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"Where have you been, lazybones? I can't wait for dawdling tank engines like you. Goodbye!"
— Henry teasing Thomas
Henry's Special Coal

David Mitton


David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

December 4th,
1984 (UK)
April 29th,
1987 (AUS)
April 2nd,
1989 (US)
July 31st,
1990 (JPN)
August 13th,
1993 (George
Carlin US

Previous episode

Percy Runs Away

Next episode

The Flying Kipper

Coal, retitled Henry's Special Coal for American releases, is the eighteenth episode of the first season. In the US, this episode aired on Shining Time Station episodes Happy Accidents and Dan's Big Race.


One morning, Henry wakes up feeling very ill. He complains about it to James, who simply shrugs it off as Henry being lazy. The Fat Controller is also unhappy about this, given this is the latest in a long line of problems with Henry, and not even new parts or paint seem to help.

Later, as Henry prepares to take his first train, the Fat Controller, determined to get to the bottom of Henry's problems, decides to ride along in the cab. Henry manages to start, but the fireman is not pleased and notes that Henry's fire does not give enough heat. As a result, Henry quickly loses steam, and has to rest when he reaches Edward's station. Henry's crew and the Fat Controller continue to discuss what the problem is. They then discover the root of the problem; the coal provided is unsuitable for him. While the other engines have nice big fireboxes, Henry's is too small. But if Henry had Welsh coal, he would easily improve, so though it will be expensive, the Fat Controller agrees to send for some Welsh coal.

When the coal arrives, the fireman carefully stokes up Henry's fire to give the best possible results. Henry has his doubts, but his mood changes as he comes into the platform. The Fat Controller is happy to see that Henry is feeling well, and warns the driver not to push him. The driver assures him not to worry, in fact, he will have to hold him back.

For the first time, Henry makes it to the junction before Thomas. When Thomas arrives, Henry calls him "lazybones" before quickly running off. Thomas, too surprised to be cross reacts with disbelief, and Annie and Clarabel concur with him.





  • Because stock footage is used, the Fat Controller is smiling when he tells Henry that he might have to be replaced.
  • As Edward backs onto the train, his eyes repeatedly bounce up and down.
  • In the close-up of Henry's driver holding a piece of coal, a big piece of blu-tak is visible sticking the coal and his hand together.
  • When Henry's fireman says "We'll have a roaring fire", blu-tak is visible below his left arm. In that same scene, a part of Henry's paintwork is blue (this is because the large scale tender is really Gordon's modified, viewers can tell from the shape of the tender).
  • In the last close-up scene of Henry, he is in his new shape.
  • As Henry leaves Knapford, the truck at the top of the platform changes to a van. To add to that, his brake coach is at the front of his train until he passes the goods train. Also, when Henry leaves the station, steam rises in between his coaches.
  • When the narrator says "he wanted to go fast", the bush beside the track shakes.
  • Throughout the episode, Henry's coaches keep changing their places and positions.
    • When Henry collects his coaches from Knapford and approaches Edward's station, the first class composite coach is in the middle of the train. However, when Henry stops next to the platform, the first class coach is suddenly at the front.
    • When Henry makes his first journey with the Welsh coal, he starts out of the station with the brake coach at the front of the train. However, when Henry is out on the open line, the brake coach is suddenly the rear one. Then, when Henry approaches the bridge, the brake coach is suddenly facing the other way round for the rest of the episode.
    • When Henry starts out of Knapford with his Welsh coal, the first class composite coach is at the rear of the train. However, as Henry passes the Bus Yard and approaches the bridge, the first class coach is the middle coach. Then, when Henry passes under the bridge, the first class coach is at the front of the train for the remainder of the episode.
  • In the restored version, when Henry backs into the siding, his tender hits the station building, a few chuffs are heard even after he stopped, and Henry backs into the siding, only to leave it again. Additionally, Edward does not start moving in the same shot.
  • When Henry passes the goods yard, blu-tak can be seen under a workman's shoes.
  • In the final scene, during the close up of Thomas' face, it is clear that it hadn't been fixed properly, as viewers can see behind his eye.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Spanish Un Carbón Especial para Henry A Special Coal for Henry
Danish Henry og kul Henry and Coal
Welsh Glo Coal
Norwegian Kull Coal
Finnish Huono Hiili Bad Coal
Japanese ヘンリーのせきたん Henry's Coal
Italian La Locomotiva Malata The Locomotive Sick
French Le Charbon Coal
Croatian Ugljen Coal
Dutch Kolen Coal
Slovenian Premog Coal
Swedish Kol Coal

Home Media Releases





  • Coal and other stories
  • The Complete First Series



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