Book 31 - Gordon The High Speed Engines - 1987
Summaries by D Howells
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.
High Speed Gordon
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 Proves His Point
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.