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Book 12 - Eight Famous Engines - 1957

Summaries by C Signore


The twelfth title of the series was a starter for Artist John T Kenney, who gave the style of Awdry’s Characters a more realistic look. Also, these stories tell of Percy’s Plunge, Gordon’s Foreign Trip, James and Toby becoming a “double header”, and the final tale of the Fat Controller’s engines—Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby and Duck—extraordinary travel to London to show the people there they are real as real could be.

Percy Takes The Plunge

One day, Percy is bragging to some inquisitive and intrigued Other Railway Engines about his battle through the floods to get the Vicar’s Scholl Group home, and crows that “Water’s nothing to an engine with determination!” Henry overhears this and scoffs indignantly, and is beyond words when Percy reminds him of when the big green engine was bricked up in a tunnel for his phobia of the rain!

Later, Percy and Thomas observe a DANGER notice at the Harbour Quay. The real reason is because the foundations of the quay have sunk, meaning that the wharf is uneven and slopes downward to the sea. Percy doesn’t realise this and his curiosity gets the better of him. After foolishly asking “help” from the trucks, he ends up overshooting the buffers and is up to his chin in seawater! When he is eventually rescued, Henry has the last laugh when he hauls Percy to the Works.

Gordon Goes Foreign

When Visiting Engines often visit Sodor, Gordon drones on about his younger days, when he was “young and green”. But when he mentions that London’s Station is King’s Cross, a rather uptight visitor argues that it’s Euston, which worsens when Duck comments that it was Paddington. After much quarrelling, Gordon decides to prove his point.

But the problem is he is only allowed to take his Express train as far as Vicarstown, at the other end of the line, where another engine takes it from there to London. Gordon’s attempts to go further to London a thwarted, and just when he gives up hope, his chance soon comes. The engine that was supposed to be taking Gordon’s Train has derailed, and as Gordon was the only engine available he’s to go onto London, much to his delight!
After getting much publicity during his stay, Gordon returns home, but with upsetting news that London isn’t King’s Cross…but St Pancras!!


Double Header
Gordon is given a rest after coming from London, which means James takes over the Express for him. He becomes rather puffed in the smokebox and brags that he is never late.

Toby, meanwhile, couldn’t care less. He’s on his way to the Works to have his worn parts mended. But as he clanks along the Main Line, he often needs to stop for a drink for his has small water tanks. However, when he comes to a station, a new signalman doesn’t recognise Toby and orders him to go onto the next station to clear the lines for James. Poor Toby tries hard, but his tanks run dry halfway. Toby’s fireman runs back and warns James about Toby. James is beside himself with rage when he is asked to push Toby ANDpull his train too! Grumbling dreadfully, he does as he is told, but he arrives at the Works Station late and exhausted. Some boys see the strange sight, and are convinced that Toby must have come to help James! This is the last straw for the red engine, who disappears in a cloud of smoke!

The Fat Controller's Engines

One evening, Thomas, Toby and Percy have been asked to join the other engines at the Big Station. As they are pondering the reason why, a cavalcade of engines from the Other Railway passes by (two being friends of Percy, known as Jinty and Pug). They follow on where all the other engines are waiting. The Fat Controller then announces that the people in London have read about their adventures in books, but don’t believe they exist. So, as they are to go to London to prove them wrong, the Other Railway Engines are to do their work while they re away.

Thomas helps Jinty shunt coaches, and began boasting about his great race with Bertie. But he becomes over excited and crashes into some buffers, damaging his front. The Fat Controller sends him to be mended, but if Thomas isn’t mended in time they shall have to leave without him…

Early next morning, the engines wait at the Junction. Gordon, Henry and James to lead off, Toby and Percy each on a truck, hauled by Edward and Duck. Just one minute before they leave, Thomas comes hurrying up with Annie and Clarabel. At last, they parade of engines set off on their long journey. The People of London are very impressed, and the Fat Controller’s Engines puff proudly home to the echoes of cheers.

The Eight Famous Engines

Audiobook - Read By Willie Rushton

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