Gordon was built experimentally by Sir Nigel Gresley at Doncaster Works between 1920 and 1922 as an "A0" Pacific, a so-called "proto-type". When Gresley was finished using Gordon for designing his A1 Pacifics, he sold Gordon, along with a spare boiler and firebox, to the North Western Railway.
Gordon is mainly used for passenger duties, pulling the North Western Railway's express, the Wild Nor' Wester, but has occasionally pulled goods trains. He has been known to run into ditches and stop on hills to get out of doing these jobs, as he believes that these are below him.
In 1939, Gordon went to Crewe for a rebuild. His conjugated valve gear was replaced by a two-cylinder chassis (designed by the Fat Controller), he received a smoother running plate, Stanier underframes wheels, cylinders, squared-off side windows, rectangular buffers, and a Fowler tender.
Gordon has become famous after his adventures: In 1953, he pulled Queen Elizabeth II's royal train and in 1956, he traveled to London, where he was lauded by a large crowd. Gordon did not like the visit, however, as he discovered that London's big station was St. Pancras. In 1957, when Diesel arrived on trial and was having trouble moving some old trucks, he decided to make rumours about Duck giving Gordon a bad nickname, Galloping Sausage. Gordon, Henry, and James decided to wheesh and yell at Duck to keep out of their sheds. However when the truth came out that Duck had not made the nicknames, they begin to feel very silly about jumping to conclusions before knowing the true story. Then, in 1986, Gordon got to visit Carlisle when a Diesel taking a Railtour failed.
In 2011, he was dismissed from pulling the express regularly to Barrow due to the purchase of Pip and Emma. He likes this, because he can do two trips a day instead of one and he does not have to hurry.
Bio in the Television Series
Gordon has to date been the fastest engine on Sodor, but has sometimes had accidents, due to him trying to show off. In the fifth season, his brakes were not working, and could not stop, in result of him crashing through the Kirk Ronan Station wall. Also, in the sixth season, he ignored Salty's advice about going slow while pulling trucks, in result of him speeding down a rickety old branch line, and tumbling into a field. Though he has proven to not be too big for his wheels, and be useful instead, like when Spencer first arrived on Sodor, he gave him advice about taking on water before going to Maron Station, in result, he ran out of water on Gordon's Hill, and Gordon had to pull him there. In the tenth season, he, along with Edward, criticised Rocky when he first arrived on Sodor, and called him "new-fangled nonsense." Afterwards, when he crashed into Edward's pipes, which had fallen off his flatbeds, he derailed. In result, Rocky came, and lifted him, and the pipes back onto the rails, proving how useful he is.
Gordon once tried taking a shortcut in order to beat Stanley to Great Waterton, but accidentally crashed into Ben's logs, but luckily, saved Stanley from crashing into them, on the track below. When Gordon was given the task of taking the Lion of Sodor to the Duke and Duchess of Boxford's summer house with Ferdinand, he ignored his advice about going slowly over the Fenland, in result of the statue falling into the muddy marsh. After the statue was cleaned, Gordon let Ferdinand be his front engine, and they delivered the statue safely to the summer house. They have since then been good friends. One winter he, along with the rest of the steam team, had to find places to sleep, when the turntable at Tidmouth Sheds was frozen, so he decided to sleep there, in the one accessible berth, in result of him getting stuck in there the next morning, and remaining there for the rest of the day. He has since become a more sensible engine.
Gordon's important position as the engine who usually pulls the Express has made him proud, pompous and arrogant, with good reason too; he is the strongest engine on Sodor. Gordon's philosophy "tender engines don't shunt" meant that he looked down on tank engines and tender engines who do shunt, but after being locked in the shed with Henry and James after going on strike and before the seventeenth season, he seems to have abandoned this philosophy.
Because of his rank in the social order of the North Western Railway, Gordon expects to get the important jobs and either sulks when he does not, or gets jealous of those who do. Sometimes, Gordon acts as a bully, particularly towards Edward, but following misadventures where Edward had to help him, Gordon had to acknowledge that despite being old, Edward is still a very useful engine. However, sometimes Gordon still doubts Edward is still reliable, such as the time he didn't believe Edward could win a race against Spencer because "he's only a back engine" and "a waste of steam".
Sometimes Gordon shows a kinder side and gives the younger engines advice, usually after he has had some mishap as a result of his foolhardiness. Some of his advice is not exactly honest, though, as James and Sir Handel have discovered.
According to Sudrian "historian" Martin Clutterbuck, Gordon is supposed to be an experimental prototype for Sir Nigel Gresley's A1 Pacific design for the Great Northern Railway - the so-called "A0". Gordon was then built at Doncaster Works, Yorkshire, and tested against a similar LNER Pacific in 1923. Gordon, being an experimental engine, never received a number, and was later rebuilt at Crewe with LMS underparts and a six-wheel tender, owing to various problems. Gordon has since been rebuilt below the footplate according to Stanier designs, his running plate being Sir Topham Hatt's own design.
Gordon is painted NWR blue with NWR red-and-yellow lining and the number "4" painted on his tender sides in yellow. Before arriving on Sodor, he was painted Doncaster green with white and black lining.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
In the annual story, Galloping Sausage, Gordon is portrayed with a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement.
Since Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Gordon's rear bogie has been joined to his driving wheel chassis and extra red lining was added to the cab side of his tender.
In the fourth and fifth seasons, Gordon's brake pipe had been facing downwards. In Thomas and the Magic Railroad onwards, his brake pipe has been facing upwards again.
During the first nine seasons, Gordon's pistons appear to be broken. They were fixed from Season 10 onwards.
The Halloween Engine in the eighth season episode, Halloween, was recycled from one of Gordon's scrap models.
In the seventeenth season, Gordon gained permanent head and tail lamps.
"If you were a nice tank engine, you'd be alright! Now you'll have to pull the next train backwards."
"Look!" called some boys. "There's a new tank engine...oh it's only Gordon back to front."
"Hullo!" called Thomas. "Playing Tank Engines? Sensible engine. Take my advice scrap your tender and have a nice bunker!"
- Gordon jokingly mistaken for a tank engine, "Tenders and Turntables."
"Good riddance!" grumbled Gordon. "Chatting all night keeping important engines awake, who is he anyway?"
"He's City of Truro. He's famous."
"As famous as me? Nonsense!"
"He's famousier than you. He went 100 miles an hour before you were drawn or thought of!"
"So he says. But I didn't like his looks. He's got no dome!" said Gordon darkly. "Never trust domeless engines, they're not respectable! I never boast," Gordon continued modestly. "But a 100 miles an hour would be easy for me! Goodbye."
- Gordon and Duck arguing about City of Truro, "Domeless Engines."
"It's not fair!" grumbled Gordon.
"What isn't fair?" asked Edward.
"Letting branch line diesels pull main line trains!"
"Never mind, Gordon. I'm sure BoCo will let you pull his trucks sometimes."
"I won't pull BoCo's dirty trucks! I won't run on branch lines!"
"Why not? It would be a nice change."
"The Fat Controller would never approve!" said Gordon. "Branch lines are vulgar!"
Gordon puffed away. Edward chuckled and followed him to the station.
- Edward and Gordon taking about branch lines, "Wrong Road."
"When Gordon smiles, it changes his whole face. Hehehe. It is most interesting!"