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“A long time ago, on the Island of Sodor, there was a little railway known as the North Western. The smallest engine working on the Main Line was Edward...”

At the start of this story, Edward is cheerfully arranging trucks and coaches in the yard when Gordon comes puffing slowly through, complaining about having to pull a goods train.

He goes on to tell Edward that a new engine is due to arrive later today, so hopefully he won’t have to help pull trucks anymore...provided that this engine will be bigger and better than the last one “with the wooden brake blocks...”


At this, the engine in question pulls out suddenly in front of Edward and Gordon – a black tender engine called James, who insists that he’s big enough to be Really Useful, even with wooden brake blocks.


Gordon is not convinced, imagining what would happen if James’ brakes might catch fire. He orders James to move out of his way and leaves the yard in a huff.

Gordon’s journey becomes more difficult when he reaches the big hill beyond Wellsworth.  The Troublesome Trucks begin to hold back, forcing Gordon to go slower and slower...until he finally gives up.  His Driver and Fireman argue with Gordon, but he simply refuses to go on.

So the message is sent through to Sir Topham Hatt, the man in charge of the North Western Railway (known to the engines as the Fat Controller). 


He goes to the yard and asks Edward to help Gordon with his goods train.


Edward arrives just as Gordon reverses his train to the bottom of the hill. Gordon thinks that Edward is too small to be of any use, but Edward is still determined to try.

So he buffers up behind the brake van and the two engines force the trucks up the hill, puffing to one another;

“I can’t do it! I will do it! I can’t do it! I will do it! I can’t do it! I will do it!”


Then to Gordon’s surprise and delight, he finds himself at the top of the hill. He hurries away down the other side, forgetting all about Edward and not even stopping to say “thank you”...


Later that day, Edward is shunting in the yard when he hears an unfamiliar voice talking to James.

He realises that this must be the new engine. When he goes to meet him, he’s rather amazed at the new arrival – a Brighton-built tank engine with six small wheels, a short stumpy boiler, a short stumpy dome and a short stumpy funnel. He is overjoyed at coming to work on the Island of Sodor.

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