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For other uses, see James.

“James was a new engine who lived at a station at the other end of the line. He had two small wheels in front and six driving wheels behind. They weren't as big as Gordon's and they weren't as small as Thomas'.”
― The introduction to James

James the Red Engine is the third book of The Railway Series.


Dear friends of Edward, Gordon, Henry and Thomas,
Thank you for your kind letters. Here is the new book for which you asked.

James, who crashed in the story of Thomas the Tank Engine, settles down and becomes a Useful Engine.

We are nationalised now, but the same engines still work the Region. I am glad, too, to tell you that the Fat Director, who understands our friends' ways, is still in charge, but is now the Fat Controller.

I hope you will enjoy this book, too.
The Author


James and the Top-Hat

James has recovered from his accident and now has a new coat of red paint. He starts learning how to pull passenger trains with Edward. At the platform, he accidentally showers water over the Fat Controller's new top-hat and then, afraid of the consequences, starts off suddenly. During the run, he almost forgets to drop off his passengers and to top everything off he disturbs an old lady with his hiccups after hearing about the time Edward had to help Gordon up the hill. That night, James is scared of what the Fat Controller will say.

James and the Bootlace

James was grumpy after being threatened to be painted blue and having to fetch his own coaches. He is further annoyed when no one comes near him at the platform, and he becomes so determined to pay everyone out that he does not take care with his coaches, causing a leak in the brake-pipe. The crew decides that they need newspaper and leather bootlaces to fix it until they get home. After much persuasion, a man named Jeremiah Jobling hands his bootlaces over, and the train manages to get home.

Troublesome Trucks

James is shut up for several days for his bad behaviour, but when the Fat Controller comes to see him, James apologises and is let out to take a goods train. The trucks play tricks on James and break away on Gordon's Hill, but James tries again and with some support from Edward, gets the train to Killdane. The Fat Controller is pleased and allows James to keep his red paint.

James and the Express

Gordon brags that he knows the right line by "instinct", but is proven wrong when he is switched off the Main Line onto the loop. The Fat Controller asks James to take the Express and after a successful run and the promise of being allowed to take the Express, James returns to see Gordon shunting. The two become friends and Gordon refrains from teasing James about the bootlace incident.


James and the Top-Hat

James and the Bootlace

  • James
  • Orange-Brown Non-Corridor Coaches
  • Sir Topham Hatt I
  • Jeremiah Jobling
  • Gordon (mentioned)

Troublesome Trucks

James and the Express

  • Gordon
  • James
  • Orange-Brown Non-Corridor Coaches
  • Sir Topham Hatt I
  • Henry (does not speak)


Full Book

James and the Top-Hat

James and the Bootlace

  • Tidmouth

Troublesome Trucks

  • Gordon's Hill
  • Killdane (illustrated as Wellsworth)

James and the Express


  • Wilbert Awdry often stated that this was his least favourite book, as he had written it to meet a deadline rather than from experience.
  • When Reginald Payne proved unavailable to illustrate this book, Wilbert Awdry decided to illustrate it himself. He was unable to draw humans and scenery, so he turned to Barbara Bean, the headmistress of the Knapwell Church of England School whose hobby was sketching. Although Bean knew nothing of railways, she agreed to help Awdry. By the time the illustrations were finished, however, Edmund Ward had already hired C. Reginald Dalby as illustrator, who re-drew the pictures for publication.[1]
  • In this book, the Fat Director is renamed the Fat Controller, which he would be known as from this book onwards.
  • The book was released digitally for Apple products on 11th May 2012.
  • A 70th anniversary print was released on 16th April 2015.
  • James and the Top-Hat is based on an event that occurred at Ghent, Belgium that was witnessed by the Rev. W. Awdry.
  • The events of this book take place in 1925.
  • In page 48 of the Onion book called "Our Dumb Century," one of the front-page blurbs reads, "Do you have yesterday's newspaper, an extra bootlace, and some grass?", a possible reference to James' bootlace incident.
  • James and the Bootlace is based off a snippet in The Railway Gazette.
  • The Korean title of this book shares the same name on Jung Ang Educational Foundation Inc. and Adongmoonhak.


  • In the fifth illustration of James and the Top-Hat, Thomas' number is missing, his siderods are blue, the red lining on his splasher is missing and the smaller window on the side of his cab is missing, similar to some of Reginald Payne's illustrations of Thomas.
  • In the sixth illustration of James and the Top-Hat, James is missing his rear buffers.
  • Throughout James and the Bootlace the number of coaches changes.
  • In the third illustration of Troublesome Trucks, a sad van is at the front of James' train. For the remainder of the story, its face disappears. In the same illustration, the little blue tank engine is missing his front wheel arches.
  • Between the fifth and sixth illustrations of Troublesome Trucks, the grass on the sides of Gordon's Hill becomes lighter.
  • In The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it was mentioned that in Troublesome Trucks James took his trucks to Killdane, but the illustration shows Wellsworth instead.
  • In the fourth illustration of James and the Express, James does not have any cab windows. However, pencil outlines for them can be seen.
  • In the sixth illustration of James and the Express, Gordon's front coupler is missing.
  • In the final illustration, Gordon is missing his steam-pipes and the curve at the bottom of his valance.
  • In illustrations three through seven of James and the Top-Hat, illustration three of James and the Bootlace, and illustration eight of Troublesome Trucks, James, Edward and Thomas do not have head codes/lamps on them for their passenger trains.
  • In the third, fourth, and sixth illustrations of James and the Top-Hat and in the eighth illustration of Troublesome Trucks, James appears to be smaller than Edward.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 亮闪闪的詹姆士
Japanese 赤い機関車ジェームズ (1973-2004)
赤い機関車ジェームス (2005)
Korean 빨간 기관차, 제임스
Swiss-German James mit dem roten Kleid
Welsh James Yr Injian Coch


Name Released Discontinued Highlights Image
Plate Unknown Unknown