- “I suffer dreadfully and no one cares.”
- ―Henry complaining very sadly
Coal, retitled Henry's Special Coal in American releases, is the eighteenth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Henry the Green Engine.
One morning, Henry wakes up feeling very ill. He complains about it to James, who grumpily shrugs it off as Henry being lazy. The Fat Controller is also unhappy about this, given this is the latest in a long line of problems with Henry and not even new parts or paint seem to help. He warns the green tender engine that if he does not get better soon he will have to be replaced, much to the dismay of him and his crew.
Later, as Henry prepares to take his first train, the Fat Controller, determined to get to the bottom of Henry's problems, decides to ride along in the cab while taking off his top hat and putting on a crewman's uniform. Henry manages to start, but the fireman is not pleased and notes that Henry's fire does not give enough heat. As a result, Henry quickly loses steam, and has to rest when he reaches Edward's station, leaving Edward to take care of the train. Henry's crew and the Fat Controller continue to discuss what the problem is. They then discover the root of the problem; the coal provided is unsuitable for him. While the other engines have big fireboxes, Henry's is too small to make the amount of heat needed for him to run properly. But if Henry had Welsh coal, he would easily improve. So although it will be expensive, the Fat Controller decides to send James for some Welsh coal.
When the coal arrives, the fireman carefully stokes up Henry's fire to give the best possible results. Henry initially has his doubts, but his mood changes as he comes into the platform with more than enough steam. The Fat Controller is happy to see that Henry is feeling well, and warns the driver not to push him. The driver assures him not to worry: in fact, he will have to hold him back.
For the first time, Henry makes it to the junction before Thomas. When Thomas arrives, Henry calls him "lazybones" before quickly running off, paying Thomas back for insulting him before. Thomas, too surprised to be cross, reacts with disbelief and Annie and Clarabel concur to him.
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Stock footage from Edward, Gordon and Henry and Troublesome Trucks and a deleted scene from The Flying Kipper are used.
- A rare picture implies that James may have been intended to play a larger role in this episode; this picture can be found on the back cover to the 1990 release of American VHS James Learns a Lesson and Other Stories, albeit mirrored. Another shows that Henry was to pull the express coaches instead of the old ones.
- At the beginning of the episode, the source of James' smoke is visible.
- Because stock footage is used, the Fat Controller is smiling when he tells Henry that he might have to be replaced.
- As Edward backs onto the train, his eyes repeatedly bounce up and down.
- In the close-up of Henry's fireman holding a piece of coal, a piece of blu tack is visible sticking the coal to his hand, and another one is keeping one of his arms attached to his body.
- When Henry's fireman says "Wait and see. We'll have a roaring fire, just when we want it," blu-tack is visible below his right arm. In that same scene, a part of Henry's paintwork is blue (this is because the large scale tender is really Gordon's covered with green vinyl).
- In the last close-up scene of Henry, he is in his new shape.
- As Henry leaves Knapford, the truck at the top of the platform changes into a van and steam rises in between his coaches.
- Throughout the episode, Henry's coaches keep changing their places and positions:
- When Henry collects his coaches from Knapford and approaches Edward's station, the first class composite coach is in the middle of the train. However, when Henry stops next to the platform, the first class coach is suddenly at the front.
- When Henry makes his first journey with the Welsh coal, he starts out of the station with the brake coach at the front of the train. However, when Henry is out on the open line, the brake coach is suddenly the rear one. Then, when Henry approaches the bridge, the brake coach is suddenly facing the other way round for the rest of the episode.
- When Henry starts out of Knapford with his Welsh coal, the first class composite coach is at the rear of the train. However, as Henry passes the bus yard and approaches the bridge, the first class coach is the middle coach. Then, when Henry passes under the bridge, the first class coach is at the front of the train for the remainder of the episode. This is due the left side being green and the other side being orange when the series was first made and the other side becomes visible when Henry goes around the bend.
- In the restored version, when Henry backs into the siding, his tender hits the station building, a few chuffing sounds are heard even after he stops, and he leaves the siding soon afterward. Also, Edward does not start moving despite his whistle and puffing sound being heard. Then in the next scene, Henry is back to his original position. This is a deleted scene, and as of 2020, this scene has yet to be fixed officially.
- The narrator says that Henry stopped outside Edward's Station. However, his train has stopped at the platform.
- When Henry passes the goods yard, blu tack can be seen under a workman's shoes.
- In the final scene, during the close up of Thomas' face, viewers can see behind his eye.
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