- “Once upon a time there was a little engine called Edward.”
- ―The first line in the Railway Series
The Three Railway Engines is the first book of the Railway Series.
Foreword (1998 Edition)
When The Three Railway Engines was first published in May 1945, a foreword to it was probably not considered. Within six months, however, it became clear that the book wasn't going to be the slight affair that had perhaps been expected. Twenty-five books were to follow, all with forewords, in a sequence that became known as The Railway Series; and yet, despite numerous reprintings, the little book that started the wheels turning remained without a preface.
Now, for this new edition, more than fifty years later, a foreward is thought appropriate. I feel very privileged, not only to have been asked to write it, but to have the chance to dedicate the stories to the memory of my father, their creator.
The Author's Son
The big engines are teasing Edward that he will not be allowed out because he is too weak, but when the driver sees him upset he offers to take him out. Edward goes to get some coaches, and, after a few moments of panic waiting for the guard, they start off and Edward has an enjoyable day.
Gordon is bragging about pulling the express, but when Edward is shunting Gordon comes past with a long goods train. Gordon deliberately stalls at a hill and Edward comes as a "banker." At the top of the hill, Gordon races ahead and Edward gets puffed out, but is pleased at the prospect of a new coat of paint.
One rainy day, Henry stops in a tunnel and refuses to move. His crew, the passengers, another engine and even the Fat Director try to get him to move, but to no avail. Eventually, they have him bricked up, and they bore a new tunnel.
Gordon is pulling the Express when he bursts his safety valve outside Henry's Tunnel. Edward tries to pull the train, but cannot. The Fat Director lets Henry out of the tunnel so that he and Edward can pull the train. They later help Gordon home, and Henry is rewarded with a new blue coat.
Edward's Day Out
- The Little Boys
- Gordon (not named)
- Henry (not named)
- The Red Engine (not named)
- 98462 and 87546 (not named)
Edward and Gordon
The Sad Story of Henry
Edward, Gordon and Henry
- Awdry never planned to publish the book, but he changed his mind after his wife Margaret told him it was worth publishing.
- The first three stories were first told and written in 1942, but as the UK was in the midst of World War II and paper was scarce and rationed, they could not be published until 1945.
- The Rev. W. Awdry did not intend for the first three stories to be based on the same railway, but his publishers pressured him to write a fourth story to increase the length of the book, suggesting that Edward, Gordon and Henry be brought together for an ending.
- In the Middleton illustration, the Red Engine is in-between Gordon and 87546. In the Dalby illustration, the Red Engine switched positions with 87546. Dalby also drew two different versions of the Red Engine.
- The only book to feature 98462 and 87546, who were never seen or heard of in later books.
- This book was first illustrated by William Middleton, but was later re-illustrated by C. Reginald Dalby from the eighth edition onwards in October 1949.
- The Japanese version include a foreword message by Wilbert Awdry, written for Japanese readers in 1973.
- The 1998 Egmont edition included a foreword message by Christopher Awdry.
- An illustration from The Sad Story of Henry was released as a Royal Mail stamp in 2011 to mark the Reverend W. Awdry's centenary.
- The book was released digitally for Apple products on 11 May 2012.
- A 70th Anniversary print was released on 16 April 2015.
- A personalised version of the book was released by Signature Publishing.
- The fourth illustration of Edward's Day Out features a coach without a front coupling. Awdry explained that one of the big engines was pulling the coaches so roughly that the coupling fell off. When Edward arrived to collect the coaches, they had not fitted a new coupling and hook. This took some time, so the guard went off home to his "elevenses." This also explains why Edward was waiting for his guard.
- Edward and Gordon is based on the common instances of trains stalling on the Lickey Incline near the Awdry family's home in King's Norton.
- The Sad Story of Henry was based on a real event in the nineteenth century where an engine broke down in a tunnel in America and was left where it was.
- The BBC disastrously adapted The Sad Story of Henry for television on 14 June 1953 using 00 gauge models. Some points had not been set so Henry derailed. Since, in accordance with BBC standards, the programme was broadcast live, the viewers (including Railway Series editor Eric Marriott) were surprised to see a large hand pick up the train and place it back on the rails.
- Dalby drew the engine that tried to push Henry out of the tunnel in The Sad Story of Henry as James, but children mailed Awdry letters asking why James was red before he was black in the following book, so Awdry decided to make the Red Engine a different character altogether.
- The Sad Story of Henry takes place in 1922, whilst the other three take place in 1923.
- A painting book based on Dalby's illustrations was published in 1950.
- When first released the book sold 22,500 copies, with two other batches of 17,000, and another of 16,000 following.
- The book's first production run cost Edmund Ward £1,569 (around £64,370 in 2019).
- In the first illustration of Edward's Day Out, Gordon, 98462 and 87546 have yellow stripes instead of red ones.
- In the second and third illustrations of Edward's Day Out, a post appears between 87546 and Gordon.
- In the third illustration of Edward's Day Out, Gordon is missing his tender.
- In the fourth illustration of Edward's Day Out, Edward collects three coaches, but in the next illustration, he has five coaches with him.
- In Edward's Day Out, the shed has six berths, but in the first illustration of Edward and Gordon, the shed has seven berths.
- Throughout the book Henry loses and gains trailing wheels. His correct wheel arrangement is 4-6-2.
- As Henry runs into the tunnel Edward puffs through the other bore. However, when the passengers attempt to pull Henry out, Edward is still puffing along in the direction he first came.
- It is stated that a second bore was dug after Henry was shut up, but in all the illustrations prior there were two bores shown.
- In the final illustration a man paints the top of Henry's tender, from ground level. Others are painting his boiler, but they are standing on his valence.
- In the final illustration Gordon has circular buffers.
- Gordon's steampipes continuously disappear and re-appear.
- Gordon is portrayed as already having LMS running gear, square buffers and a six-wheel Fowler tender.
- In the second illustration of Edward's Day Out, Gordon's boiler is shorter than it should be.
- In the second illustration of Edward, Gordon and Henry, Gordon's buffers are black instead of white.
- In the fourth illustration of Edward, Gordon and Henry, Gordon and Edward's handrails are missing.
In Other Languages
|German||Thomas die Tenderlok und andere Eisenbahngeschichten|
|Korean||세 기관차 이야기|
|Norwegian||De Tre Lokomotivene|
|Welsh||Y Tri Injian Tren|
|60th Anniversary Henry||2005||2005||