scrap' and spends most of his time working in the orchard alongside Edward's branch line. He is used for all sorts of odd jobs. Edward often stops to talk to him on his journey. Trevor's favorite thing to do is to take children for rides in the orchard. He is based on the William Foster & Co. Traction Engine No. 14593 '


Harold is a friendly helicopter to The Railway Series characters, although they share a friendly rivalry. He is best known for the famous race between him and Percy. He is owned by the Island's coastguard and lives at Dryaw Airfield. He is white and has red stripes. He was built in 1949 and appears in 1956. He is based on the Sikorsky S-55.


George is a spiteful steamroller who despises railways and what they stand for. This character first appeared in 'Steam Roller' in the book Gallant Old Engine He tried to flatten rails and turn them into roads. He once raced Sir Handel who had wide wheels. He also challenged Daisy to a race. He is based on an Aveling Barford R class steamroller.


Caroline is a car who appears in the story 'Train Stops Play'. She spends most of her time transporting cricket players to and from the fields. She lives on the Elsbridge Cricket Fields. She went after Stepney after a cricket ball fell in one of his trucks. She is based on a Morris Oxford Bluenose Saloon.


Bulgy is a rude bus. He is a member of the Anti Rail League. He tries to steal passengers from Oliver's train. He famously gets wedged under a low clearance bridge when Oliver celebrates his defeat. He later gets turned into a chicken coop. He is based on the famous London double decker buses.

Human characters[]

The Fat Controller[]

Sir Topham Hatt (better known as The Fat Controller or The Fat Director), is the head of the main rail company on Sodor. He is a firm but fair leader for whom the engines have the greatest respect.

The Owner[]

Sir Handel Brown (better known as The Owner) is the head of the Skarloey Railway. He is the namesake of the railway's #3 engine. He has other businesses to attend to and is rarely seen in person. So Mr. Peter Sam (The Thin Controller) runs the railway.

The Thin Controller[]

Mr. Peter Sam (better known as The Thin Controller) is the vice president of the Skarloey Railway. He is the namesake of the railway's #4 engine. He is well respected by the engines.


  1. ^ "W. Awdry Dies". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. 23 March 1997. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  2. ^ Sibley, Brian (1995). The Thomas the Tank Engine Man. London: Heinemann. pp. 272–5. ISBN 0-434-96909-5.
  3. ^ The Rev. W. Awdry; G Awdry (1987). The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways. Kaye & Ward. p. 126. ISBN 0-434-92762-7.
  4. ^ Awdry, Christopher (2005). Sodor, Reading Between the Lines. Sodor Enterprises. p. 9. ISBN 0-9549665-1-1.
  5. ^ a b Awdry, Christopher (2005). Sodor: Reading Between the Lines. Sodor Enterprises. p. 13. ISBN 0-9549665-1-1.
  6. ^ "The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway: Toby and Mavis". lner.info. LNER. Retrieved November 5, 2017.

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