Railway Series book No. 3: James the Red Engine

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

James the Red Engine is the third book in The Railway Series of children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry. Although James first appears at the end of Book 2 in the series, this is where his character is properly introduced.

James the Red Engine

James and the Top-Hat

James has returned from being mended. He has better brakes and a coat of red paint. The Fat Director (now called the Fat Controller) tells James that he is a special mixed-traffic engine, and can pull coaches and trucks equally well. James and Edward are told to pull coaches. James is so excited that he accidently lets off steam, making the Fat Controller's hat get wet. He and Edward leave the station quickly. At the first station, the two engines over-run the platform and have to back up. It seems that no-one knows what happened to the Fat Controller's top-hat. When they get to the next station, James speaks with Thomas for a moment. Thomas is happy that James is feeling better. Edward and James pass the field where James crashed. When they get to the last station, Edward and James laugh about the time that Gordon got stuck up a hill. James laughs so much that he gets the hiccoughs, scaring an old lady who drops her luggage. They both had a very good day. But that night, James worries about what the Fat Controller will say about his hat.

James and the Bootlace

The Fat Controller is very cross about the hat incident of the previous day. He threatens to paint James in blue. This makes James very cross, and he is very rough with the coaches. He bumps them all around. When he gets to the next station, no-one wants to come near him. Soon, he starts going again. But he goes so fast and so roughly that the coaches force him to stop. After some examination, James' driver says that James banged the coaches around so much that he made the pipes leak. The driver, fireman, and guard decide that they should mend it with a bootlace and some newspaper. They find a passenger named Jeramiah Jobling and ask him for his leather bootlaces. He refuses. The rest of the passengers tell Mr. Jobling what a bad man he was. Finally, he gives over his laces, and the train starts again. But James is a much sadder and wiser engine, and promises never to bump coaches again.

Troublesome Trucks

James has been locked up in the sheds for several days. Finally, the Fat Controller lets him out, as long as he promises to be good. James is then told that he must take a load of trucks. In the yard, a tank engine teases James about the bootlace incident. James starts pulling the trucks, but they try to annoy him by putting their brakes on. As he's going up Gordon's hill, the last ten trucks uncouple from James' train and run down the hill. James has to go back and get them. He does so, and runs as hard as he can until he gets over the hill. When he gets to the last station, Edward and the Fat Controller is waiting for him. James is worried about what the Fat Controller will say. But, the Fat Controller says that James has made the most troublesome trucks on the line behave and that he deserves to keep his red paint.

James and the Express

Gordon and Henry tease James about having to use bootlaces to mend his train. James tries to get them back by teasing Henry about being shut up in a tunnel, and Gordon about being stuck on a hill, but they don't listen. Gordon boasts about being the only engine strong enough to pull the express, that he knows the line by instinct. Next morning, Gordon has James shunt his coaches. James would love to pull the express. Gordon leaves with his train, and James does some more shunting. A little while later, Gordon comes in, trying not to be noticed. He had been switched from the main line onto a loop, and had to come back to the station. James teases Gordon about knowing the line by instinct. The Fat Controller asks James to pull the express, and James is more than happy to. He does very well. Everyone is pleased by how well James did. The Fat Controller tells James he can pull the express again sometime. James returns to the yard to find Gordon pushing trucks. Gordon says that together, he and James can teach the trucks some manners. The two have stopped teasing each other, and are good friends. Gordon lets James pull the express sometimes, and never speaks of bootlaces. And they both agree that the trucks are very, very rude.

New Characters

  • Jeremiah Jobling – who doesn't appear in any other stories


  • From now on, the Fat Director is referenced to as the Fat Controller.
  • From this book onward, James' paint is red. In his first appearence in Thomas the Tank Engine, he was black.

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