Gordon is a big blue express engine who works on the Main Line. He is Flying Scotsman's only remaining brother. Gordon is also one of the fastest and strongest engines on the Island of Sodor and his main task is to pull the Wild Nor' Wester, the railway's express train. At times, this leads him to feel superior.
The Railway Series
Gordon was built at Doncaster in 1922 as an experimental prototype for Sir Nigel Gresley's A1 Pacific design for the Great Northern Railway. Inevitably there were faults which needed correction; so Gordon was kept "hush hush" and apart from test runs, was never put into regular traffic or given a GNR number. He was used experimentally until all defects had been cured and the first batch of Pacifics had appeared in 1922/23. In 1923 therefore Gordon was no longer needed and was sold to the North Western Railway together with a spare boiler and firebox.
During Gordon's early years on the railway, he often looked down on the smaller engines like Edward and Thomas. However, he would soon find he needed help from Edward to be his banker after he got stuck on a hill with a train of trucks. He also needed Edward and Henry to pull his passenger train after he broke his safety valve in front of Henry's Tunnel.
Gordon often found Thomas very annoying for whistling rudely at him, so he taught him a lesson by bringing him along with his express train before he could be uncoupled. Thomas usually fetched the coaches for him, however, after Thomas left the yard when he was given a branch line, Gordon, along with Henry and James, soon found that they had to fetch their own coaches. After the big engines had several mishaps, one of which involved him having to pull his train backwards, Gordon proposed that they all go on strike, where they would only pull their coaches if another engine fetched them. Edward was the only engine left and since he was a tender engine and that Gordon proposed that tender engines do not shunt, they started to discriminate against Edward until the Fat Controller decided to leave them in the shed until they learned the error of their ways.
After Gordon, Henry and James saw how silly they were, the Fat Controller let them out, reminding them to behave and bought a tank engine named Percy to help fetch their coaches. Gordon almost had a run-in accident with Percy when he carelessly stood on the Main Line. After Percy ran away backwards and stopped in a pile of dirt, Gordon helped him out. Gordon was still arrogant and insulted Henry for the way he whistled. However, he ate his own words when his whistle jammed and he went running down the main line whistling continuously. He did not stop until a fitter climbed up and knocked his whistle in place.
Gordon is mainly used for passenger duties, pulling the North Western Railway's express, the Wild Nor' Wester, but has occasionally pulled goods trains, much to his dislike. He has been known to run into ditches and stop on hills to get out of doing these jobs, as he believes that these are below him.
In 1939, Gordon went to Crewe for a rebuild. His conjugated valve gear, which had been giving much trouble, was replaced by a two-cylinder chassis (designed by the Fat Controller) and he received a smoother running plate, as the new cylinders could not fit under the original. This rebuild effectively made him a hybrid with Stanier valve gear, running plate and cylinders, while the rest above was Gresley built.
Gordon has become famous after his adventures: In 1952, he was forbidden from pulling passenger trains following his incident in the ditch he caused, but after a period of good behaviour including saving Thomas after he fell down a mine and the two engines making an alliance of helping each other, by 1953, his punishment ended and he pulled Queen Elizabeth II's royal train. In 1956, he travelled to London, where he was lauded by a large crowd. Gordon did not like the visit, however, as he discovered that London's big station was St. Pancras, which he thought was King's Cross.
During City of Truro's visit in 1957, Gordon heard that the famous engine had reached 100 miles an hour and believed that he could go reach that speed. This resulted in him losing his dome on the viaduct. Later, when Diesel arrived on trial and was having trouble moving some old trucks, he accused Duck by making rumours about him giving Gordon a bad nickname, the "Galloping Sausage". As a result, Gordon, Henry and James began to turn against Duck by forbidding him from the shed. However, when the truth came out that Duck had not made the nicknames, they began to feel very silly about jumping to conclusions before knowing the true story.
In 1965, Gordon complained about BoCo going on the main line, because the diesel only works on Edward's Branch Line. He claimed that the Fat Controller would never agree and states that branch lines are vulgar. That night, Gordon's crew mistakenly believed that the passenger with a green hat was the guard waving his green flag. As a result, Gordon left with the majority of the passengers, the luggage and the guard stranded on the platform. Everyone was surprised, but the surprise quickly gave way to anger. This made Gordon so embarrassed, he brought his train back down to the big station as Edward was already late with his train. But the signalman at the junction was not told about the change. Because of this, Edward was sent to the main line and Gordon was sent down to Edward's branch line. He spent the night at Brendam and was teased by Bill and Ben of being a lot of old iron that should be scrapped. BoCo stopped them and Gordon gained respect for him.
In 1967, Gordon felt devastated to hear that his brothers and sisters were all scrapped on the Mainland, but happy to hear that his brother Flying Scotsman was preserved, when the Fat Controller brought him to reunite with Gordon.
Then, in 1986, Gordon heard about high speed trains on the Other Railway and believed that he could go faster than them. However, he had an excessive wheelslip and later covered wedding guests and the Fat Controller's top hat with soot. He managed to redeem himself and get the Express over his hill after his firebars collapsed and got to visit Carlisle when a Diesel taking a Railtour failed.
In 1995, Gordon had been hauling the Express when a flock of crows swooped in front of the train, resulting in one of them knocking the seal out of his front brake pipe.
As Gordon could not go far on the Other Railway due to a lack of waterpipes, he would have to change places with a diesel locomotive at Barrow, who would take the Wild Nor' Wester onwards to London. By the early 2000's, however, this wasted too much time and the timetable was considered too slow. Sir Stephen Hatt decided to buy Pip and Emma to run the service, as they are capable of doing a complete round trip every day, which he did so in 2010. Gordon now pulls The Sudrian and Courier trains, which he prefers as he can do two round trips per day instead of one and does not need to hurry.
Gordon's last train of the day stops at all the stations on the Main Line. One evening, delays on the Other Railway resulted in him being late. At Killdane, he encountered a fire and he urged his driver to do something; his driver used a hose to put out the fire with water from Gordon's tender. Following this, the Fire Brigade recommended him for The Queen's Fire Service Medal, which he is very proud of.
Thomas & Friends
Gordon has been, to date, the fastest engine on Sodor, but has sometimes had accidents, sometimes due to him trying to show off; In the fifth series, his brakes were not working and he could not stop, resulting in him crashing through the Kirk Ronan Station wall. Also, in the sixth series, he ignored Salty's advice about going slow while pulling trucks, resulting in him speeding down a rickety old branch line and tumbling into a field. Though he has proven to not be too big for his wheels and to be useful instead, like when Spencer first arrived on Sodor, he gave him advice about taking on water before going to Maron Station; however, after ignoring Gordon's advice, he ran out of water on Gordon's Hill and Gordon had to pull him from there. In the tenth series, he, along with Edward, criticised Rocky when he first arrived on Sodor and called him "new-fangled nonsense". Afterwards, when he crashed into Edward's pipes, which had fallen off his flatbeds, he derailed. Rocky came and lifted him back onto the rails and cleared the pipes, proving how useful he is.
Gordon once tried taking a shortcut in order to beat Stanley to Great Waterton, but accidentally crashed into Ben's logs, but luckily, saved Stanley from crashing into them on the track below. When Gordon was given the task of taking the Lion of Sodor to the Duke and Duchess of Boxford's Summer House with Ferdinand, he ignored his advice about going slowly over the Fenland, with the result of the statue falling into the muddy marsh. After the statue was cleaned, Gordon let Ferdinand be his front engine and they delivered the statue safely to the summer house. They have since then been good friends. One day, Gordon accidentally broke his buffer beam after colliding with a truck at the Dieselworks and Den and Dart gave him a yellow and black hazard buffer beam (similar to Den's), but Gordon refused to wear it until he later found that he can still be really useful as what Thomas said. One winter he, along with the rest of the Steam Team, had to find places to sleep, when the turntable at Tidmouth Sheds was frozen, so he decided to sleep there, in the one accessible berth, resulting in him getting stuck in there the next morning and remaining there for the rest of the day. He has since become a more sensible engine.
Once, he was waiting at Kellsthorpe Road Station while a workman was painting a telephone box on the other platform. But the man accidentally kicked his paint can onto the track next to Gordon, just as Connor raced through the station, splattering red paint all over Gordon. When Henry saw red spots all over Gordon, he assumed the blue engine had chicken pox. Later, as he was filling up with water, he told Philip to get on with his work and keep out of his way. He explained to Philip that he pulls the express and is very fast. As Gordon returned to Knapford with the express, Philip reversed back to the station as Gordon braked hard and told him that he nearly caused an accident. As he was resting in the yard, Philip challenged Gordon to a race and started to race away, but Gordon went back to resting instead of racing him. That night, Gordon was not very happy and decided to show Philip how fast he can go the next day and told him to have another race.
In the twentieth series, he was not ready to leave the sheds as his firebox had not been cleaned out the night before. As Henry was pulling the express, Gordon arrived into Knapford to fetch his train, but the Fat Controller scolded Gordon for coming in late and told him that he had been assigned to goods trains for the rest of the day. Gordon was grumpy as he arrived at Brendam Docks with his goods train. Salty, Porter and Cranky greeted him. Gordon was given a train of coal. When he returned to Knapford, he asked the Fat Controller if he could pull the express again, but he was told to go to the Blue Mountain Quarry instead. As he arrived at the quarry, Gordon was still in a bad mood as he collected a train of stone. As he began to leave, the trucks put their brakes on and then released them, causing Gordon to jump the points and hit a buffer stop. Finally fed up with his work, he ordered to be uncoupled so he could go back to the sheds. That night, the Fat Controller scolded him again for not doing all his jobs that day and ordered him to pull the Flying Kipper as punishment or else Henry would pull the express permanently. Henry and Thomas teased him about it not being an easy job, but Gordon was determined to prove them wrong and left the sheds to pull the Flying Kipper. As he returned to the sheds next morning, the Fat Controller praised him for successfully delivering the Kipper on time and told him that he could now go back to being the express engine again much to Gordon's delight. When the other engines noticed how smelly he was after pulling the Flying Kipper, he quickly went to the washdown whilst the other engines laughed.
In The Great Race, Gordon introduced Thomas to his brother, the Flying Scotsman, at Vicarstown and later teased Thomas for wanting to compete in the Great Railway Show, believing that he is too small to compete. Gordon was selected by the Fat Controller to participate in the Great Race and was temporarily streamlined for the event. However, he refused to undergo the final safety checks and as a result, the workmen forgot to attach his safety valve. Thomas brought it to the Mainland and tried to warn Gordon, but he competed in the race without it and his boiler exploded when he refused to heed Thomas and Flying Scotsman's warnings. Gordon had to drop out of the race as a result. After the Great Railway Show was over and all of the foreign engines (except for Ashima) had gone home, Gordon met up with Flying Scotsman, who admitted that his opinion on Sudrian engines has improved significantly since the race.
In the twenty-first series, he and Spencer loved to race to see who is the fastest. However, their boasting about led to Gordon saying that he is an important engine, as he started at Platform 1. Spencer then went to platform one and made Gordon move to Platform 2, where Spencer was supposed to be going to. Then, Thomas and Philip shunted Gordon and Spencer's coaches to them. Unfortunately, the coaches ended up for the wrong engines as the two were on the wrong platforms. This led to a mix up and the two both set off without realising that they had the wrong coaches. After they raced along the main line, Gordon stopped at Wellsworth with Spencer's Coaches while Spencer thundered down with the express and he realised that Spencer got the wrong express coaches and chased after him all the way to Callan Castle. This ended up upsetting the passengers because of how they missed their stops and they did not realise that they had the wrong coaches that they shunted on the platform for the first place. There, Gordon and Spencer took the passengers to the right stations and returned to Knapford and apologised to each other as they watched the fireworks all together. He also teased Philip about his number 68 painted on his sides and after sixty-eight sheep ran onto the track, Philip saved him from the sheep blocking the main line.
Teasing Thomas into derailing a train of tar tankers, Gordon got his comuppance when Thomas was told to take rotting fish wagons to Vicarstown. As it would make him late for Branch Line work, the little blue engine coupled them behind Gordon's coaches, as he was heading there anyways. Gordon was oblivious to them for the entire trip, right up until he got a greeting from Flying Scotsman, whose tip sent Gordon screaming Thomas's name to the sky. He still cared for Thomas though, and welcomed him back with Nia a few days later.
Gordon was very upset when Edward moved from Tidmouth to Wellsworth Sheds, even more so when Henry decided to move to Vicarstown Sheds. He was so upset about all the changes happening on the railway that he threw a tantrum in front of Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, Nia, Paxton and the Fat Controller and after failing to convince Edward to come back to Tidmouth once more, the Fat Controller sent him to his shed for his behaviour. However, Nia was able to calm Gordon down when she told him that change can be good and that if all her old friends will remain her friends, so will Edward and Henry. Despite bonding with Nia, Gordon was not very pleased to hear of another engine taking over Henry's berth in the sheds, which later turned out to be Rebecca. However, he later became good friends with her, after she retorted Flying Scotsman's teasing of him about being the 'little brother'.
After Rebecca coated herself in honey and produce, Gordon found himself with an uncontrollable urge to laugh. He kept it suppressed and hidden to keep his reputation until Sir Topham Hatt told him it was alright.
Thomas and the Magic Railroad
In the film, Gordon complained to Thomas, who was late and Thomas retorted that Gordon was being bossy and told him that he had to find Mr. Conductor, who was coming to visit Sodor to look after the North Western Railway while Sir Topham Hatt was taking a holiday. He thought Mr. Conductor was not needed until Diesel 10 sped through past Thomas and Gordon at Killaban. Later, he, James and Thomas argued about who should have taken Mr. Conductor and retorted that James is a big engine and Thomas is a small blue engine. Throughout the film, Gordon appears taking the express throughout the many lines, including the Main Line. The filmmakers thought that Gordon was the best in the role during the film.
Gordon's important position as the engine who pulls the Express has made him proud, pompous and self-important, with a good reason too; he is the fastest engine on Sodor. He is extremely proud of this and is inclined to boast. But despite his pompousness, he is goodhearted, always willing to forgive and uses his superior strength to help smaller engines out of trouble. Though he is also vengeful and will plot retribution if he feels he has been sufficiently slighted, as mentioned before he is happy to forgive especially after he has either had his retribution or the individual has received some other comeuppance. He also has a great hatred of goods trains, though not to the extent that James does.
Gordon’s philosophy "tender engines don't shunt" meant that he looked down on tank engines and tender engines who do shunt, but after being locked in the shed with Henry and James after going on strike and before the seventeenth series, he seemed to have abandoned this philosophy. However, because of his rank in the social order of the North Western Railway, Gordon expects to get the important passenger jobs and either sulk when he does not and/or gets jealous of engines who do.
Sometimes, Gordon acts like a bully, particularly towards Edward, but following misadventures where Edward had to help him, Gordon had to acknowledge that despite being old, Edward is still a very useful engine. However, Gordon still sometimes doubts Edward is still reliable, such as the time he did not believe Edward could win a race against Spencer as he is only a "back engine" and a "waste of steam". He soon stopped belittling Edward for good after being tricked by Thomas; he learned his lesson and apologised to Edward, saying that he promised not to call him old or unreliable anymore. Despite the way he treats Edward sometimes, deep down, Gordon cares a great deal about Edward and the other engines on the railway. This was especially shown when he was very upset after he learned that Edward and Henry moved out of Tidmouth Sheds to sleep elsewhere for their own reasons, thus indicating how much he missed them. He appears to have a hard time accepting change, but with help from his friends, he is able to pull through it.
Sometimes, Gordon shows a kinder side and gives the engines some advice, usually after he has had some mishap as a result of his foolhardiness. Some of his advice is not exactly helpful or honest, though, as James, Percy and Sir Handel have discovered.
As of the twentieth series, Gordon seems to have developed a tendency to pinning his own faults on others. This was shown when he blamed Henry over having to do his jobs for the day and vice-versa, even though his lateness was what led to the change in the first place. When he and the rest of the Steam Team got in trouble for refusing to leave the shed at night, believing there was a ghost train about (which was actually Henry with a coat of luminous paint), he once again blamed Henry for the predicament.
Despite being labelled as one of Sir Topham Hatt's more sensible engines, he can act senseless if prompted, which is quite often.
According to The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, Gordon is the experimental prototype for Sir Nigel Gresley's A1 Pacific design for the Great Northern Railway. Gordon was built at Doncaster Works in Yorkshire. Once the first batch of A1 Pacifics appeared in 1922 Gordon would have more than likely have been reclassified A1/1 - the '/1' indicating he is slightly different to the rest of the class.
Gordon, being an experimental engine, never received a number and was never put into regular traffic; he was only ever used on test runs. Owing to various problems, Gordon was rebuilt in 1939 at Crewe. Sir Topham Hatt and Sir William Stanier worked together to rectify these problems - everything under the running board is of Stanier's design while the running board itself is that of Sir Topham Hatt's. In both the Railway Series and television series, Gordon is depicted with a Fowler tender.
His valve gear is similar to that of the LMS Stanier Pacifics in the illustrations, but in the television series, he and Henry share the same valve gear.
According to his Meet the Contenders video, Gordon is an LNER A3 Pacific in the television series, just like Flying Scotsman and his other siblings.
As "The Shooting Star," Gordon's appearance is based on a streamlined Pennsylvania Railroad K4 (Hank's class), specifically #3768.
Pennsylvania Railroad K4 class
A Fowler tender
Gordon is painted in NWR bright blue with red and yellow lining. His number is painted on the sides of his tender in yellow with red lining and the lining around his cab windows is yellow. Before arriving on Sodor, he was painted in GNR apple green with white and black lining.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
In the sixteenth series episode, Bust My Buffers!, Gordon received a yellow and black hazard stripe painted bufferbeam akin to Den's. In The Great Race, in his streamlined form, he has painted in a lighter shade of NWR bright blue with silver, red and dark blue lining instead. His number was still painted on the sides of his tender in yellow but instead was smaller and surrounded by a dark blue circle.
In the Greek narration of the Classic Series, Gordon is called Johnny. From thirteenth series onwards, Gordon has been referred to with his original name.
According to the Rev. W. Awdry in the book The Thomas the Tank Engine Man, the reason why Gordon has square buffers is because not long after he got his new safety valve following the events of The Three Railway Engines, he was showing it off and not paying attention to his surroundings. He crashed into the end of the "Big Station" at Tidmouth, damaging his buffers and had to go to the Works to have them replaced. The only buffers available were long, square ones, which Gordon despised at first, but soon got used to them and became proud of being the only engine on the railway with square buffers. Then Henry had a similar incident to Gordon and got square buffers himself (explaining the illustration error in "Thomas and the Guard"), now the subject of buffers offends Gordon greatly when mentioned to him.
As of the CGI series, Gordon's catchphrases are "Oh, the indignity" and "Express coming through".
In the first series, Gordon had a winch that was first used to tow Percy, mounting over his centre lamp iron and front coupling. However, it disappeared after its second use, which was when he used it to rescue Thomas.
Gordon, Henry, Thomas and James are the only engines to appear in every special. The latter three, however, are the only ones to speak in every special.
Gordon has the most nicknames of any character, with a total amount of eleven.
From the first series to the twelfth series of the television series, Gordon had at least two face masks: disgusted and yawning; that were never shown on-screen.
He is the oldest member of the current Steam Team in terms of experience.