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characters of sodor

Henry the Green engine

B5 Henry.jpg

By Phil Sangwell - 44949 Manchester Victoria,

C. Reginald Dalby, Sodor’s first CME, originally drew Henry for the first book “Three Railway Engines” as an engine similar to Gordon. In this incarnation he was a rather sickly engine until “Henry the Green Engine” (1951), when he was found to run well on Welsh coal (in real life, high-calorific anthracite which supplied the GWR). Unfortunately in that book, he was involved in a serious accident and sent to Crewe. The staff at Crewe, the LMS loco engineering headquarters, “rebuilt” him as that railway’s most prolific loco, the 4-6-0 5MT “Black Five.” The eagle-eyed will spot that Henry's top-feed (the nub in front of the dome) is somewhat forward along the boiler than most 5MTs, corresponding to 1940s modifications by HG Ivatt.

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The first of the 5MTs, no. 5000, at the National Railway Museum in York.
Photo: © Martin Clutterbuck (August 2010)

First appearing in 1934, “Black Fives” were Sir William Stanier’s most rugged and versatile design. They were similar to his “Jubilee” 5P express passenger loco, but with slightly smaller driving wheels to give it ability to haul freight as well as passengers. They show the hallmarks of Stanier’s distinctive standard LMS style, a practice he brought with him from his previous employers, the GWR of Churchward and Collett, with the purpose of using interchangeable parts on very different locos. Stanier’s ideas led the way for British Railways standard designs of the 1950s.

His locomotives bore the square Belpaire Firebox and tapered boiler, and usually a distinctive dome and top feed. These locos ranged from small 2-6-4 tanks for branch lines, through 4-6-0 Jubilees and Black Fives to the heavy freight 8F 2-8-0 and the crack express passenger 4-6-2 “Princess” and “Coronation” classes, considered the zenith of his career as a locomotive designer.

Numerous examples of the 5MT are preserved to the present day, as they were so useful, they survived long into the diesel age while other classes were scrapped, and at least 13 remain. The most famous is probably No. 45428 “Eric Treacy” at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which is named after another of the Church of England’s railway experts, in this case a bishop. Photo below shows their No. 44767 “George Stephenson” with the rare forward mounted top feed.

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At Moorgates on the NYMR. © 1999 Jon Bowers


'Henry liked being at Crewe, but was glad to come home.' - HGE - Page 30

From Tony Grigg's notes on “The Island of Sodor”:
Number 3 “Henry”

Topham Hatt ordered a locomotive which resembled the GCR 4-4-2 Atlantic tender engine. What he actually received was a 4-6-0 tender engine which was a cross between an A3 pacific and a nightmare. Henry was a poor steamer and is believed to be the result of the LMS’s secret attempt to recreate the A3 pacific locomotive dating from about 1923. The locomotive crisis at the time on the NWR meant that they had to live with the result!

Sir Topham Hatt’s orders? The Rev Awdry’s original drawing of Henry from the 1940s. With thanks to Jim Gratton

1950 after an accident involving “The Flying Kipper” Henry was sent to Crewe for a major rebuild, into an engine which resembled the LMS Stanier Black Five 4-6-0. On return to Sodor Henry has proved to be a much more reliable machine. The main difference is that due to the shorter runs on Sodor, Henry has a low capacity Fowler tender. Henry has always been based at Tidmouth for working mainline services.

Tom Wright adds:
-The original Henry is described as “one of Sir Topham Hatt's rare bad bargains”, having been constructed from rejected Gresley blueprints stolen by a rival. Awdry suggests that Henry's rebuild into a 5MT was achieved through Hatt’s contacts from his locomotive engineering days (during which he was apprenticed under Stanier himself). He currently runs with a Fowler tender.

Martin adds:
C. Reginald Dalby also invented a unique retractable rear pony truck - now you see it, now you don’t! Henry is a 4-6-2 when he goes into the tunnel in “The Three Railway Engines”(1945) but a 4-6-0 when he comes out. Also, he is a 4-6-0 in 1950's encounter with an elephant (“Troublesome Engines”), and a 4-6-2 when hauling the Flying Kipper in1951. His colours also switched back and forth at the begnning as follows: green for “The Three Railway Engines”, blue for “Thomas the Tank Engine”, “James the Red Engine” and “Tank Engine Thomas Again”, and green again for “Troublesome Engines” (his own choice). Luckily some degree of stability was achieved after his “rebuild”. There were in fact two Henrys, Henry I and Henry II. The “deplorable” Henry I was traded for a brand new 5MT in a somewhat murky deal.

Corbs adds his impressions of “Henry I” brought to you by the wonders of modern imaging software.

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Above: Henry I as Ordered.

Right: Henry I as delivered.

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The Rev. Awdry's Models of henry

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From The Thomas the Tank Engine Man. Used with the approval of Brian Sibley

The model Henry made by the Rev W Awdry is said to have had as many problems as his fictional counterpart, according to the Reverend himself in this text from his Model Railway Scrapbook:

“A Graham Farish (1950 Henry) adapted. I had a lot of trouble with this loco at first. Bought second hand, it reached me in a deplorable condition.

But, when all the dirt and fluff had been removed from the wheels, gears and motor, it proved quite a useful engine. The main disadvantage was that one had to start it with full regulator away, then with throttle down immediately afterwards. This made smooth starting impossible, and shunting difficult.”

It is said that this model “did not make it into preservation”

For more Info on henry the green engine please visit the Thomas Wikia!

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