The Three Railway Engines

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

The Three Railway Engines is the first book in The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry. The following is a synopsis of the stories in this book.

The Three Railway Engines

Edward's Day Out

Edward, a little blue engine, lives in a shed with five other engines. He hasn't been let out for quite a while. One day, the Driver and Fireman let him come out and pull a train. He has a lot of fun. At the station, Edward is picking up passengers and is forced to wait for the guard, who is running late. The guard soon arrives, and Edward starts off. When he gets back home, the Driver and Fireman promise Edward that he can go out again tomorrow.

Edward and Gordon

Gordon, an engine who lives in the same shed as Edward, is boasting about how fast he is when pulling the express. Later that day, Edward is shunting in the yard and sees Gordon come by with a Goods Train. Soon after, a porter informs Edward's driver and fireman that Gordon got stuck going up a hill. Edward helps Gordon up the hill, but Gordon forgets to thank Edward. At the next station, Edward's Driver and Fireman give Edward a good drink, and promise him a new coat of blue with red stripes.

The Sad Story of Henry

An engine named Henry is afraid of the rain messing up his coat of green paint and red stripes, so he stops in a tunnel and refuses to come out. His Driver and Fireman and the passengers all try to make him come out, but he doesn't. Soon, a very well-dressed gentleman known as the Fat Director tells the passengers to pull Henry out. When that doesn't work, he tells them to push Henry from the other end. He doesn't help either time, as his doctor has forbidden it. Soon, another engine tries to push Henry out, but he won't move. In the end, the Fat Director gives up and has some platelayers take away Henry's rails and build a wall so Henry can't get out.

Edward, Gordon, and Henry

Gordon is being boastful about how fast he can go again. As he is pulling the express, he bursts his safety valve, and must stop outside the tunnel where Henry is shut up. The Fat Director, who was on-board Gordon's train, tells the guard to get Edward to help. Gordon says that Edward will be no good. Edward comes, but he can't pull the train. Gordon suggest letting Henry try. The Fat Director agrees, and has the platelayers put the rails back and destroy the wall. Henry comes out of the tunnel feeling very stiff, after a few minutes, though, he feels better. Together, Edward and Henry pull the express. At the last station, the Fat Director tells them how proud he is of them, and promises Henry a new coat of blue with red stripes. On thier way home, Edward and Henry help Gordon to the sheds. All three are good friends, and Henry knows that he should ask his Driver to rub him down when his work is over, rather than running into tunnels.

New Characters

  • Edward
  • Gordon
  • Henry
  • The Fat Director


  • The engine brought in to push Henry's train in The Sad Story of Henry bears a remarkable resemblance to James – both are red 2-6-0 tender locos – although James is not introduced until book 2, and not painted red until his own book (no. 3 in the series).
  • William Middleton was the illustrator for the first edition of this book. But, Rev. Awdry was unhappy with Middleton's toy-like depictions of the engines. All subsequent copies of this book were done by C. Reginald Dalby.

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Book series: The Railway Series
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List of Railway Series Books
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Movie and spin-off releases: Thomas and the Magic RailroadCalling All EnginesOn Site with ThomasThe Great DiscoveryHero of the RailsMisty Island RescueDay of the DieselsBlue Mountain MysteryKing of the Railway

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