Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
This article is about the television series steam engine. You may be looking for the Railway Series steam engine, the magazine character or Sir Topham Hatt's grandson.

“I beat four other engines at the Rainhill Trials!"
"I know, it's no wonder you're such a celebrity Stephen; the Rainhill Trials are legendary!”
―Stephen & Glynn[src]

Stephen - nicknamed "The Rocket" - is an early steam engine who works at Ulfstead Castle, where he takes visitors around the castle grounds and across the rest of Sodor.


Thomas & Friends

Stephen was built in 1829 by Robert Stephenson and competed against four other engines in a series of races called the Rainhill Trials, which he won. He used to work in mines and at harbours, but was withdrawn as newer and faster engines were being built. Eventually, Sir Robert Norramby brought him to Sodor, where he was overhauled at the Sodor Steamworks.

Norramby had Stephen restored so that he could take tourists around the castle grounds; however, Stephen was not aware of this and after being told by Thomas that the Earl had a surprise job for him, became too excited to wait and travelled around Sodor, looking for jobs that he could do. However, Stephen proved to be too weak and slow for most of the jobs and after visiting an abandoned mine, became trapped after having to avoid a runaway train from running into him. While he was in the mine, Stephen managed to uncover King Godred's long lost crown and was given a new funnel after he was rescued. He was later present at the grand opening of Ulfstead Castle.

When James was trying to scare Percy, Stephen accidentally fell into the moat at the castle when he became scared by one of James' tricks. He and Percy both had the last laugh after they successfully frightened James. Later, when Percy was having a day of bad luck, Stephen gave him his lucky horseshoe to help him feel better. Percy, however, dropped the horseshoe before even leaving Stephen. He was later chosen to collect the ingredients for the Earl's afternoon tea. But when Spencer was teasing Stephen for being too slow, Stephen tried to prove Spencer that he can be fast. Unfortunately, Stephen spilled the barrels of jam when he came into the castle too fast. Fortunately, Stephen managed to amend his mistake by having the afternoon tea on a train around Sodor, which proved to be popular.

When the Earl was expecting a shipment from the Mainland, both Stephen and Millie waited for the shipment to arrive, when they saw Marion running away from the dinosaur models that Samson was delivering, which turned out to be the Earl's important shipment.

Once, as he was taking tourists across the island, Stephen noticed that the Sodor Suspension Bridge was falling apart. He got his passengers to safety, then managed to stop Gordon and the express from crossing the bridge, seconds before the bridge collapsed.

After the party that was held at Ulfstead Castle after Glynn's restoration, Stephen became jealous of Glynn because he believed the Earl had a new favourite engine. He later challenged the coffee pot to a race to Knapford Station. The race ended in a tie and Sir Topham Hatt was upset with the delays the two had caused on the Main Line due to their slow race. However, the Earl had agreed to the race with Sir Topham as promotion for the new railway museum he was opening. Both engines then became friends and soon enough star attractions at the museum. Stephen also helped Connor gain confidence in racing and be bang-on time by giving him a pep talk after he refused to race him due to fear of breaking his coupling rods again.

When the Great Railway Show was being held on the Mainland, Stephen was taken to the show along with the other Sudrian engines who would be competing. He took a Brass Band and other visitors around the railway show yard as the show was taking place and led the Best Decorated Engine Parade.

Later on, when Millie had been given extra work, the Earl asked Stephen and Glynn to help out for the day. However, Stephen neglected to do his assigned chore of moving the garden waste. Fed up, Millie tried to pay Stephen back by dumping the waste in front of his shed - Stephen took offence to this and mocked Millie in retaliation, prompting her to race off in a huff. The following day, Stephen became increasingly concerned when he could not find Millie. This led to him coming to the conclusion that she had run away because of his teasing. Determined to set things right, Stephen left the estate to look for Millie, only to run out of water near Crovan's Gate. Shortly afterward, Millie and the Earl found him, and explained that they had only left to collect a new motor for the castle turntable - the Earl had in fact told both Stephen and Glynn about this the previous morning, but the two were busy bantering and did not hear him. Millie and Stephen resolved their misunderstanding, and, once Stephen had taken on more water, returned to the castle together.

Toby later filled in for him when he was at the Steamworks.


Stephen is a jolly old engine with a positive attitude and a good sense of humour. He is a good-hearted and quick-witted engine and will not take any nonsense from engines like Spencer or Diesel. Some of the smaller engines look up to him for advice and he is always willing to get the job done.

Technical Details


Stephen is based on Stephenson's Rocket. Though his design is based on a combination of the Rocket as originally built (such as angled cylinders) and its post-Rainhill modifications (such as a smokebox), Stephen has identified himself as the original Rocket, describing the Rainhill trials and his subsequent working years.

The real Rocket is preserved at the Science Museum in London, although it is currently on display at the National Railway Museum at York. Several replicas also exist, one of which is part of the National Collection.


Stephen is painted golden yellow and black. He carries gold nameplates reading "Rocket" on each side of his boiler and his domes, whistle, exhaust pipes and boiler bands are painted bronze. During his early years and after his overhaul, Stephen had a plain black funnel, but after he was rescued from the mine, his funnel was painted white with a gold finial.

Prior to being overhauled, Stephen had unpainted woodwork with black wheels. Due to being abandoned for so long, he was covered in patches of rust, and his wood was rotting.


Thomas & Friends


Music Videos



Magazine Stories

Official Description

From Official Website[1]

Stephen: Stephen was one of the earliest engines ever designed, and he can remember when there were still horses pulling wagons and coaches on the railways. In his day, he was one of the fastest engines and won races. However, these days, newer engines are faster and stronger than Stephen, but he is still Really Useful, offering tours to Ulfstead Castle visitors. Stephen has a lot of experience, which he can draw on to continue to find new ways of being Really Useful. Stephen is a funny character who is very popular.

Fun Fact: Stephen’s name derives from the Stephenson’s Rocket; this is why Stephen’s nickname is 'THE ROCKET'.

Audio Files


First used Last used Sound Effect
King of the Railway Active

In the mobile app, Read and Play!, Stephen is incorrectly portrayed with Stepney's whistle from the twelfth series.

First used Last used Sound Effect
Read and Play! Read and Play!


  • In his Take-n-Play, Adventures and pre-2018 Wooden Railway merchandise toys, his tender is unremovable.
  • Most merchandise lines show Stephen carrying the Ulfstead Castle crest on his tender, even though he only wore the crest during the castle's grand reopening. Furthermore, some merchandise lines also depict him with his old black funnel due to it being molded onto the smokebox.
  • Bob Golding gives Stephen a Northern English accent, reflecting his basis' origins.
  • In the Polish narration, Stephen's name is Sławek, which is also Skarloey's name in the same narration.
  • Stephen's name is likely derived from the last name of his builder, Robert Stephenson.
  • As shown by some prototypes for merchandise, Stephen was originally going to have an enclosed cab.
  • Stephen has gone through a few changes since his introduction:
    • When he was restored, he gained a headlamp.
    • In the nineteenth series, he gained a tail lamp.
  • In a flashback sequence in King of the Railway, Stephen uses an unfinished version of his model. Differences between this version and the final CGI model include:
    • His nameplates are missing.
    • His chimney cap is much more basic.
    • His tender - much like Sans Pareil's - is made from a heavily-modified 7-plank wagon; unlike the former's, however, the front of Stephen's has been removed, allowing the fireman to shovel coal.
  • His drive wheels have more spokes than that of the real Rocket's, the drive wheels of which only have 12 spokes each.
  • He is Sam Wilkinson's favourite character.


“Did you ever see knights in shining armour?"
"No! I may be old, but I'm not
that old. And before you ask, I never saw dinosaurs either.”
―Percy and Stephen discussing the latter's age, "King of the Railway"
“The visitors will wait a long time for their afternoon tea if Stephen is doing the job."
"I'll have you know they use to call me the Rocket, because I was so speedy!"
"Pah! Compared to a horse and cart maybe!”
―Spencer insulting Stephen, "The Afternoon Tea Express", seventeenth series
“Looks like someone is back to her old self."
"Yes, Marion certainly isn't scared of dinosaurs anymore. In fact you could say she really "Digs" them!”
―Millie and Stephen talking about Marion, "Marion and the Dinosaurs", eighteenth series