Book 8 - Gordon The Big Engine - 1953
Summaries by R Healy
The second of Awdry's books to have a continuous storyline throughout saw Gordon the Big Engine running into trouble in the beginning of the book, then throughout working through his punishment, and finally winning back approval by being allowed to pull the Royal Train carrying HRH The Queen.
Off The Rails
Gordon prides himself on never having had an accident, unlike Henry who came off the rails whilst pulling the Flying Kipper, and is keen to emphasise the fact when Henry calls him "Fat Face". Gordon is later called upon to take a special whilst resting in a siding, but much to his horror, finds out it will involve taking trucks! He tries every trick to avoid having to do so, namely refusing to help his fire, meaning Edward has to push him to the turntable to be made ready. But Gordon has other ideas and tries to jam the table as he had done before. His plans go awry and he ends up slithering into a ditch and spending the remainder of the day there. The big engine is hauled free by Henry and James later that night, and crawls back to the shed in disgrace.
Gordon is cleaned following his run into the ditch, and later finds himself doing mundane jobs such as pulling trucks and shunting duties. James is required to do his Express Run in his place, and Gordon is quick to warn James about leaves on Gordon's Hill. Unwilling to listen to the warning, James goes on ahead and takes the Express. However he soon realises his mistake and ends up slipping on the leaves that have landed upon the line. He ends up struggling with the train, and Gordon ends up seeing everything that has happened. In the end, Gordon graciously lends a hand and pushes James up the hill with the train.
Down The Mine
Thomas makes rude comment about Gordon's accident by referring to a "Funny, musty sort of smell" which can only be "ditch water!". Gordon is cross about being reminded about the accident, but doesn't get a chance to answer. Thomas is sent to collect trucks to take a mine, where he decides to take a risk and go past a "DANGER" board. He knocks his driver and fireman off the footplate and when he goes past the board, ground opens up beneath him and he ends up falling down into a mine. Gordon comes to his aid and pulls him back onto the rails again. Both engines are now in disgrace, and find a common bond in their dilemmas. They decide to form an alliance, and help one another in future.
Paint Pots & Queens
The Queen is coming to visit the Railway and there is speculation over who will pull the Royal Train. Both Gordon and Edward know they will be ruled out of it, but Henry feels himself to be the best candidate in the running. His dreams of grandeur are scuppered however when an alteracation with a painter at the Big Station is knocked off his ladder and covers Henry in white paint. Gordon and Thomas are keen to see one another back in their proper places and so decide to ask the Fat Controller for his forgiveness. Knowing he'll need them both, the Fat Controller concedes and allows Gordon the privellege of pulling the Royal Train and Thomas of sorting things in the yard for the big day. Gordon feels immense pride as he pulls in with the Queen and it's a more than fitting way to show he is forgiven.