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This article is about 'the Railway Series book'. You may be looking for 'the engine, the Story Library book, the Engine Adventures book, the magazine story, or the song'.

""Gordon was spotless, and his brass shone. Like Edward, he was decorated with flags, but on his buffer beam he proudly carried the Royal Arms.""
— Describing Gordon when he pulls the Queen's train.

Gordon the Big Engine is the eighth book of the Railway Series.


Dear Ian,
You asked for a book about Gordon. Here it is. Gordon has been naughty, and Sir Topham Hatt was stern with him.

Gordon has now learned his lesson and is a Really Useful Engine again.
The Author


Off the Rails

Gordon is grumpy after being told to take a goods train and his fire is slow, so Edward takes him to the turntable. Gordon attempts to "jam" the table, but instead breaks through a fence and slides into a ditch. Edward takes the special instead and Gordon is left in the ditch until nightfall when Henry and James finally pull him out.


After a long tedious wash-down, Gordon is forbidden from pulling coaches and told to shunt trucks until he behaves and he begins to order the trucks about. Later, he tries to warn James that the hill is slippery from leaves. James simply laughs, but soon regrets it when the coaches drag him down the hill. Gordon takes pity and helps James up again.

Down the Mine

Thomas teases Gordon for falling into a ditch, and carries on even after Annie and Clarabel rebuke him. Thomas then goes to the lead mines to shunt trucks. Thomas concocts a plan to go past a "danger" board and falls through a weak spot in the ground. Gordon, who laughs when he finds out, comes to the rescue and on the way home, the two form an alliance.

Paint Pots and Queens

The queen is coming to Sodor and Henry brags that he will be chosen to take the Royal Train, but these plans are soon put to rest when Henry disturbs a painter and a paint pot falls onto him. Meanwhile, Thomas and Gordon apologise to the Fat Controller for being silly and he allows Gordon to pull the Royal Train. On the big day, Thomas gets the coaches ready and Edward clears the line in front. The Queen meets all the engines and talks personally to Thomas, Edward and Gordon, but the latter feels proudest of all.




  • One of the illustrations from "Paint Pots and Queens" was painted by Clive Spong for the 1983 Island of Sodor Map.
  • "Down the Mine" is based on a real event that took place at Lindal-in-Furness in 1892. Though in this particular event, the collapsing mine hole was miles deep and all that was recovered of the Furness Railway engine, number 115, was its tender.
  • "Off the Rails" is based on a real event that took place at Lynn on 9 August 1952.
  • "Paint Pots and Queens" is based on two events, one where a station painter was unsighted by locomotive smoke in Preston and the other where HM Queen Elizabeth II arrived on a train at Llandrindod Wells in 1952, the year she took the throne, is very reminiscent of the scenes in Sodor the following year, after her Coronation in 1953.


  • In "Off the Rails":
    • In the third illustration, James' wheels are red.
    • In the final illustration, Gordon, Henry and James' faces disappear.
  • In the seventh illustration of "Leaves", James has six coaches, but in the next picture he has five.
  • In the first illustration of "Paint Pots and Queens", James is portrayed with a 4-6-0 wheel configuration and should Henry move forward, he would collide with the shed support pillar. Also in the final illustration, Percy's dome and tank lid are missing.
  • In the original first copy of this book, Wilbert Awdry claimed that the publishers had luckily managed to fix the typo made in "Down The Mine". The text read: Thomas squealed crossly at the sound of his brakes were applied. The changes had been fixed in later copies.

In Other Languages

Language Book/story Name Meaning
Norwegian Gordon the Big Engine Thomas og Gordon bli venner Thomas and Gordon Become Friends
Norwegian Off the Rails Gordon går skeis Gordon Goes Off the Rails
Norwegian Leaves Gordon Har Skating Gordon Does Skating
Norwegian Down the Mine I Mine In the Mine
Norwegian Paint Pots and Queens Dronningen kommer på besøk The Queen Comes to Visit