Book 42 - Thomas & His Friends - 2011
Summaries by R Healy
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his father’s birth, Christopher Awdry penned the 42nd volume in the Railway Series – tying up loose ends which he had ‘promised’ in Sodor: Reading Between The Lines in 2005. Thomas & His Friends is a mixed volume featuring stories from across the railway, but with the undercurrent storyline of having Pip & Emma coming to the railway permanently to run an Express service to London – it concludes with The Rev Awdry’s bust unveiled at Tidmouth Station by a Prince.
Thomas & The Swan
The Fat Controller proudly announces that Pip and Emma will be joining the railway, and running a special Express service from the Big Station all the way to London. There’s another surprise waiting for Thomas on the bridge crossing the river – a large white object is blocking his path, and his Driver and Fireman have to move it. At first they assume it’s only a load of paper, but are given the shock of their lives when it begins flapping it’s wings and hissing at them – it’s actually been an injured swan all along! Thomas’s crew take it to a nearby vet, and when fully recovered, Thomas takes the swan to the river to set it free again.
It’s winter, and Donald and Douglas are hauling trucks of ballast from the Little Western for James to deliver on the Main Line. However, after one of these trips – when running around, Donald ends up sliding along icy rails and hitting the buffers at the end of a siding. Although they know he’s not the one at fault, Donald is still teased by the other engines. On the day the repair work is ending, Douglas delivers the last load of trucks to James – and moves down the siding where the workmen are finishing the new buffers. Douglas is impressed at their workmanship, but as he prepares to stop, nothing happens. With a smash of wood, he bursts through the new buffers and upsets a pot of red paint all over himself. The furious Foreman scolds Douglas and swipes paint right across his nose – which the Fat Controller leaves on as a reminder for him to be more careful in sidings in future!
Gordon's Fire Service
Gordon and Henry are discussing the services to London with Pip and Emma. Gordon is dismayed at the lack of water towers on the Other Railway, but both are curious about the new modern electric engines that run there. On his last journey of the day, Gordon is stopped after leaving the Electric branch line by a man beside the line – a hay bale is on fire down on the roadside. Gordon urges the crew to let him help – and he does so by using his own water to douse the flames before the Fire Brigade arrive. Everyone is proud of Gordon, and for his heroism, he’s given the Queen’s Fire Service Medal. Gordon takes a special pride in knowing that although Electric Engines are fast and silent – steam engines like him still have their uses too!
The Fat Controller announces that the Railway is going to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Thin Clergyman by unveiling a bust of him in the Big Station. However, his plans for the big event are put in jeopardy – when a landslide blocks Henry’s tunnel and severs Sodor’s links with the Mainland. All trains now have to terminate at the Works Station, and nothing can come in or out of Sodor from the Mainland end. Percy is confused though – he thinks the Thin Clergyman is broken, until Thomas explains what the Fat Controller meant about a ‘bust’, and what one actually is. Eventually, the tunnel is cleared, and Pip and Emma proudly bring the very important visitors to unveil the bust at the Big Station. The Prince, who unveils the bust addresses the engines, speaks highly of the Thin Clergyman’s stories, and their railway. He reminds everyone that “There will never be anything like it anywhere.”