This list consists all of the Railway Series books by both the Rev. W. Awdry and his son Christopher.


The Rev. W. Awdry Era

The first 26 books in the series were written by Rev. W. Awdry, who is sometimes mistakenly identified as the sole writer.

The Three Railway Engines

  • Book no. 1
  • Published in May 1945
  • Illustrated by William Middleton, later by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Edward’s Day Out
  • Edward and Gordon
  • The Sad Story of Henry
  • Edward, Gordon and Henry

This is the first book in the Railway Series, and introduces the central characters of Edward the Blue Engine, Henry the Green Engine, Gordon the Big Engine and the Fat Director.


  • These stories were famously first told to the young Christopher Awdry when he was in bed with measles in 1943, but due to wartime conditions were not published until 1945.
  • These stories were not originally intended to take place in a single volume, or even on the same railway. Edward, Gordon and Henry was written at the insistence of the publishers, Edmund Ward & Co, to bring the three characters together and to create a happy ending.
  • The stories were originally illustrated by William Middleton, and Awdry was extremely unhappy with the toylike depictions of his characters. When C. Reginald Dalby became the main Railway Series illustrator, he redrew Middleton’s illustrations, and it is this version that remains in print.

Thomas the Tank Engine

  • Book no. 2
  • Published 1946
  • Illustrated by Reginald Payne and C. Reginald Dalby


  • Thomas and Gordon
  • Thomas’ Train
  • Thomas and the Trucks
  • Thomas and the Breakdown Train

Thomas is a small tank engine who works at a big station fetching coaches for the big engines, but who longs for greater things. Unfortunately, his efforts at achieving these greater things tend to go wrong. But ultimately, after showing that he can be a useful engine following an accident, he is rewarded with his own branch line.


  • First appearances of Thomas and James (who is painted black with red lining).
  • Annie and Clarabel also appear in the illustrations, but they are not named.
  • The big station is not identified within the text, but is in fact Vicarstown.
  • The Fat Director makes his return appearance in this book, and has changed from a pompous figure of fun to a more fatherly character.

C. Reginald Dalby is often erroneously identified as the illustrator of this volume. In fact, the original artist was Reginald Payne, and Dalby merely modified the original illustrations for later editions.

James the Red Engine

  • Book no. 3
  • Published 1948
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • James and the Top Hat
  • James and the Bootlace
  • Troublesome Trucks
  • James and the Express

James has recently been repainted bright red, and is eager to show off. Unfortunately, he is also careless, and gets into a lot of trouble. But by making some troublesome trucks behave and by pulling the Express well, he proves himself.


  • The Fat Director is renamed the Fat Controller in this book. This is because, like most railways in Great Britain, this railway had just been Nationalised and was now part of British Railways.
  • First appearance of James in his red paint.
  • This was the first volume to be illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby from first publication.
  • Thomas makes a brief cameo in the first story, and although in the previous book he had been depicted as having a number, he has none here. It can be assumed that Dalby left it out to maintain continuity, as none of the other engines had numbers at this point.
  • Rev. W. Awdry often said that this was his least favourite book, as it had been written in a hurry to meet a deadline rather than purely from inspiration.

Tank Engine Thomas Again

  • Book no. 4
  • Published 1949
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Thomas and the Guard
  • Thomas Goes Fishing
  • Thomas, Terence and the Snow
  • Thomas and Bertie

This book concerns the adventures Thomas has on his branch line, with the bigger engines relegated to cameo appearances. Thomas leaves his guard behind by mistake, he accidentally goes fishing thanks to a broken water column and a bucket of river water, he gets stuck in the snow and he has a race with Bertie the Bus.


  • First appearances of Bertie the Bus and Terence the Tractor.
  • Annie and Clarabel are named for the first time in this book.
  • The bridge that appears in Thomas Goes Fishing is based on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s bridge at Maidenhead.
  • Henry’s brief appearance in the book caused a great deal of trouble for Rev. W. Awdry, as Dalby depicted him as looking identical to Gordon. The author received several complaints, and developed a stock answer to explain the problem – that Henry had been repaired using Gordon’s spare parts.

Troublesome Engines

  • Book no. 5
  • Published 1950
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Henry and the Elephant
  • Tenders and Turntables
  • Trouble in the Shed
  • Percy Runs Away

The big engines (Gordon, James and Henry) are cross. Since Thomas left, they feel overworked, and some embarrassing incidents for all three of them lead them to go on strike. The Fat Controller addresses the problem by buying a new engine to do the shunting.


  • First appearance of the popular character Percy the Small Engine. Rev. W. Awdry was unhappy with Dalby’s depiction of the character, which he felt did not look like a real engine. This would cause further friction between the author and the illustrator later on.
  • Henry appears in green for the first time since the end of Three Railway Engines, at the end of which he had been painted blue.
  • The central theme of this book reflects the fact that, at the time when the book was written, there were labour difficulties on the real British Railways.

Henry the Green Engine

  • Book no. 6
  • Published 1951
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Coal
  • The Flying Kipper
  • Gordon’s Whistle
  • Percy and the Trousers
  • Henry’s Sneeze

Henry has been having a lot of problems. He cannot steam properly, and so is often ill. The Fat Controller tries to solve the problem with Welsh coal. When Henry has an accident, the Fat Controller decides to solve the problems once and for all by sending Henry to Crewe Works. Henry returns with a new shape and a much better outlook on life, and enjoys a number of adventures with the other engines.


  • This was the only book to feature five stories instead of the usual four.
  • This book was largely written due to the fact that Rev. W. Awdry was unhappy with C. Reginald Dalby’s depiction of Henry. It was inconsistent and often looked identical to Gordon. By having the character rebuilt, this problem was solved.
  • This was the first book in which all the engines carried numbers. Previously, only Thomas had worn a number.
  • The story Henry’s Sneeze was to cause problems for Awdry, due to the fact that it described some soot-covered boys as being “as black as n******.” In 1972, complaints were made about the use of the term. Despite initially resisting, Awdry was convinced to make the change by a parent who wrote to him on the subject. The line was changed in subsequent editions to “as black as soot”.

Toby the Tram Engine

  • Book no. 7
  • Published 1952
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Toby and the Stout Gentleman
  • Thomas in Trouble
  • Dirty Objects
  • Mrs Kyndley’s Christmas

Toby the Tram Engine and his coach Henrietta are upset. He has had fewer and fewer passengers lately, and his railway in East Anglia is closing down. Meanwhile, Thomas is having trouble with the police – by travelling to the quarry without a cowcatcher and sideplates to cover his wheels, he is breaking the law. The Fat Controller realises that there is a solution. While on holiday, he met a tram engine called Toby…


  • First appearances of Toby, Henrietta, Mrs Kyndley, Stephen and Bridget. Stephen, seen in this book as a child, would become the third Fat Controller by the time of Really Useful Engines.
  • The character of Toby was inspired by a similar engine seen shunting at Great Yarmouth by Rev. W. and Christopher Awdry.

Gordon the Big Engine

  • Book no. 8
  • Published 1953
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Off the Rails
  • Leaves
  • Down the Mine
  • Paint Pots and Queens

Gordon the Big Engine has an accident through being lazy and careless, and so is taken off passenger train duties. He helps the other engines out when they get into trouble, and is eventually judged to be sensible enough to pull the Royal Train.


Edward the Blue Engine

  • Book no. 9
  • Published 1954
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Cows!
  • Bertie’s Chase
  • Saved from Scrap
  • Old Iron

Edward is old, and long overdue for an overhaul. However, in this book, he shows that he is far from useless, and can teach the bigger engines a thing or two!


Four Little Engines

  • Book no. 10
  • Published 1955
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Skarloey Remembers
  • Sir Handel
  • Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady
  • Old Faithful

This book features the first appearance of the Skarloey Railway, and introduces four new engines – Skarloey, Rheneas, Peter Sam and Sir Handel, together with the Thin Controller. Rheneas is away being mended, and the Skarloey Railway has recently acquired Peter Sam and Sir Handel. Peter Sam is naïve but well-meaning, but Sir Handel is rude and arrogant. Skarloey shows Sir Handel how to do things when he rescues the pompous engine’s train.


  • This book was written at the suggestion of L. T. C. Rolt and was based upon the Talyllyn Railway, at which Rev. W. Awdry was a volunteer.
  • The Rolling Stock introduced are Agnes, Jemima, Ruth and Lucy the coaches and Beatrice the guard's van.
  • The story Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady was inspired directly by an incident when the refreshment lady was left behind on the Talyllyn Railway. Except that in that case, it was the fault of the guard – who was none other than the Rev. W. Awdry himself!
  • Adults were concerned about the book; they thought the personality of Peter Sam might cause negative effects on children and cause them to fail their 11+ Exam in later-life.

Percy the Small Engine

  • Book no. 11
  • Published 1956
  • Illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby


  • Percy and the Signal
  • Duck Takes Charge
  • Percy and Harold
  • Percy’s Promise

The Fat Controller obtains a new engine to do shunting work, and so Percy the Small Engine is sent to work with Thomas and Toby on their branch line. He meets Harold the Helicopter and saves the day during a flood.

  • First appearances of Duck and Harold the Helicopter.
  • This was the last volume to be illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby. Rev. W. Awdry did not like the way Dalby portrayed Percy, saying that he made the engine look like “a green caterpillar with red stripes”. Outraged, Dalby resigned from the Railway Series after this book. Brian Sibley notes that, despite the friction between author and illustrator, Dalby’s work in this volume can be ranked among his best.

The Eight Famous Engines


  • Percy Takes the Plunge
  • Gordon Goes Foreign
  • Double Header
  • The Fat Controller’s Engines

The Fat Controller’s engines—Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby, and Duck—have become famous through their appearances in books and on the radio. While the engines enjoy a number of adventures and misadventures, the Fat Controller arranges for them to go to London.


  • Although no new regular characters appear in this book, it features the first appearance of engines from The Other Railway, namely: Jinty, Pug, and the Big City Engine.
  • This was the first book to be illustrated by John T. Kenney, who enjoyed a far better working relationship with Rev. W. Awdry than his predecessor. Although his illustrations are not as well remembered as Dalby’s, they are far more technically accurate.
  • Rev. W. Awdry had intended this as a possible final book in the series. He considered using the title "The Fat Controller's Engines", a title that would later almost be used by Christopher Awdry in the 39th book of the series.
  • Beatrice makes an appearance in the last illustration of Double Header.

Duck and the Diesel Engine

  • Book no. 13
  • Published 1958
  • Illustrated by John T. Kenney


  • Domeless Engines
  • Pop Goes the Diesel
  • Dirty Work
  • A Close Shave

Duck the Great Western Engine has settled in well on the Island of Sodor, so much so that the other engines are getting a little tired of his know-it-all attitude. They are pleased when a smooth-talking diesel engine – simply known as Diesel – arrives to help out. When Duck shows him up, Diesel vows revenge, and starts spreading malicious lies about Duck. Luckily, the Fat Controller has a plan to clear Duck’s name…


  • This was the first book to feature a real engine. City of Truro is a visitor to Sodor and, being an engine from the Great Western Railway, soon makes friends with Duck.
  • This is the first appearance of Diesel, and the only one within the Railway Series itself.
  • There is believed to be a subtle in-joke at the beginning of the book, in the first illustration. A vicar and a man in a bow tie are seen looking at Duck. Brian Sibley suggests that these men are supposed to be Rev. W. Awdry and C. Reginald Dalby.
  • This is the first book to feature a diesel engine. The character was introduced at the suggestion of series editor Eric Marriott, who suggested that Awdry should introduce a diesel character to keep the series up-to-date. At the time, diesels were being increasingly used on British Railways, and would eventually come to supersede steam.

The Little Old Engine

  • Book no. 14
  • Published 1959
  • Illustrated by John T. Kenney


  • Trucks
  • Home at Last
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Little Old Twins

More adventures on the Skarloey Railway. Skarloey returns from being repaired to discover that there are two new engines on the railway. Rusty the diesel is friendly and helpful, but Duncan is boisterous, careless and rude. Sir Handel is still his old self. A television crew comes to film a documentary on the railway, and Skarloey tells them about the Talyllyn Railway.


  • First appearances of Duncan, Rusty and Talyllyn.
  • The documentary being filmed on the Skarloey Railway is very reminiscent of a documentary filmed on the Talyllyn Railway.
  • Rolling Stock introduced- Ada, Jane and Mable the open coaches, Gertrude and Millicent the express coaches and Cora the brake van.

The Twin Engines

  • Book no. 15
  • Published 1960
  • Illustrated by John T. Kenney


  • ”Hullo Twins”
  • The Missing Coach
  • Break Van
  • The Deputation

The Fat Controller orders an engine from Scotland to help out with goods work, but is surprised when two engines arrive instead. To confuse matters further, the engines claim not to know their British Railways numbers, or which of them should have been sent. The engines are Donald and Douglas, and are twins. As whichever one of them is sent back will be scrapped, they are determined to stay. Despite some misadventures, the other engines convince the Fat Controller to keep both of them.


  • First appearances of Donald and Douglas, and only appearance of the Spiteful Brake Van.
  • This book is the first to allude to the threat of scrapping faced by steam engines on British Railways.
  • Gordon's Express is given a name in this book. It is called "the Wild Nor' Wester", an allusion to the fact that the Fat Controller's railway was properly known as the North Western Region at this time. This was the first time that the name of the railway had been used in the books, and it reappears later in the form of the initials "NW" on the Spiteful Brakevan.

Branch Line Engines

  • Book no. 16
  • Published 1961
  • Illustrated by John T. Kenney


  • Thomas Comes to Breakfast
  • Daisy
  • Bulls’ Eyes
  • Percy’s Predicament

Thomas has an accident and has to be sent to the Works. The Fat Controller orders a diesel railcar named Daisy to help out in his absence. Daisy is convinced she knows it all, and decides that she is only going to do the work she wants. After a stern talking to and an accident by Percy, she is allowed to stay, a wiser engine.


  • First appearance of Daisy, who is the first regular diesel character (since Diesel), and the first female engine in the books.
  • The events of this book must take place soon after those of The Twin Engines, as Donald and Douglas are seen with their old black paint in a cameo appearance (they decided to be repainted blue at the end of that book).
  • Thomas' crash into the Stationmaster's house, which takes place in the first story of this book, was partially intended to enable a long-standing illustrators' error to be corrected. Thomas' footplate originally curved down at the front, meaning that his buffers were lower at the front than at the back. When Thomas returns from the Works, his footplate is straight, and this modification is retained from this book onwards.
  • The top station on Thomas's branch line is shown in illustrations to be called Ffarquhar for the first time

Gallant Old Engine

  • Book no. 17
  • Published 1962
  • Illustrated by John T. Kenney


  • Special Funnel
  • Steamroller
  • Passengers and Polish
  • Gallant Old Engine

Peter Sam loses his funnel in an accident and gets a new one to improve his steaming. Sir Handel has been given new wheels, and gets into a fight with George the Steamroller. Duncan is jealous and feels overworked. Skarloey is shocked at his attitude, and tells the others about the time when Rheneas saved the railway. At the end of the book, Rheneas returns from his overhaul.


  • First appearance of George.
  • Although this is the third book set on the Skarloey Railway, it is the first to feature a story centring on Rheneas, who had been almost completely absent in the previous two volumes.
  • This was the final volume to be illustrated by John T. Kenney.
  • There is a blue car seen in one of the last illustrations of 'Steamroller' with a face. This was based upon John T. Kenney's own car, and its numberplate carries the letters "JTK".
  • This is the first time in the series where a coach comes off the rails, but the illustration for the page that mentions it just shows Duncan bringing Cora and the workmen over to the scene of the accident.

Stepney the “Bluebell” Engine

  • Book no. 18
  • Published 1963
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Bluebells of England
  • Stepney’s Special
  • Train Stops Play
  • Bowled Out

Percy is upset to hear that steam engines on the Other Railway are being scrapped, and so he is glad when he hears that the Bluebell Railway has saved a number of them. Stepney, from the Bluebell Railway, comes to visit and soon makes friends with the engines, even teaching a boastful visiting diesel a lesson or two.


  • This is the first book to centre on a real engine, and was intended to promote the Bluebell Railway. Other Bluebell engines besides Stepney are referred to and appear in the pictures for Stepney's Special. These included Bluebell, Primrose and Captain Baxter. “Adams” and “Cromford” were names applied by Awdry to the Bluebell Railway’s Adams Radial Tank and North London Railway tank engine respectively.
  • This book also features the first and only appearances of “the Diesel” and Caroline the car.
  • The second illustration in the book depicts a group of Victorian locomotives being cut up for scrap. This was actually inspired by Peter Edwards’ cover illustration for Graham Greene’s novel A Gun for Sale, which featured a chase on a railway siding.
  • Percy's claim that the Controllers on British Railways are cruel and "don't like engines" is a reference to the Modernisation Plan, under which steam locomotives were to be replaced by diesel and electric traction. Rev. W. Awdry notes in the foreword that Percy is mistaken, and that the Controllers had been very helpful in preserving steam locomotives. Indeed, it is worth noting that several of the Bluebell Railway's engines had only been saved thanks to the intervention of such Controllers.

Mountain Engines

  • Book no. 19
  • Published 1964
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Mountain Engine
  • Bad Look-out
  • Danger Points
  • Devil’s Back

The Skarloey Railway engines meet Culdee, a strange-looking engine who climbs a mountain. He tells them all about his railway, and the tragic story of Godred, before returning home. At home, he meets the reckless Lord Harry, who causes trouble through his risk-taking. But when a climber runs into trouble, Lord Harry has an opportunity to redeem himself…


  • This is the first and only book to feature the Culdee Fell Railway (known within the stories as the Mountain Railway). Despite this, the characters remain popular among fans. See the article on the railway for details of engines and rolling stock.
  • The Culdee Fell Railway is based on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, and like many of the Railway Series volumes, was written partly as a promotional device.
  • Christopher Awdry has written that the reason there have been no new books set on the Mountain Railway is that the limited traffic and stringent safety precautions make it difficult to find suitable material for realistic stories set there.

Very Old Engines

  • Book no. 20
  • Published 1965
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Crosspatch
  • Bucking Bronco
  • Stick-in-the-Mud
  • Duck and Dukes

It is 1965, and Skarloey and Rheneas are getting ready to celebrate their 100th birthday. Skarloey tells Nancy and other friends the story of his early life on the Skarloey Railway. The engines enjoy a wonderful centenary party.


  • This book was inspired by the hundredth anniversary of the locomotives Talyllyn and Dolgoch, Skarloey and Rheneas’ real life “twins”. The first three stories are based on events from the early history of the Talyllyn Railway and one of the characters, Mr Bobbie, is actually a real life engineer from the company that built the engines.
  • This is the first, but not the last, book to be told mainly as a flashback. Skarloey narrates the stories Crosspatch and Bucking Bronco, while Rheneas narrates Stick-in-the-Mud.
  • This book features a number of cameo appearances by Neil, an engine from the Sodor & Mainland Railway.
  • There are several mentioning to this book in book 25 'Duke The Lost Engine.'

Main Line Engines

  • Book no. 21
  • Published 1966
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • The Dieseasel
  • Buzz Buzz
  • Wrong Road
  • Edward’s Exploit

More adventures for the engines of the Fat Controller’s Railway. Readers are introduced to Bill and Ben the tank engine twins, and a new diesel named BoCo arrives. Gordon and James both run into trouble, but Edward surprises everyone by getting a train home despite breaking down.


  • First appearances of Bill, Ben and BoCo.
  • Despite the book’s title, much of the book actually takes place on Edward’s branch line.
  • The characters of Bill and Ben were inspired by Rev. W. Awdry’s visit to Par, Cornwall, where he saw a pair of tank engines named Alfred and Judy. Although the driver of these engines was “a crusty old fellow who did not like parsons" (Rev. W. Awdry, quoted in The Thomas the Tank Engine Man), Awdry was able to impress him with his railway knowledge, and was even allowed to drive.

Small Railway Engines

  • Book no. 22
  • Published 1967
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Ballast
  • Tit-for-Tat
  • Mike’s Whistle
  • Useful Railway

The Fat Controller has been using a special new kind of ballast, which Donald and Douglas say is brought by “verra wee engines”. Duck is intrigued, and goes to see what the fuss is about. He discovers a miniature railway with three small engines named Mike, Bert and Rex. The focus then shifts to the small engines themselves, and some of the adventures they have.


  • First appearance of the Arlesdale Railway, better known as the Small Railway, and its engines. This line is based closely on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in Cumbria. The names of the Arlesdale Railway engines are derived from their R&ER equivalents, which are named after three Cumbrian rivers, the Esk, the Irt and the Mite.
  • Also the first official appearance of the Thin Clergyman and the Fat Clergyman. These two are in fact Rev. W. Awdry and his friend, Rev. "Teddy" Boston.

Enterprising Engines

  • Book no. 23
  • Published 1968
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Tenders for Henry
  • Super Rescue
  • Escape
  • Little Western

Gordon is upset because steam has vanished from The Other Railway. To cheer him up, the Fat Controller brings his brother, Flying Scotsman to Sodor. Henry is jealous because of Flying Scotsman’s two tenders and is shown up by Duck, but comes to the rescue of two failed diesels. Meanwhile. Douglas saves a steam engine called Oliver and his train from scrap. The Fat Controller announces that Oliver can stay, along with the diesel engine D7101, and that he is reopening a branch line for Duck and Oliver. Furthermore, he announces that he will never, ever get rid of steam engines.


  • 1968 was the year when British Railways finally abolished steam, and this book reflected that.
  • This book introduces Oliver, Bear, Isabel and Toad. It features guest appearances by Flying Scotsman and D199.
  • This book also introduces Duck’s branch line, “the Little Western”.
  • Many fans believe that this book is the darkest in the series, with the mention of the end of steam.

Oliver the Western Engine

  • Book no. 24
  • Published 1969
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Donald’s Duck
  • Resource and Sagacity
  • Toad Stands By
  • Bulgy

Life is exciting on the Little Western. Duck and Donald play practical jokes on each other. Oliver loses the respect of the trucks after an accident, but regains it with the help of Toad. Finally, a lying bus is put in his place after trying to steal the railway’s passengers.


  • This book was originally to be called Little Western Engines, but the publishers wanted a book named after an engine. Rev. W. Awdry jokes in the foreword that if the attention goes to Oliver’s head, he will set the publishers on to him.
  • The Little Western is partly inspired by the Dart Valley Railway, according to the Foreword.
  • First and only appearances of Scruffey, Bulgy and Dilly the Duck.

Duke the Lost Engine

  • Book no. 25
  • Published 1970
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Granpuff
  • Bulldog
  • You Can’t Win!
  • Sleeping Beauty

Duke was an old engine who ran on the Mid Sodor Railway with Falcon and Stuart, who are better known nowadays as Sir Handel and Peter Sam. Despite his age, Duke was a useful engine, but when his line closed, nobody wanted to buy him and he was left behind in the engine shed. Over the following years, his shed was buried by a landslide and he was forgotten. The Fat Clergyman, the Thin Clergyman and the Small Controller led an expedition to find him, and eventually he is rescued and sent to live on the Skarloey Railway with his old friends.


Tramway Engines

  • Book no. 26
  • Published 1972
  • Illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards


  • Ghost Train
  • Woolly Bear
  • Mavis
  • Toby’s Tightrope

This book focuses on Thomas’ branch line. Percy plays a trick on Thomas, but later runs into trouble himself. Meanwhile, the quarry has bought a diesel called Mavis, who is very headstrong and thinks Toby is an old fusspot. She ignores his advice and hits trouble, but eventually comes to Toby’s rescue.


  • First appearance of Mavis.
  • In ‘Woolly Bear’, Thomas refers to Percy as “a green caterpillar with red stripes”. This insult actually dates back to the book Percy the Small Engine. Awdry had long been unhappy with C. Reginald Dalby’s depiction of Percy, describing it in exactly those terms.

Tramway Engines had been a struggle for Rev. W. Awdry, and he was finding it harder and harder to come up with ideas. Although he considered a 27th book, he decided to retire. It would be more than a decade before there would be any new Railway Series books.

The Christopher Awdry Era

Christopher Awdry, Rev. W. Awdry’s son, had some background in writing when he took the Railway Series over, having written a number of articles for Steam Railway magazine. He was inspired to write some Railway Series stories by a visit to the Nene Valley Railway, with encouragement from his father. The publishers were eager for new books, as the television adaptation was in production at the time, and Christopher Awdry became the new Railway Series author.

All of his books were illustrated by Clive Spong, an illustrator who, it was felt, could combine technical accuracy with the appealing, colourful style exemplified by C. Reginald Dalby.

Christopher Awdry wrote his first book in 1983, and 13 further books followed bewteen 1984 and 1996. No books were published between 1996 and 2007; book 40: New Little Engine, and the original books from The Railway Series went out-of-print. This was a source of friction between the Awdry family, series fans, and the publishers. However, in February 2007, unofficial reports from the publishers, Egmont, suggested that there were plans to put the whole series back into print, in the original format, and that a new Christopher Awdry book (called Thomas and Victoria) was expected to be published later in 2007. This book, number 41 in the series, was published in September 2007, being the first Railway Series book to be published in 11 years.

In addition, the fourteen original Christopher Awdry books have been put together into a large, "bumper" edition, in a vein similar to the master collection of Wilbert Awdry's stories.[citation needed]

Really Useful Engines

  • Book no. 27
  • Published 1983


  • Stop Thief!
  • Mind That Bike
  • Fish
  • Triple Header

This book unusually does not focus on any one area of the Fat Controller’s Railway. Thomas helps to arrest a car thief. Percy is able to help out a friend – by accident. Duck, acting as a helper for Henry, has an accident with the Flying Kipper thanks to a lamp falling off. Finally, all three tank engines get together to pull the Express when Gordon is ill.


  • Entirely by coincidence, Rev. W. Awdry’s planned 27th book was to be called Really Useful Engines.
  • The story ‘Triple Header’ was the first to be written, and was based upon an incident related to Christopher Awdry at the Nene Valley Railway. The real engine involved was a blue 0-6-0 tank engine called Thomas, which is now permanently disguised as its Railway Series namesake.
  • This book is dedicated to the Reverend Awdry.

James and the Diesel Engines

  • Book no. 28
  • Published 1984


  • Old Stuck-Up
  • Crossed Lines
  • Fire Engine
  • Deep Freeze

James is one of the only engines who still doesn’t trust diesels, which isn’t helped by the visit of a pompous diesel engine. He has a number of misadventures, but after a breakdown it is a diesel who helps him out, and he realises that diesel engines aren’t so bad after all.


Great Little Engines

  • Book no. 29
  • Published 1985


  • Patience is a Virtue
  • Peter Sam and the Prickly Problem
  • Pop Special
  • Sir Handel Comes Home

Duke has been mended and the Thin Controller sends Sir Handel to the Talyllyn Railway to help out while Talyllyn is being mended. While he is away, brambles and hot weather cause problems for the Skarloey Railway engines to solve. Sir Handel returns and tells them all about his adventures.


  • This book was inspired by the fact that the Talyllyn Railway had paid tribute to the Railway Series by repainting their engine No.3, Sir Haydn, to look like Sir Handel. Sir Handel’s adventures on the Talyllyn are simply retellings of real events that took place involving that engine.
  • The title alludes to “Great Little Trains”, a promotional campaign for the narrow gauge railways of Wales. The Talyllyn Railway was part of this campaign.

More About Thomas the Tank Engine

  • Book no. 30
  • Published 1986


  • Thomas, Percy and the Coal
  • The Runaway
  • Better Late than Never
  • Drip Tank

This is the third book to be named after Thomas. Thomas and Percy have an argument and fall out. Both Bertie and Harold the Helicopter make appearances as Harold has to help Thomas from a runaway, and Thomas helps Bertie after he breaks down. Finally, Percy rescues Thomas after an accident along the branch line.


  • This book is unique in the series, in that it was written especially in order that Britt Allcroft could adapt it for the television series. The stories were therefore written specifically to include popular characters like Harold and Bertie. Despite this, the story 'Drip Tank' was never used in the television series, and 'Thomas, Percy and the Coal' included some substantial differences in the adaptation.
  • Thomas calls Percy a "drip" in the story 'Drip Tank', an insult meaning "pathetic" or "useless". Christopher Awdry has said that he regrets using this, as the insult has virtually fallen out of use.
  • He has also expressed regret at the book's title, which he feels was unimaginative. He puts this down to the fact that the book was put together in a hurry for the television company.
  • The bridge that appears in the final illustration of this book appears again in Thomas Comes Home.
  • The cattle truck that Percy is shunting in "Drip Tank" is marked with the initials "N.E.", an abbreviation used by the London & North Eastern Railway for its freight stock.

Gordon the High Speed Engine

  • Book no. 31
  • Published 1987


  • High-Speed Gordon
  • Smokescreen
  • Fire Escape
  • Gordon Proves His Point

Gordon is jealous when Donald tells him about High Speed Trains on the Other Railway. He tries to copy them, but ends up slipping helplessly on the rails. He is then blamed for ruining wedding clothes with his smoke, and is well and truly in disgrace. But he manages to get the Express home after his fire collapses, and the Fat Controller forgives him. He also apologises – it transpires the spoiled wedding clothes weren’t Gordon's fault. He is then allowed to take a special train to Carlisle and a High Speed Train named Pip & Emma arrives to assist while he is away. At last, Gordon is allowed to show how fast he is.


  • First appearance of Pip and Emma, who would later return as a Royal Train in Thomas and the Fat Controller’s Engines and ultimately would be purchased by the Fat Controller.
  • Two diesels, numbered 31 120 and D10751, make appearances in the illustrations of this book.

Toby, Trucks and Trouble

  • Book no. 32
  • Published 1988


  • Mavis and the Lorry
  • Toby’s Seaside Holiday
  • Bulstrode
  • Toby Takes the Road

The engines who work at Ffarquhar quarry have a number of adventures. Mavis has an accident, and so Toby and Percy have to help out more than usual. Toby remembers an event from the days before he came to the Fat Controller’s Railway. The trucks manage to do a good turn when they accidentally put paid to a disagreeable barge named Bulstrode. Terence does the shunting for Percy and boasts about it, while adding that steam engines ploughed fields and ran on roads in the past. To add to that, on the day Mavis is due back from the Works, Toby has his first accident at the crossing and briefly runs on the road like Trevor.


  • First and final appearances of Bulstrode and the 'Old Engine'.
  • ’Toby’s Seaside Holiday’ is set in and around Yarmouth on the London & North Eastern Railway. As well as Toby himself, this story features an appearance by one of his brothers and two other engines from the old Great Eastern Railway.
  • This book was the first in the series not to include the word “Engine” in the title. Christopher Awdry has observed that while it is in some ways a shame to break with tradition, it has opened up greater possibilities for future book titles.
  • In 1990, Christopher Awdry wrote the annual story Hosepipes and Shunters to answer readers' questions on how Terence did the shunting for Percy and what was happening with Toby up at the quarry at the same time.

Thomas and the Twins

  • Book no. 33
  • Published 1989


  • Scrambled Eggs
  • What a Picture!
  • Trevor Helps Out
  • Down the Drain

Repair work on Thomas’ branch line means that Thomas is sent to help on Edward’s branch line, which means he has to work with Bill and Ben at the china clay pits. Although the twins tease him at first, he soon earns their respect.


Jock the New Engine

  • Book no. 34
  • Published 1990


  • We Need Another Engine
  • Sticking Power
  • Jock
  • Teamwork

The Small Railway is short of power, and the Small Controller decides that what they need is another engine. The Railway’s own workshops build a strong new engine called Jock, who at first thinks himself superior to the others. But the new engine eventually learns the value of teamwork, and all is forgiven.


  • First appearances of Jock and Frank.
  • Frank has an accident when he crashes into the back of the shed. This was inspired by an incident on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway involving the diesel “Perkins” which took place soon after the book Small Railway Engines was published. People working on the railway suggested that this accident was perhaps caused by the fact that Perkins was upset at not being included in the book.
  • The character of Jock was not actually created for this book. In fact, he was first mentioned in the book The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways – this was only the first book in which he put in an appearance.

Thomas and the Great Railway Show

  • Book no. 35
  • Published 1991


  • Museum Piece
  • Not the Ticket
  • Trouble on the Line
  • Thomas and the Railtour

Thomas is excited because the National Railway Museum at York have invited him to visit. He makes lots of new friends among the engines of the National Collection and has a few adventures along the way. He saves a train when he spots a landslide, and is made an honorary member of the National Collection.


  • This book was written at the request of the National Railway Museum.
  • This book features appearances by real locomotives Rocket, Iron Duke, Mallard, Duchess of Hamilton and Green Arrow. Boxhill, another member of the collection, is mentioned but not seen.
  • There are several references to guest characters from previous volumes. City of Truro and Flying Scotsman are both mentioned twice.
  • In Gordon the High Speed Engine, Gordon mentions that he has a cousin who went at 126 miles per hour – a reference to Mallard.
  • The reference to Flying Scotsman is particularly prescient - in 2004, Flying Scotsman was acquired by the National Railway Museum.
  • ’Trouble on the Line’ was originally intended as a rail safety story, but Christopher Awdry was unhappy with the final result, as the publishers had “watered down” the original story. It is not known how the original story would have run, but Awdry tantalisingly notes in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines that it reflected badly on crowd control at the National Railway Museum.
  • The Railway Series books are part of the National Railway Museum’s library. So in a sense, Thomas really is part of the National Collection.

Thomas Comes Home

  • Book no. 36
  • Published 1992


  • Snow Problem
  • Washout!
  • Toby’s Megatrain
  • Thomas Comes Home

While Thomas is away at the National Railway Museum, his branch is left in the care of Percy, Toby and Daisy. Daisy finds herself battling a snowstorm, Percy causes the bridge at Hackenbeck to collapse, and Toby takes more trucks than he can handle. On the day Thomas is due to come home, George leaves his cones at Dryaw Crossing, allowing one to stop Daisy. Nevertheless, everything goes smoothly until Thomas finally comes home.


  • The title of this book is somewhat misleading. Thomas himself does not appear until the final page.
  • The bridge at Hackenbeck first appeared in the final illustration of More About Thomas The Tank Engine.
  • There are plenty of flashbacks mentioned in this book. Daisy's driver recalls Thomas's snowdrift from Tank Engine Thomas Again, Percy recalls the flood from Percy The Small Engine, and Toby recalls Thomas's fishing adventure from Tank Engine Thomas Again, Mavis's accident with the lorry, and his roadway incident from Toby, Trucks, And Trouble.
  • Toby's Megatrain is an incident Toby relives from his past in the 1985 Annual story The Strawberry Special, in which Toby took 48 trucks and almost used up his water in doing so.
  • This book marks the second appearance of George.

Henry and the Express

  • Book no. 37
  • Published 1993


  • Out of Puff
  • Overhaul
  • Sliding Scales
  • Henry Sees Red

Henry is due for an overhaul. Other engines help with his duties while he is away (for example, James hauls The Flying Kipper). But when there is no engine to take the Express, Henry is called back early and proves once again that he is a "Really Useful Engine".


Wilbert the Forest Engine

  • Book no. 38
  • Published 1994


  • Percy’s Porridge
  • Cab Over Wheels
  • Foaming at the Funnel
  • Wired Up

Donald and Douglas are overworked. The Fat Controller arranges to borrow an engine called Wilbert from the Dean Forest Railway in Gloucestershire to help out.


  • Wilbert is a real engine. He is actually named after Rev. Wilbert Awdry, Christopher Awdry’s father and the creator of the Railway Series. Wilbert Awdry was President of the Dean Forest Railway.
  • Wilbert came to run tests, since the Fat Controller was considering purchasing an engine of his type.
  • This book had a follow-up, involving the new engine, but it has not been published. It is known as "Barry the Rescue Engine" but was put to one side for Thomas and the Fat Controller’s Engines.
  • This book also features the only appearance of Sixteen, a steelworks shunter on Wilbert's previous railway.
  • 'Percy's Porridge' was written with the help of the children of Abingdon School as part of an exercise in creative writing, and the book is dedicated to them.
  • This book marks the first appearance of Oliver since Oliver the Western Engine.

Thomas and the Fat Controller’s Engines

  • Book no. 39
  • Published 1995


  • Birdstrike
  • Edward and the Cabbages
  • Rabbits
  • Golden Jubilee

It is 50 years since the first Railway Series books were published, and the Fat Controller plans to celebrate this occasion with a party. Unfortunately, things do not go entirely smoothly in the run-up to the celebration. Gordon has an accident with some birds, Edward loses a wheel, Thomas is derailed by some rabbits and a spider's web shorts out the electrics in the signalbox at Knapford Junction. But everything works out well in the end, and Pip and Emma bring a Royal Personage to enjoy the day with the Fat Controller’s Engines.


  • This book was actually written to commemorate the very same anniversary the engines are celebrating in the stories.
  • The book was originally to be titled The Fat Controller’s Engines, but the publishers insisted on a Thomas link in the title.
  • The Royal Personage is not named, but it seems likely that it is Prince Charles.

New Little Engine

  • Book no. 40
  • Published 1996


  • Speedkiller
  • Sir Handel’s Plan
  • Dirty Water
  • I Name This Engine…

The Skarloey Railway needs another engine. The Thin Controller announces that a new one will be built. In the meantime, Peter Sam is sent to visit the Talyllyn Railway. The engine is finally completed, and the railway’s engineer, Mr Hugh, is to unveil the name. He is surprised to discover that the engine has been named Ivo Hugh – after himself!


  • First appearance of Ivo Hugh, Lizzie and Kathy. The railway’s second diesel engine, Fred, is mentioned but not seen.
  • Peter Sam’s visit commemorates the fact that the Talyllyn Railway again paid tribute to the Railway Series by repainting their engine, Edward Thomas, to look like Peter Sam.
  • The name Ivo Hugh comes as a tribute to Tom Rolt, even to the amount of letters in the names.

Thomas and Victoria

  • Book no. 41
  • Published in September 3, 2007


  • Overloaded
  • Avalanche
  • Eels on Wheels
  • Toby's Vintage Train

Toby and Henrietta are overcrowded carrying the workmen from the Quarry. Thomas finds the perfect solution when he meets Victoria – a lovely, old carriage. While Victoria is being renovated, she tells Edward a tale from the old days on the Furness Railway. Meanwhile, Daisy discovers that she doesn't like snakes very much when a whole boxful of eels escape on to the platform! And once finished, Victoria joins Toby and Henrietta as Sodor's Vintage Train.


  • First Railway Series book published in over 10 years (on 03 September 2007)
  • First appearance of Victoria, a blue Furness Railway 4-wheeled coach; Helena, another coach and Albert, a Furness Railway locomotive.
  • Henrietta is seen in this book with a small rectangular face on her door. This is the first instance in the books where Henrietta is seen with a face.

Thomas and his friends

  • Book no. 42
  • Published in 2011

Railway Series-related books

There have been several Railway Series-related books published which were written by the Awdrys, but which are not actually part of the Railway Series proper. Nonetheless, they complement the original books and are considered canon.

The Annuals

From 1979-1980 the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends annuals were written by Rev. W. Awdry, and from 1985-1996 by Christopher Awdry. They included several stories and articles about the characters. In some cases, these stories expanded upon earlier Railway Series books and in others they were entirely new. One, ‘The Strawberry Special’ in the 1985 Annual, was later rewritten and used in Thomas Comes Home.

A number of new characters were introduced in the annuals. Perhaps the most notable was Algy the Bus, a friend of Bertie’s.

Thomas’s Christmas Party

  • Published 1984
  • Written by Rev. W. Awdry
  • Illustrated by Clive Spong

A one-off story written especially for the television series – the only Rev. W. Awdry-authored story to be so written. The engines hold a special Christmas celebration for Mrs Kyndley.

Thomas Comes to Breakfast

  • Published 1985
  • Written by Rev. W. Awdry
  • Illustrated by Clive Spong

An expanded version of the first story from Branch Line Engines, which also summarises the remainder of that book.

Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree

  • Published 1986
  • Written by Christopher Awdry
  • Illustrated by Clive Spong

This story was also written for the television series, and was used in the second series. Thomas is sent to fetch a Christmas tree, but runs into a snowdrift. It is up to Donald and Douglas to save the day for him.


  • Because this book is a television tie-in, Donald and Douglas appear in black, as they do in the series. In the Railway Series, they had long since been painted blue. It is also notable that the only engines present at the Christmas celebrations are those who had been featured in the television series at that point – Bear, Oliver and Mavis are strangely absent.
  • The 'Works' Diesel appears briefly in this book, as the engine who brings the Christmas tree from the Other Railway.

Thomas and the Evil Diesel

  • Published 1987
  • Written by Christopher Awdry
  • Illustrated by Clive Spong

When Percy has to go to the Works for repairs, Diesel returns to Sodor and, as expected, causes trouble for the engines by destroying the oldest truck in Ffarqhuar Yards. But two days later, Thomas has an accident when Daisy drips her oil on the track and Clarabel's back wheels come off the rails at the special points at Dryaw, so Diesel comes to the rescue. It seems that even Diesel has some good in him somewhere.


  • In the USA, this book was published with the title Thomas and the Naughty Diesel.
  • This book marks Diesel's second visit to Sodor.
  • Diesel was the only engine available to come to Sodor in this book, a trend that Britt Allcroft would use in the TV series.
  • First and only appearance of the Oldest and Rudest Truck (later reappears as Truffey).
  • Second time a coach comes off the rails, and this time we see an illustration of it.
  • This is Clarabel's first accident.
  • Three of Clive Spong's illustrations from this book would be modified for the Railway Series books Thomas And The Great Railway Show, Thomas Comes Home, and Thomas And The Fat Controller's Engines.
  • The special points scenario of the book would inspire Christopher Awdry to write the 1991 Annual story Henry And The Trap Points, which would explain to readers why special points are important to the railway.

Thomas and the Hurricane

  • Published 1992
  • Written by Christopher Awdry
  • Illustrated by Stephen Lings

A hurricane hits Sodor, causing chaos for the engines.

Bad Days for Thomas and His Friends / More Bad Days for Thomas and His Friends

  • Published 2001
  • Written by Christopher Awdry
  • Illustrated by David Anderson

A pair of books written to highlight rail safety using characters from the Railway Series. They were written partially due to Christopher Awdry’s frustration at not being able to include a proper rail safety story in Thomas and the Great Railway Show.

Bad Days for Thomas and His Friends stories

  • New Paint for Annie and Clarabel - some boys are caught spraying graffiti around the station and on the two coaches.
  • A Near Miss for Daisy - some children on Thomas's branch line have been causing trouble throwing rocks at the trains and placing objects on the rails, one of which Daisy almost has a run-in with.
  • Lucy to the Rescue - A boy named Andrew is riding his bike along the railway when one of his tires gets stuck between two rail joints. His dog Lucy runs ahead and warns Thomas, who was approaching with a train.

More Bad Days for Thomas and His Friends stories

  • Toby and the Skateboarders - a boy has a near miss when he falls off the station platform while skateboarding near Toby.
  • Nearly an Unhappy Christmas - a girl named Alysha's new hat blows off and is stuck between some electric railway wires. An engine and his driver stop her just before she reaches out to get it.
  • Trouble on the Train - Two naughty girls push a girl named Gemma out of Annie and run off just before the train was due to leave. Thomas, Annie and Clarabel think Gemma should report the names of the other girls.


  • Policeman Len appears in every story, disciplining or helping the children as needed.
  • The Peel Godred branch appears in the story Nearly an Unhappy Christmas, as well as one of its engines, who has yet to be named.

Companion volumes

The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways

  • Published 1987
  • Written by Rev. W. Awdry and George Awdry
  • Illustrated by Clive Spong

This is a book about the Island of Sodor, dealing with its history, geography and industry in far greater depth than could ever be discussed in the Railway Series stories themselves. Most of the background information on the places, people, railways and engines in the Railway Series comes from this book.

The book came about as a result of Rev. W. Awdry’s desire to create a credible and consistent world for his stories. This began with maps of Sodor, and was then expanded upon. Rev. W. Awdry and his brother George (who was the librarian of the National Liberal Club) worked out details of Sodor, producing between them a comprehensive set of notes. These notes were compiled and published in this book.

Sodor: Reading Between the Lines

  • Published 2005
  • Written by Christopher Awdry

This book is a companion volume to the Railway Series, providing comprehensive biographies of the characters within the books and exploring the origins of the stories. Like The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it included aspects of the fictional universe that were never featured in the Railway Series stories. It brought the history of Sodor right up to date, describing developments on the railway that had occurred since 1996.

The Thomas the Tank Engine Man

A biography of Rev. W. Awdry and companion to the series. Although it is not officially a Railway Series publication, it includes a great deal of background information on the series from the Awdrys that is not available elsewhere. Although it is not canon as such, therefore, it contains a lot of information that is.

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