Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia


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This article is about the engine. You may be looking for the Railway Series book, the magazine story, or the Story Library book.
"I am a splendid engine, ready for anything. You never see my paint dirty."
— James, Dirty Objects, first season

  • Number: 5
  • Class: L&YR Hughes Class 28 2-6-0 hybrid with Fowler tender
  • Designer: George Hughes
  • Builder: Horwich Works
  • Built: 1912/1913
  • Configuration: 2-6-0, originally 0-6-0
  • Arrived on Sodor: 1923

James is a vain red mixed-traffic engine.

Bio in the Railway Series

James was designed by George Hughes and built at Horwich Works in 1912/13 as an 0-6-0 with wooden brakes. Sometime after he was built, James was experimentally rebuilt with a pony truck, making him a 2-6-0. In 1923, James was sold to Sir Topham Hatt for mixed traffic duties, at which time he was still mix-traffic black. After his first accident, he had his front sandboxes removed, was rebuilt with proper brakes and a Fowler tender (due to his old one being badly wrecked from the crash), and repainted red with gold stripes and blue lining. He was troublesome when he returned, ruining Sir Topham Hatt's new top-hat with his steam and jarring his coaches so much that a brake pipe leaked. He was threatened to be painted blue (which James detests), but later promised to be useful again and made the line's worst trucks behave after being given a second chance. He also pulled the express for Gordon when the latter was switched off the main line, and went on strike along with Gordon and Henry. He later made rude remarks about Henry when he was using special coal, called Toby and Henrietta 'dirty objects', and subsequently got into an accident with some tar wagons.

James was of the opinion that he would pull the Royal Train, much to the skepticism of the others due to the time he became stuck on Gordon's Hill. Later, James became a runaway when two naughty boys fiddled with his controls, and was rescued by Edward. He and Gordon played a joke on Percy by convincing him of the existence of backing signals. Upon Duck's arrival, Percy and the newcomer blocked James and the other big engines out of the shed as revenge for teasing them. When Diesel arrived on trial, James earned the nickname "Rusty Red Scrap-Iron". James, like the other two, were turned against Duck, but were sorry after receiving proof of his innocence. When Duncan was grumbling with Rusty, James boasted to the little engine that he sending Diesel packing (which of course is down by The Fat Controller). When work began to increase steadily on the railway, James and the others started to complain about it, leading The Fat Controller to buy a goods engine from Scotland, only to receive two. After Donald crashed into a signal box and was in need of repair, James has handle the goods work for Donald, much to his annoyance, leading him to bump the trucks around, and tricked by The Spiteful Brakevan, needing to be helped up the hill by Douglas, and stood beside the Scottish twins when they were worried about being sent away, and cheered with the rest when they were to stay. Later James told Duck not listen to BoCo about bees, claiming that they were only insects after all, and can whoosh them away easily, only to be stung by one the very next morning. James was one of the first engines to know about Oliver, and phrased the GWR engine so much he got puffed in the smoke box.

Years later, James was still skeptical to diesel engines, with BoCo and Bear as the exception. He got crossed line with his well wagons on a foggy day, and his injector froze in winter, so he had to be rescued by a diesel from the works, who was so friendly that James gave up his prejudice with diesels. James once reluctantly doubled the express with Henry when the green engine needed an overhaul at the works, saying two engines on one train is definitly an "over haul". James was the engine chosen to collect the Thin Clergyman's bust, and reported the collapse of Henry's Tunnel, and attended his 100th anniversary.

Bio in the Television Series

According to The Adventure Begins, James arrived on Sodor some time after Gordon, at which time he was painted black. James originally owned Annie and Clarabel, and was vain enough to believe The Fat Controller will soon give him his own branch line. James acted as a bully towards Thomas when the tank first arrived, but only needed the latter's help when the Troublesome Trucks made his wooden brakes catch fire. When James returned as a splendid red engine, Thomas and Edward did not recognise him. Upon declaring he is ready for his coaches, James realised that his coaches were now Thomas', and the little tank engine now has his own branch line. James had had several mishaps, most of them were caused by his own vain to his paintwork. While using Toad as a brakevan on a mainline goods train, he refused to slow down. When a coupler snapped, his train rolled down Gordon's Hill uncontrollably. Toad was able to stop the train before colliding with Thomas, who was pulling a special train with Sir Topham Hatt and his mother. Another incident occured during the floods, when James and Rocky inadvertantly knocked down a signal. When they stopped to rescue another engine, Oliver was unaware that the track was occupied. He saw them at the last minute, but it was too late to avoid a collison. James owned up to Sir Topham Hatt, admitting he should have waited for Rocky to be secured properly before leaving.


James is very proud of his splendid red paintwork. He hates pulling trucks, and believes that he should only pull coaches. He thinks himself superior to the others, and can be shallow, boastful, and vain, particularly to those who appear old-fashioned, weak, slow, or dirty. This has caused him to have somewhat of a rivalry with Toby. However, on a number of occasions, he has found himself in need of help from those whom he has insulted and is, in the end, apologetic.

James was the last engine to retain a prejudice against Diesels. However, after stalling on a cold day, he was rescued by the Works Diesel, and James had to admit that nothing was wrong with Diesels. This appears to be one of the few lessons that has stuck.

Despite everything else, James has shown a caring side, is normally hard-working, and like everybody else, wants to be a responsible, reliable and really useful engine on Sir Topham Hatt's railway.


In The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it is stated that James is based on a Class 28 locomotive from the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Works, itself a development of the Class 27. The Class 28 engines were designed by George Hughes, and had Belpaire fireboxes, a Schmidt superheater, and an extended footplate and sandbox.

Sodor "historian" Martin Clutterbuck has pointed out that James strongly resembles an G&SWR "Austrian Goods" 2-6-0 from the Glasgow and South Western Railway, but with the addition of a Belpaire firebox. At any rate, the Reverend W. Awdry used an engine of this class to represent James on his model railway. It is possible that he rejected this prototype for James' official "biography" on the grounds that an English locomotive would be more likely to end up on Sodor.


James was originally painted L&YR's mixed traffic black with red lining before his accident and was given his red coat with yellow stripes and black lining to cheer him up. Sometime during the 1960s, James' black lining was repainted blue and gold. James has the number "5" painted in bright yellow with a blue border on his tender sides.

In the television series, James is always painted NWR red with gold stripes and black lining, with 3 exceptions: in the tenth season episode The Green Controller, when he was painted yellow and black, like a bumblebee, on Percy's orders. Then, in the thirteenth season episode, Tickled Pink, James was painted in a pink undercoat. Though he was painted red in his official debut episode, he was painted in his black livery from the Railway Series in The Adventure Begins and had lining on the back of his tender. This disappeared when he was granted his red livery.

In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.

James' twins

The Mid-Hants Railway repainted a Southern Railway N Class 2-6-0, No.31874, into the livery of James. The engine retained this colour scheme for many years, and participated in the Railway Series Golden Jubilee celebrations at the National Railway Museum. However, following the withdraw of the N Class in 1998, the Mid-Hants Railway quickly repainted its cousin-engine, a Southern Railway U Class 2-6-0, No.31625, into James for the 1999 season. After the withdraw of the U Class, the N Class reprised its role as James, only wearing a face during Thomas events. However, due to the fact that both of these engines are privately owned, they will be leaving the Mid-Hants Railway in 2014. For the Mid-Hants Railway's "Steam Railway" supported gala in September 2012, it was decided to repaint N Class No. 31874 in wartime black to carry its Southern identity No. 1874; this means that James will no longer appear at the Thomas events at the Watercress Line.

However, the repainting of the engine created a stir among railway enthusiasts, who felt that it was wrong to paint a historic main line locomotive in such a garish livery. Nevertheless, the locomotive was popular with the railway's younger visitors.

On the East Lancashire Railway, the unrestored LMS 2MT 2-6-0 No. 46428 has been painted as James, although his face only appears during Day Out with Thomas events.

James on the big screen

James was voiced by Susan Roman in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. In the movie, James was present when Diesel 10 first arrived at Tidmouth Sheds. He also was at the Smelter's Yard when Diesel 10 arrived with Junior. He almost got thrown into the smelting pit by Diesel 10, but luckily Junior used his gold dust to magic them to a spot near the magic buffers, where Mr. Conductor was waiting.


Railway Series

Television series


Magazine stories

James also appeared in the magazine stories, 'Smile, Please!', A Colourful Christmas, A Frog in his Throat!, A Job for James, A Long Way Up!, A Special Story about Steam, April Fools, Back-to-Front, Bricks and Tunnels, Bill and Ben's Trick, Building Blues!, Clever Climbers!, Coal Weather, Colour Quarrel!, Creaky Cranky, Daisy's Day, Daisy in Distress, Diesel's Drums, Diesel's Nasty Turn, Doctors and Nurses, Donald and Douglas, Duck and Diesel, Fast Food!, Favourite Journey, Fish and Fog!, Fishy Business, Fishy Diesel!, Flying James, Glider Rider, Gordon's Surprise, Gordon the Town Engine, Harvest, Harvey to the Rescue!, Henry's Forest, Jack Frost, James and Edward, James and the Cheese, Lazy Wheels, Leaves on the Line, Looking Splendid, Lost and Found, Luggage, Missing Murdoch, Night Work, Oliver's Mistake, Party Time!, Percy's House, Percy's Plight, Percy's Spooky Tooth, Picture Posters, Puzzles, Railway Open Day, Really Useful Edward, Rude James, Rushing Around, Scaredy Puffer!, Sea Sick, Seeing Steam, Ship Ahoy!, Size Wise, Sodor's Strong Man, Sodor Goes Pop, Special Passengers, Special Treats, Stick with Steam, Taking Off!, The Best Band, The Best Engine, The Big Wheel, The Brown Bear, The Cat Controller!, The Flower Dome, The Flower Train, The Flyover!, The Haunted Mine, The Milk Train, The Smartest Engine, The Smugglers, The Tiny Engine, The Train Trolley, and The Very Important Job.


Voice Actors

Theme Instrumental


  • A large-scale working replica of James, along with replicas of Thomas, Percy, Harold, and Jack, was created by BBC Visual Effects for a tour in 2003. The battery powered locomotive is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest model railway engine ever built, at 2.64 x 1.5 x 6.52 metres.
  • In Toby's New Whistle, James revealed that he once had a three-chimed whistle.
  • Michael Angelis originally voiced James in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, but he was cut from the movie and was replaced by Susan Roman.
  • James has undergone numerous modifications through the television series, including:
    • Third season:
      • His brake pipe now faces downwards.
    • Fourth season:
      • His whistle sound changed to a higher-pitched version of Duck's.
    • Fifth season:
      • His whistle changed back to how it originally sounded.
      • His brake pipe now faces upwards.
    • Thomas and the Magic Railroad:
      • His bufferbeam rivets were removed.
      • His brake pipe now faces downwards again.
    • Sixth season:
      • His safety valve disappeared.
    • Thirteenth season:
      • He increased in size, making the top of his boiler the same height as Gordon's. His cab was also scaled up accordingly.
    • Seventeenth season:
      • He gained a permanent lamp.
    • Eighteenth season:
      •  A permanent tail lamp was added to his tender.
    • The Adventure Begins:
      • His brakepipe now faces upward.
  • In the Railway Series and television series combined, James has been painted more colours than any other engine.
  • In the twelfth season, James was missing his signature crow's feet.
  • Two of James' models are currently on display; one at Nitrogen Studios, another at Japan.
  • In an interview with SiF , Andrew Brenner stated James was one of his favourite characters, along with Toby, Bill, and Ben
  • In the fourth season and some of the fifth, James' whistle sound was Duck's at a higher pitch.
  • One of James' television series models was sold to an unknown buyer.
  • In the Annual Story Donald's Duck, James was incorrectly depicted as a LMS Fowler 4F 0-6-0.
  • In the book Thomas' Christmas Party, James in one picture was incorrectly depicted as a 4-4-0.



Merchandise Gallery

See also

North Western Railway
ThomasEdwardHenryGordonJamesPercyTobyDuckDonald and DouglasOliverBarryThe Austerity EngineThe Red EnginesDaisyBoCoBearThe Works DieselPip and EmmaPeel Godred Engines
HarveyEmilyFergusArthurMurdochMollyNevilleRosieWhiffBillyStanleyHankFloraVictorCharlieBash and DashFerdinandScruffBellePorterDerekDiesel 10'Arry and BertSaltyDennisDenDartSidneyPaxtonNormanFlynnWinstonStafford

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