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"Once upon a time there was a little engine named Edward."
— The first line in the Railway Series

The Three Railway Engines is the first book of the Railway Series.


Edward's Day Out

The big engines are teasing Edward that he will not be allowed out because he is too weak, but when the driver sees him upset he offers to take him out. Edward goes to get some coaches, and, after a few moments of panic waiting for the guard, they start off and Edward has an enjoyable day.

Edward and Gordon

Gordon is bragging about pulling the express, but when Edward is shunting Gordon comes past with a long goods train. Gordon deliberately stalls at a hill and Edward comes as a "banker". At the top of the hill, Gordon races ahead and Edward gets puffed out, but is pleased at the prospect of a new coat of paint.

The Sad Story of Henry

One rainy day, Henry stops in a tunnel and refuses to move. His crew, the passengers, another engine and even the Fat Director try to get him to move, but to no avail. Eventually, they have him bricked up, and they bore a new tunnel.

Edward, Gordon and Henry

Gordon is pulling the Express when he bursts his safety valve outside Henry's tunnel. Edward tries to pull the train, but cannot. The Fat Director lets Henry out of the tunnel so that he and Edward can pull the train. They later help Gordon home, and Henry is rewarded with a new blue coat.




  • The first three stories were first told and written in 1943, but as the UK was in the midst of World War II, they could not be published until 1945.
  • The Reverend W. Awdry did not intend for the first three stories to be based on the same railway, but his publishers pressured him to bring Edward, Gordon and Henry together for a happy ending.
  • In the Middleton illustration, the Red Engine is in-between Gordon and 87546. In the Dalby illustration, the Red Engine switched positions with 87546.
  • This book was first illustrated by William Middleton, but was later re-illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby from the eighth edition onwards in October 1949.
  • The 1998 Egmont edition included a foreword message by Christopher Awdry.
  • An illustration from The Sad Story of Henry was released as a Royal Mail stamp in 2011 to mark the Reverend Awdry's Centenary.
  • The book was released digitally for Apple products on May 11th, 2012.
  • A 70th Anniversary print was released on April 16th, 2015.
  • The fourth illustration of Edward's Day Out features a coach without a front coupling. Awdry explained that one of the big engines was pulling the coaches so roughly that the coupling fell off. When Edward arrived to collect the coaches, they had not fitted a new coupling and hook. This took some time, so the guard went off home to his "elevenses". This also explains as to why Edward was waiting for his guard.
  • Edward and Gordon is based on the real life events of trains stalling on the Lickey Incline near where the Awdry family lived in King's Norton.
  • The Sad Story of Henry was based on a real event in the 19th century where an engine broke down in a tunnel in America and was left inside.
  • The BBC originally tried to adapt The Sad Story of Henry for television in 1953 using 00 gauge models, but it did not fare well. One of the points had not been set so Henry derailed, and as this was during the days of live television, the viewers (including the publisher Eric Marriot) were surprised to see a large hand pick up the train and place it back on the rails.


  • In the first illustration of "Edward's Day Out", Gordon, 98462 and 87546 have yellow stripes instead of red ones.
  • In the second and third illustrations of "Edward's Day Out" a post appears between 87546 and Gordon.
  • In the third illustration of "Edward's Day Out" Gordon is missing his tender.
  • In the fourth illustration of "Edward's Day Out" Edward collects three coaches, but in the next illustration, he has five coaches with him.
  • In "Edward's Day Out" the shed has six berths, but in the first illustration of "Edward and Gordon" the shed has seven berths.
  • Throughout the book Henry loses and gains trailing wheels. His correct wheel arrangement is 4-6-2.
  • As Henry runs into the tunnel Edward puffs through the other bore. However, when the passengers attempt to pull Henry out Edward is still puffing along in the direction he first came.
  • It is stated that a second bore was dug after Henry was shut up, but in all the illustrations prior there were two bores shown.
  • In the final illustration a man paints the top of Henry's tender, from ground level. Others are painting his boiler, but they are standing on his valence.
  • In the final illustration Gordon has circular buffers.
  • Gordon's steampipes continuously disappear and re-appear.
  • Gordon is portrayed as already having LMS running gear, square buffers and a six-wheel Fowler tender.
  • In the second illustration of "Edward's Day Out" Gordon's boiler is shorter than it should be.
  • In the first illustration of Edward, Gordon and Henry Gordon's buffers are black instead of white.

In Other Languages

Language Book/Story Name Meaning
Japanese Edward's Day Out 楽しい日 Fun Day
Japanese The Sad Story of Henry 病弱なヘンリー Sickly Henry