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Book 31 – Gordon the High Speed Engine – Christopher Awdry – 1987
In Christopher’s 5th volume, Gordon tries to become a high speed engine like those running on the Other Railway. But whilst trying, several incidents occur, and he ends up getting into trouble. But eventually, when the High-Speed Train breaks down, Gordon’s wish comes true. Interestingly, due to the success of Christopher Awdry’s books, he was able to retire from his job at the Inland Revenue after writing this book and write full time.
Written By D Howells


When Gordon hears that diesels on the Mainland can go at 125mph, he boasts that he could go just as fast as them. The next morning, he hopes to prove himself right when he takes the express. But the previous night, there had been a frost, and now sleet had settled on the rails, making them very slippery. Gordon starts quickly, and his wheels slip on the icy rails. This sudden movement makes the water in his boiler surge forward, making it impossible for Gordon’s driver to shut off steam. Gordon’s wheels spin furiously, but neither he nor his train move at all. Fifteen minutes later, after a lot of noise, Gordon uses up all his steam, allowing the driver to close the regulator, and Gordon’s wheels finally stop moving. But that night, he is teased for being a high speed engine without moving his train!



Some low grade coal clogs up Gordon’s tubes, making him feel ‘stuffed up.’ Fortunately, it doesn’t affect him when he pulls the express the next morning. But when he reaches Edward’s station, making a good run for the hill, the smoke cloud from his fire leaves a black smokescreen settling over the station, sending a shower of soot all over a party of wedding guests. Although it wasn’t his fault, he still gets in trouble at Vicarstown. Gordon tries his best to be careful on the return trip, but when steaming through Edwards Station, a cloud of something flies from the express, and lands on the Fat Controllers new top-hat. The Fat Controller mistakenly accuses Gordon of sending the ashes on his top-hat, but Gordon is sure it wasn’t him. He is told that the Fat Controller will speak to him when he gets home from the Mainland.



The Fat Controller is due home, but Gordon isn’t too eager to see him. When pulling the express that day, a late passenger makes him miss his path at the Junction. The journey goes smoothly from then, until Gordon starts climbing his hill. Halfway up, he feels a blast of cold air in his middle; his fire bars had collapsed, and he’d lost some of his fire. Gordon rapidly loses steam, but the fireman puts a large lump of coal across the hole, making Gordon feel better. Gordon puffs his hardest up the hill, hoping not to stick again. At last, he finds himself at the top, and the passengers congratulate him on a job well done. BoCo helps Gordon finish the journey, and at the Works Station, the Fat Controller is waiting. He thanks Gordon, but quickly runs off to catch his next train, leaving Gordon in suspense once more.



Gordon arrives at Barrow one day to find that some Railtour People going along the coast to Carlisle are stranded because their train has failed. He is surprised when he is asked to take the train in the engines place. The Fat Controller allows Gordon to take the train, and a High Speed Train is substituted for the return trip for Gordon’s express. The two powercars, Pip and Emma, are happy to do so.

Later, James, who is pulling a stopping train, is told that the High Speed train has failed, and he has to pull it home. James does do, and the passengers get home safely. The next day, Gordon arrives home, and the Fat Controller apologizes for falsely accusing Gordon of ruining his top hat; it had in fact been a steward emptying an ashtray from a carriage window. The Fat Controller also asks Gordon if he could take Pip and Emma’s passenger’s home. Gordon is very proud; at last, he really is a High-Speed Engine.

Book 42 - Thomas and his Friends - Christopher Awdry - 2011

Thomas & His Friends

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his father’s birth, Christopher Awdry penned the 42nd volume in the Railway Series – tying up loose ends which he had ‘promised’ in Sodor: Reading Between The Lines in 2005.  Thomas & His Friends is a mixed volume featuring stories from across the railway, but with the undercurrent storyline of having Pip & Emma coming to the railway permanently to run an Express service to London – it concludes with The Rev Awdry’s bust unveiled at Tidmouth Station by a Prince.

Written By R Healy


The Fat Controller proudly announces that Pip and Emma will be joining the railway, and running a special Express service from the Big Station all the way to London.  There’s another surprise waiting for Thomas on the bridge crossing the river – a large white object is blocking his path, and his Driver and Fireman have to move it.  At first they assume it’s only a load of paper, but are given the shock of their lives when it begins flapping it’s wings and hissing at them – it’s actually been an injured swan all along!  Thomas’s crew take it to a nearby vet, and when fully recovered, Thomas takes the swan to the river to set it free again.



It’s winter, and Donald and Douglas are hauling trucks of ballast from the Little Western for James to deliver on the Main Line.  However, after one of these trips – when running around, Donald ends up sliding along icy rails and hitting the buffers at the end of a siding.  Although they know he’s not the one at fault, Donald is still teased by the other engines.  On the day the repair work is ending, Douglas delivers the last load of trucks to James – and moves down the siding where the workmen are finishing the new buffers.  Douglas is impressed at their workmanship, but as he prepares to stop, nothing happens.  With a smash of wood, he bursts through the new buffers and upsets a pot of red paint all over himself.  The furious Foreman scolds Douglas and swipes paint right across his nose – which the Fat Controller leaves on as a reminder for him to be more careful in sidings in future!



Gordon and Henry are discussing the services to London with Pip and Emma.  Gordon is dismayed at the lack of water towers on the Other Railway, but both are curious about the new modern electric engines that run there.  On his last journey of the day, Gordon is stopped after leaving the Electric branch line by a man beside the line – a hay bale is on fire down on the roadside.  Gordon urges the crew to let him help – and he does so by using his own water to douse the flames before the Fire Brigade arrive.  Everyone is proud of Gordon, and for his heroism, he’s given the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.  Gordon takes a special pride in knowing that although Electric Engines are fast and silent – steam engines like him still have their uses too!



The Fat Controller announces that the Railway is going to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Thin Clergyman by unveiling a bust of him in the Big Station.   However, his plans for the big event are put in jeopardy – when a landslide blocks Henry’s tunnel and severs Sodor’s links with the Mainland.  All trains now have to terminate at the Works Station, and nothing can come in or out of Sodor from the Mainland end.  Percy is confused though – he thinks the Thin Clergyman is broken, until Thomas explains what the Fat Controller meant about a ‘bust’, and what one actually is.  Eventually, the tunnel is cleared, and Pip and Emma proudly bring the very important visitors to unveil the bust at the Big Station.  The Prince, who unveils the bust addresses the engines, speaks highly of the Thin Clergyman’s stories, and their railway.   He reminds everyone that “There will never be anything like it anywhere.”