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Gordon the Big Engine

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This article is about the Railway Series book. You may be looking for the engine, Story Library book, the magazine story, or the song.
Gordon the Big Engine

Reverend W. Awdry

Illustrated by

C. Reginald Dalby


Edmund Ward
Egmont Publishing


1953 - present

Previous book

Toby the Tram

Next book

Edward the Blue

Gordon the Big Engine is the eighth book of the Railway Series.


Dear Ian,
You asked for a book about Gordon. Here it is. Gordon has been naughty, and Sir Topham Hatt was stern with him.

Gordon has now learned his lesson and is a Really Useful Engine again.
The Author


Off the Rails

Gordon is huffy after being told to take a goods train and his fire is slow, so Edward comes to take him to the turntable. Gordon decides to "jam" the table, but only breaks through a fence and runs into a ditch. Edward takes the special instead and Henry and James pull him out.


After a long tedious wash-down, Gordon is banned from pulling coaches and told to shunt trucks until he behaves, and he begins to order the trucks about. Later, he tries to warn James that his hill is slippery from leaves, James simply laughs, but soon regrets it when the coaches drag him down the hill. Gordon takes pity and helps James up again.

Down the Mine

Thomas teases Gordon for falling into a ditch, and carries on even after Annie and Clarabel rebuke him. Thomas then goes to the lead mine to get some trucks. Thomas concocts a plan to go past a "danger" board, and falls in. Gordon, who laughs when he finds out, comes to the rescue, and, on the way home, the two form an alliance.

Paint Pots and Queens

Queen Elizabeth II is coming to Sodor and Henry brags that he will be chosen to take the Royal Train, but these plans are soon put to rest when Henry disturbs a painter and a paintpot falls onto him. Thomas and Gordon apologise to the Fat Controller for being silly, and he allows Gordon to pull the Royal Train. On the big day, Thomas gets the coaches ready, and Edward clears the line in front. The Queen meets all the engines, and talks personally to Thomas, Edward and Gordon, but Gordon feels proudest of all.



  • One of the Illustrations from "Paint Pots and Queens" was painted by Clive Spong for the 1983 Island of Sodor Map.
  • "Down the Mine" is based on a real event that took place at Lindal-in-Furness in 1892. Though in this particular event, the collapsing mine hole was miles deep and all that was recovered of the engine was its tender.
  • "Off the Rails" is based on a real event that took place at Lynn on August 9th, 1952.
  • "Paints, Pots, and Queens" is based on 2 events, one where a station painter was unsighted by locomotive smoke in Preston, and the other where HM Queen Elizabeth II arrived on train at Llandrindod Wells in 1952, the year she took the throne, is very reminiscent of the scenes in Sodor the following year, after her Coronation in 1953.
  • The Norwegian version of this book is renamed "Thomas and Gordon Become Friends". Off the Rails is renamed "Gordon Goes Off the Rails", Leaves is renamed "Gordon Does Skating", Down the Mine is renamed "In the Mine", and Paint Pots and Queens is renamed "The Queen Comes to Visit".


  • In the third illustration of "Off the Rails", James' wheels are red.
  • In the final illustration of "Off the Rails" Gordon, Henry and James' faces disappear.
  • In the seventh illustration of "Leaves", James has six coaches, but in the next picture he has five.
  • In the first illustration of "Paint Pots and Queens" James is portrayed with a 4-6-0 wheel configuration and should Henry move forward, he would collide with the shed support pillar.
  • In the original first copy of this book, Wilbert Awdry claimed that the publishers had luckily managed to fix the typo made in Down The Mine. The text read: Thomas squealed crossly at the sound of his brakes were applied. The changes had been fixed in later copies.
  • In the first illustration of "Leaves", James' one lead wheel is bigger than the one on the other side.


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