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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the VHS.
"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

October 19th,
1984 (UK)
April 29th,
1987 (Australia)
April 2nd,
1989 (US)
June 3rd,
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, however James simply shrugs it off as Henry being lazy. The Fat Controller is also unhappy about this, given that this is the latest in a long line of problems with Henry. He tells Henry and his crew that he is becoming too expensive to maintain, as he has been given new parts and paint which have done nothing to make him feel better and if his condition does not improve soon, he plans to have him replaced, upsetting Henry, his driver, and fireman.

Later that day, Henry arrives to take his first train. The Fat Controller, determined to get to the bottom of Henry's problems, decides to ride along with his crew. Henry manages to start, however he struggles and the fireman explains that Henry's fire does not give enough heat. As a result, Henry does not produce enough steam.

Henry tries to pull the train as hard as he can, but still can not produce the steam he needs. He struggles to make it to Edward's station and then is uncoupled from the coaches and runs sadly into a siding while Edward takes charge of the train. Henry's crew and the Fat Controller disembark and continue discussing what the problem is. Henry's fireman explains the root of the problem; the coal provided for Henry is unsuitable for him. While the other engines have large fireboxes, Henry's is too small and therefore can not produce heat from the coal as well. The fireman then tells the Fat Controller that if Henry had Welsh coal, he would easily improve. The Fat Controller notes that Welsh coal is expensive but wants to give Henry a fair chance and arranges for James to fetch some.

Soon the Welsh coal arrives, causing Henry's crew to become excited. The fireman carefully makes up Henry's fire to give the best possible results, however Henry has his doubts.

Henry's worries soon turn out to be unfounded, as when he gets to the station his water is boiling so well that he has more than enough steam. The Fat Controller is happy to see that Henry is feeling so well and warns the driver not to push him. The driver comments that it is not a worry, in fact, he will have to hold Henry back.

Henry goes on to have a wonderful day, having never felt so well and is eager to go fast but his driver does not let him, reassuring that they have plenty of time.

For the first time, Henry makes it to the junction before Thomas. Thomas is astounded to see Henry having beaten him and Henry calls him "lazybones" before running quickly off. Thomas is too shocked to be cross, a sentiment shared by Annie and Clarabel.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Henry the Green Engine.
  • Stock footage from Edward, Gordon and Henry and Troublesome Trucks is used.
  • The Italian title of this episode is "The Sick Locomotive". In Japan, this episode is called "Henry's Coal". In Finland this episode is called "Bad Coal". The Spanish title is "Special Coal for Henry". The Danish title is "Henry and the Coal".
  • A rare picture implies that James may have been intended to have a larger role in this episode.


  • Because stock footage is used, the Fat Controller is smiling when he tells Henry that he might have to be replaced.
  • The track bumps as Henry passes the Wellsworth signalbox.
  • 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, you can tell from the shape of the tender).
  • In the close-up scene of Henry after he had his new coal, 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.
  • Henry's brake coach constantly changes position throughout his journey.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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