This volume is a unique flashback, wholly set in the Victorian era of the early Sudrian railways – long before
Thomas, James, Gordon, Bear or even the Fat Director! It sheds a light onto the ‘Sodor and Mainland Railway’ as
briefly seen in the RWS Book Very Old Engines.
LUKE BEFORE YOU LEAP
we are introduced to the three S&M engines – Charles, Neil and Luke. Charles is seen to be an arrogant sort, always
looking down on the weaker engine Luke. Meanwhile, the manager Mr Retforth has hired a number of new employees to train for
both the ralway and the little railway being built at Crovan’s Gate. However, two young boys have other ideas and meddle
with Luke’s controls...
Charles is once
again upto no good when he complains of having to help do more work as Luke is away being repaired. Neil offers to swap places,
meaning Charles can stay in the yard and shunt all day while Neil takes care of a special train bound for the little railway
and meets a little engine during the course of the day! Charles however finds that shunting is nowhere as easy as he thought
it would be!
NEIL & CHARLES
After the shunting, Charles is plotting
his revenge on Neil. After a brief interlude where Neil scolds Charles, the purple engine is determined to pay Neil out for
what he sees as impudence – and promptly breaks down, forcing Neil to have to take the strain of not only his own Goods
train, but of having to rescue the passengers -and Charles too!
THE ENGINES AND THE EXPLOSIVES
line is being extended eastwards and a major cutting needs to be excavated. Charles, after a stern warning from Mr. Retforth
– and Neil are sent to take trains of supplies and explosives to the work site. Neil has to take the crates of dynamite,
knowing all too well that one wrong move could result in disaster.
At the workings, Charles is becoming cocky again and
rushes headlong in to shunt a wagon full of explosives. Unfortunately he causes a terrifying accident – and with the
fuse on the dynamite burning away, Neil and Luke have to work together to save not only Charles but the lives of all the workmen.