- “We are glad to see you. Those others did their best, but they don't know our ways. Nothing anywhere can compare with our Fat Controller's engines.”
- ―The crowds cheering the engines home
The Eight Famous Engines is the twelfth book of the Railway Series.
Sir Topham Hatt's engines are now quite famous. They have been on the radio and had many other adventures. But he had another plan, too, for his engines, and this book will tell you what it was.
At Barrow-in-Furness, Percy is telling some tank engines about the time he braved bad weather when Henry arrives, he tells the tank engines to go away, and calls Percy silly. Percy responds by reminding Henry about the time he stayed in a tunnel and runs off to Knapford, where he sees a board saying "Danger." Thomas tells him to obey it, but Percy wants to know more, and persuades the trucks to push him past. They do so, but go too far and Percy falls into the sea. After being scolded by the Fat Controller, he is "fished out" and sent to the Works.
When a foreign engine visits, an argument ensues between him, Gordon, and Duck over, of all things, the name of London's big station. Gordon wants to find out, but is not allowed to pass Barrow. However, when the engine taking the Express to the mainland derails, Gordon jumps at the chance to take the train, and the next day the Fat Controller reads in the paper that Gordon received a hero's welcome. However, when he returns, Gordon is upset, having discovered that it is St. Pancras.
Gordon is exhausted from his trip to London, so James does his work, and when Toby visits him on his way to the Works, James brags to him about his importance. When Toby later tries to get a drink at Killdane, the signalman, who is new to the line, tells him he has to clear the line, and Toby struggles on to Kellsthorpe Road. However, Toby's tank was nearly empty to begin with, and he soon runs out of water. The fireman goes back and asks James to push Toby to the Works. When they get there, some boys think Toby has been helping James, who, furious, disappears in a cloud of steam.
Thomas arrives at Knapford to see some foreign engines arrive and Percy and Toby tell him the Fat Controller has something planned. At Tidmouth, the Fat Controller tells them they are going to England. The next day, Thomas is showing one of the engines, Jinty, around when he brags of his race, and dents his front when he runs into some buffers. Luckily, he is repaired in time for the trip.
- The Foreign Engine
- The Foreign Engines
- The Fat Controller
- The New Signalman
- The Little Boys
- Annie and Clarabel (not seen)
- Jinty and Pug (do not speak)
- Henrietta (does not speak)
- Beatrice (cameo)
- Bertie (mentioned)
- Knapford Harbour
- Crovan's Gate
- Tidmouth Sheds
- This book's working title was The Fat Controller's Engines.
- The Reverend W. Awdry originally considered making this the final book in the Railway Series.
- The republished version of this book is called Eight Famous Engines. However, the word The was re-added in the 2015 version.
- This was the first book to be illustrated by John T. Kenney.
- Gordon Goes Foreign was planned to be filmed as an episode for the television series, but was cut for being too high budget. It was revealed to SiF by art director Bob-Gauld Galliers.
- An illustration from Percy Takes the Plunge was released as a Royal Mail stamp in 2011 to mark the Reverend Awdry's Centenary.
- Duck gained sandboxes on his running board.
- This is the only time in the Railway series a tanker has been seen with a face.
- Loraine Marshall recreated some of the illustrations of "Gordon Goes Foreign" and "The Fat Controller's Engines" for a Thomas' YouTube World Tour segment.
- Percy Takes the Plunge is based on a real event where a contractor's locomotive once ran off the end of a jetty at Burnham-on-Sea.
- Double Header is based on an event where an LNER J70 (Toby's basis) once had to be "helped" to the ex-GER works in Stratford for overhaul having been stranded without water.
- The events of this book took place in 1956.
- In the sixth illustration of "Gordon Goes Foreign", Gordon's stripes on his firebox are missing and he has five stripes on his boiler.
- In the second illustration of "The Fat Controller's Engines", Pug and Jinty both appear to be faceless.
- Percy and Toby were placed on flatbeds and coupled behind Edward for the journey to England, but the second to last illustration shows them coupled behind James.
- In the second illustration of "Gordon Goes Foreign", the lettering on Duck's tank is missing.
- In the last illustration of "The Fat Controller's Engines", Percy and Gordon's red stripes on their cylinders are missing and Gordon is missing his steampipes. Also James' cab roof is white.
- In Loraine Marshall's recreation of the image of Gordon, The Foreign Engine, and Duck, Duck is depicted as a 2-6-0.
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