This article is about the 1953 adaptation. You may be looking for the 1984 adaptation or the magazine story.

The Sad Story of Henry was a BBC television pilot which was broadcasted on 14 June 1953. It was based on The Railway Series story of the same name.




In 1953, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) approached then Railway Series editor Eric Marriott, who worked for Edmund Ward with the intention of getting the rights to adapt two stories from The Three Railway Engines for television. These episodes were scheduled to be broadcast during BBC Children's Hour on 14th and 28th June of that year, respectively.

OO scale model trains by Hornby were used to create the engines and rolling stock. P.R. Wickham designed the set to resemble C. Reginald Dalby's illustrations. The pilot was narrated by Julia Lang.

The pilot was transmitted live from Lime Grove Studios. It has been reported that, during the broadcast, an engine (Most likely Henry) derailed due to a set of points not being set correctly. On-screen, a crew member's hand could be seen putting the aforementioned locomotive back onto the rails.

Wilbert Awdry, who watched the broadcast, complained about the "jerky" model railway operation, the on-screen derailment (which he described as an "elementary mistake"), as well as the "freely adapted" script required to fill in the ten-minute time slot. These complaints, combined with negative media attention, resulted in the cancellation of the planned subsequent episodes.


It is believed that this pilot no longer exists, as being a live broadcast, it was likely never recorded. No stills are known to exist either.


  • This is the first example of an attempt to adapt the Railway Series books to television, second being a series planned by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1970s.




  1. 1.0 1.1 A newspaper section printed after the incident.


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