Henry is a green mixed-traffic tender engine who works on the Main Line. He was originally a failed prototype engine, and needed special Welsh coal to operate properly. Following his accident when pulling The Flying Kipper, Henry underwent an extensive rebuild, giving him a new shape.
The Railway Series
Henry's precise origins are uncertain. The story goes that he was built from drawings stolen from Sir Nigel Gresley at Doncaster about 1919 by an anonymous locomotive builder who held a grudge against him and desired to steal a march on him. His spy, however, blundered and took the wrong drawings; they were for an experimental engine, but were supposed to be for the new "Pacific" locomotives Gresley was designing at the time. The thief realised his mistake too late and Henry was built, with many resulting flaws and a superficial likeness to Gresley's Pacifics.
The thief was delighted to unload his "White Elephant" on to the first desperate customer who came along - The Fat Controller. He had intended to buy a Robinson "Atlantic" of the Great Central Railway, but was tricked into purchasing Henry in 1922 instead and had no choice but to keep him due to the railway being desperate for locomotives.
Henry was vain and stopped in the Ballahoo Tunnel and refused to come out, citing that his paintwork would be spoiled by the rain. After several attempts to move him failed, he was bricked up in the tunnel until Gordon broke down while pulling the Express. As Edward was unable to move the train himself, the Fat Controller offered to let Henry out of the tunnel to help. Henry eagerly accepted.
Henry performed very well and the Fat Controller promised him a new coat of paint, since Henry's existing paintwork had been spoiled more by his stay in the tunnel than it would have been by the rain. Henry asked to be painted blue like Edward. However, many people confused him with Gordon, to the bigger engine's annoyance. The matter was worsened after a trip to the Works when Henry was given spares of Gordon's buffers. Sometime before 1935, Henry, when again offered new paint, chose green and so ended the Gordon/Henry confusion.
Unfortunately, Henry was to suffer humiliation when he was hosed with water by an elephant he frightened. After Gordon and James had suffered humiliations of their own (and all three had become thoroughly fed up having to do their own shunting and fetch their own coaches), the big engines went on strike. The Fat Controller naturally disapproved of this nonsense and locked them up in the shed for several days, leaving them miserable. However, they were let out again after promising to work hard.
The poor engine and his system, which was already finicky at best due to design flaws, never really recovered from his stay in the tunnel. Henry developed steaming problems, which he complained about constantly, though he found little sympathy, especially when it caused him to run late.
A period came when the Main Line engines were supplied with a poor delivery of coal and Henry had a very difficult time of it indeed. He had strength to pull trains only sporadically, in spite of numerous parts replacements. At last, the Fat Controller looked into it personally and asked for the opinion of Henry's fireman, who told him about the poor coal and Henry's firebox being too small to burn it efficiently. The fireman also suggested purchasing the high-grade Welsh coal used on the Great Western Railway. Sir Topham Hatt agreed to purchasing some in order to give Henry "a fair chance".
When the Welsh coal came, Henry's performance vastly improved, such that he was comparable to Gordon. He continued to use the coal until he had a collision with a goods train at Killdane while pulling the Flying Kipper and was sent to Crewe to be rebuilt in 1935. Henry was rebuilt into a Stanier 5MT. The Fat Controller had connections with Sir William Stanier, so this is likely the reason he managed to get Henry rebuilt so quickly. Besides being given a new shape, Henry also received a larger firebox, allowing him to use regular coal again.
After returning, Henry was added to the rotation for the Express and pulled it so well that he made Gordon jealous. Gordon tried to get even by rudely criticising Henry for whistling loudly at stations, but he had to eat his words later that day after his own whistle valve jammed open. Some time later, Henry was taking a slow train. As he passed under a bridge, three boys he had assumed to be railfans dropped stones onto him and his coaches. He paid them out on his return journey by "sneezing" ashes that collected in his smokebox at them.
When Queen Elizabeth II was due to visit Sodor in 1953, Henry (justifiably) assumed that he was the Fat Controller's choice to pull the Royal Train. But the day before, while he was idling at the station, his smoke blinded a painter, who fell along with his paint pot onto Henry. The paint splashed over Henry's boiler and as painting over it would take too long, Gordon was given the job instead.
When Duck arrived in 1955 to take over Percy's duties as station pilot, Henry, along with Gordon and James, teased him and tried to give him orders, as they had been doing to Percy. With Percy's help, Duck blocked the big engines from entering the shed. The Fat Controller arrived and told the two tank engines off for causing a disturbance. Henry and the others laughed - until the Fat Controller shouted for silence and told them that they had been worse, as they had made the disturbance. He told them that Duck was right - he, Sir Topham Hatt, is in charge and he gives the orders; Henry respected Duck more after that.
Sometime after this period, Henry gained a Fowler tender for unknown reasons. By this time, Henry once acted rudely with the engines at Barrow-in-Furness while in the middle of a conversation with Percy, calling him and them: "silly things" and challenging Percy's statement that he did not fear water. Percy retaliated by reminding Henry about his stay in the tunnel, but Percy was shown wrong when he accidentally ended up smokebox-first in the sea at Knapford Harbour. When Percy was to be sent at the works the next day, Henry ridiculed Percy; telling him that he would be braver the next time he plunged into the sea, but Percy was quite determined that there would not be a next time.
Henry would then later accompany the engines to England.
Henry's good opinion of Duck would be briefly spoilt in 1957. He and the other main line engines were growing very tired of Duck's incessant talk about the Great Western Railway following City of Truro's visit. A diesel sent to the island on trial quickly developed a grudge against Duck and spread nasty stories about the main line engines to the trucks, stories he falsely claimed that Duck had told him. Furious at being called "Old Square Wheels", Henry joined Gordon and James in barring Duck from the shed just like what Duck and Percy had done previously. He felt sorry a few days later when he became the next target of Diesel's slander and when Duck returned after preventing an accident, Henry cheered for him loudly.
When Gordon started feeling depressed in 1967, Henry, who thought Gordon was just moaning and groaning, teased him and told him he should get a wash-out and would feel much better. When Gordon's brother Flying Scotsman visited Sodor, Henry was jealous of the visitor's second tender. Duck and Donald explained and while Henry took the point he still was vain enough to want an additional tender. Deciding to bring Henry down to earth, Duck told the big engine that he had in his possession not one, but six spare tenders, which, as a tank engine, he had no need of. Henry accepted and all the engines waited to see him go past. But instead of a splendid sight, the tenders were old, rusted and full of boiler sludge. Gordon mocked him with a comment about wash-outs.
Henry was so frustrated that the day after 7101 and 199 arrived on trial, he became so hot that his regulator fused wide open and his driver had to use the reverser to control him. On his return journey (no train), he stopped at a signal box next to 199, who had a train of fuel tankers. The signalman told them that 199, who he nicknamed "Spamcan", had failed and that he needed to be moved out of the way to clear the line for the "Limited". Henry pulled the train clear, but shortly afterwards, 7101's ejector failed and the "Limited" ground to a halt. Henry then volunteered to help move both trains. Luckily all he had to do for 7101 was keep the vacuum brakes off, but it was still hard work. The cavalcade made it to a station where Flying Scotsman waited to take the coaches and Donald to take the goods. Henry brought 7101 to the Works afterwards and following this valiant rescue, he was no longer teased during for the Tender incident. Henry also cheered for the arrival of Oliver and Toad several days later.
Later, when Gordon needed new tubes, Henry pulled the express, but soon fell ill as well. This left the job of the express to Thomas, Percy and Duck. A while later, Henry had to pull an extra long Flying Kipper and Duck had to help him up Gordon's Hill, but due to a tail-lamp falling off the rear van, Duck accidentally crashed into the train.
During the subject of paint colours, Henry commented on how he hated to be red and look like a fire engine. The next day, he was rough with his coaches and resulted in breaking the drawbar between him and his tender. Because of his separated source of water, his fireman was forced to throw out the fire, which set the sleepers alight. After the fire brigade put out the flames, Henry never made rude comments on fire engines again.
In 1985, Henry complained to Thomas the time that the Viaduct had gone under repairs, when Thomas became impatient with his connection between the main line engines and his branch line. Later when bringing passengers for Thomas, the tank engine ran away.
In 1986, when Gordon accidentally blew ashes when his smokebox was clogged, Henry suggested that Gordon should have a good "sneeze", but Gordon reminded Henry that The Fat Controller did not like Henry's sneeze. He also pulled the express when Gordon slipped on the icy rails and befriended Pip and Emma.
When Thomas had been invited to the Great Railway Show, he was angry that he was not chosen and later teased Percy that Thomas was old enough to become a museum piece.
In 1992, during the time when the railway began using a new type of coal, Henry began having problems with it, resulting in his smokebox door to be pasted with damp shredded newspaper when hot ashes damaged it. He was to head to Crovan's Gate with James on the Express, but after crossing the Viaduct one of the steel rims on his driving wheel broke off and shattered a window on one of the coaches. He was taken off and managed to get to the Works. After his repairs, he was given an undercoat of red paint, but before the green could be applied he was called out to pull the Express. Despite his looks, he managed to pull the train, even getting up Gordon's Hill on his own and returned home with his finished coat of green.
He later fretted over the Golden Jubilee despite Duck, Daisy, James and Donald trying to cheer him up.
During one winter, he was tasked with working with Spencer to deliver trucks to Vicarstown. But Spencer teased him by making him think there was an abominable snowman on Sodor. After they had delivered their trucks, they both saw a strange white figure stumbling around on the tracks in front of them. Thinking it was the abominable snowman, Spencer tried to run away, but his valves burst, so Henry stood his ground and tried to make the snowman go away. Luckily, it was only the Fat Controller who ended up running into trouble in the heavy snow.
One night, he saw Sailor John and Skiff rolling along the line and got a big fright, thinking Skiff was a ghost ship. Some of the engines teased him about it, even though he insisted the boat was real.
In the twentieth series, Henry had to pull the express for Gordon while he was having his firebox cleaned in the morning. He was initially hesitant but enjoyed himself, especially after the passengers stated he was much friendlier than Gordon. Later, Henry was having a repaint at the Steamworks when Kevin gave him the wrong paint. Henry puffed into the night, his new paintwork glowing in the dark, causing his friends to think they had seen a ghost train. The Fat Controller realised that Henry had the wrong paint and told him to return to the Steamworks for some proper green paint, while praising Henry for being the only engine working as all the others were too scared to come out of the shed.
Henry would later go to the Mainland and be a part of the Great Railway Show, competing in the Strongest Engine Race. After the race, he met up with the other engines and informed them that he came in fifth. Philip congratulated him, only for Henry to reveal that there were only five engines.
In Journey Beyond Sodor, Henry was due to go back to the Mainland with a goods train. However, a faulty signal caused him to crash into the back of Hiro's train. After being rescued by the Breakdown Train, the Fat Controller arranged James to take his train while Henry is being repaired. However, Thomas ended up taking the train before James could and James only went when Thomas did not return. At the end of the film, Henry was fully repaired and returned to the sheds while the others finished singing The Most Important Thing is Being Friends, to which he asked, "What did I miss?"
In the film, Henry had suffered from boiler trouble due to deposits left by fumes from Diesel 10. This time, his sickness was cured by "Sodor coal". Henry was one of the few engines who knew the 'legend' about Lady was true as for he was the first to acknowledge the fact that Diesel 10 was looking for her. Later, Thomas found Henry with a boiler ache and offered to collect trucks of Sodor coal to make Henry feel better.
Henry is generally well-behaved and friendly, but is sometimes arrogant. Henry is at heart, a very hard worker, but his frequent bouts of illness hinder his work. His illnesses almost always have something to do with his boiler. Unlike Gordon and James, Henry does not mind pulling trucks, especially as he is a mixed traffic engine, although when he is given the job of pulling the express whenever Gordon is unable to, this can get to his smokebox and he can act full of himself.
In the television series, Henry has been portrayed with a much kinder and softer personality. He has been shown as a nature-lover as evidenced in Henry's Forest. This personality carried on throughout the more recent series with Henry being occasionally a tree-hugging engine too as he tried to prevent the tall pine tree and the wishing tree from being cut down.
In the newer series, Henry is portrayed as not too bright and sometimes really worrisome, as shown in multiple episodes. This worrisome personality was also featured in The Adventure Begins, which greatly contrasts to the original version of The Sad Story of Henry. He has shown instances when he was either moody, arrogant and vain, but proud, strong and witty, much like the earlier series.
Henry is the most likely to be respectful to smaller engines such as Edward, Percy, Thomas, and Toby on a regular basis. He does not frequently antagonize his fellow friends, and usually shows remorse for his actions. Because of this, he is often considered much more friendly than Gordon and James.
Henry's history is unusual. The Fat Controller had intended to buy a Robinson Atlantic of the Great Central Railway, but was swindled and instead received Henry. He was built from rejected plans for Sir Nigel Gresley's A1 with the added design of an LNER C1 Atlantic. The plans were stolen from Gresley by an anonymous rival. The resulting engine had a superficial likeness to Gordon, but aesthetics were as far as this went. Henry in this shape developed performance issues from flaws in the design, compounded by his stay in the tunnel. Henry was a bad steamer: with good-quality coal he could get enough heat to make plenty of steam, but when there was a poor lot delivered, his undersized firebox could not hold enough coal to make a proper fire. On advice from Henry's fireman, the Fat Controller ordered high-grade Welsh Coal, which made an appreciable difference in Henry's performance. When Henry suffered an accident and severe damage that winter, the opportunity was taken to send him to Crewe, where he was rebuilt an LMS Stanier 5MT "Black Five" 4-6-0. After "The Eight Famous Engines," Henry's LMS Stanier 5MT tender was replaced by a Fowler tender.
In the television series, Henry has always had a one-window cab with an LNER-style tender. The differences between his shapes were removed splashers, the Belpaire firebox replacing the tapered, added steampipes beneath his smokebox, and a top feed. This was done to ease the changeover to his "Black Five"-esque appearance. However, Henry kept his parallel boiler instead of the tapered one that the Black Fives had. He later regained a full set of splashers in Series 2 onwards. The grey and purple tender engines are also members of this class.
Eighteen members of the class have survived into preservation. Several members of this class survived until the end of steam on British Railways in 1968. Two class members, 44781 and 44871, were used to haul the Fifteen Guinea Special on August 11, 1968. 44871 has survived into preservation whereas sister engine 44781 was purchased for use in the film, The Virgin Soldiers, and was scrapped after being used in a train scene disguised as a continental locomotive.
Henry is painted in NWR apple green 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.
He was repainted in NWR sky blue with red and yellow lining at the end of "The Three Railway Engines" and remained so until the beginning of Troublesome Engines, when he was given back his own livery to avoid him being too similar to Gordon. In Henry and the Express, he was briefly painted orange-red as an undercoat before his standard green coat was applied. In Henry in the Dark, he was accidentally painted with a glow in the dark green livery.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
In the learning segment, Being Repainted, he had a cream undercoat.
Henry has appeared in the Railway Series more than any other engine, having been in both the most books and the most individual stories.
The mention of Henry having originally been ordered as a GCR Robinson Atlantic in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways is based on Awdry's original illustrations of The Three Railway Engines, which depict him as a 4-4-2.
Henry, Thomas and James are the only characters to speak in every special. They, along with Gordon are the only characters to appear in every special.
According to the online video "Still the Best of Friends", the official reason Henry relocated to Vicarstown was to be closer to his work, referring to his taking trains to the Mainland in Tale of the Brave and Journey Beyond Sodor.
Although he does not have a Fowler tender in the television series, some merchandise of him have him with said tender.
Henry is the only former Steam Team member who does not appear in the Meet the Steam Team videos.
Henry was called Henri in the French dub of the first seven series.
Henry's original whistle was the same shape as Gordon's.