James the Red Engine

James the Red Engine

"James the Red Engine" is a fictional anthropomorphic tender locomotive from "The Railway Series" of children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry, and the spin-off TV series "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends". James is a mixed-traffic engine, which means he can pull coaches and trucks. He has a 2-6-0 ("Mogul") wheel arrangement and is engine number 5 on the North Western Railway, the Fat Controller's railway on the Island of Sodor.

He first appeared in the Railway Series in 1946, in the book "Thomas the Tank Engine". Two books in the series, no. 3 "James the Red Engine" and no. 28 "James and the Diesel Engines" are dedicated to James.

In the stories, James crashed on his first day into a field. It was blamed on the wooden brake blocks he was given. James has a reputation for being naughty. Some of the incidents include breaking a coach brake pipe and needing a passenger's bootlace to fix it, crashing into tar wagons, and spinning on the turntable. Despite his behaviour, James is an engine proud of his red paint and is considered to be a really useful engine. He is similar in size to Edward and is one of the few engines allowed to pull the Express when Gordon is away.

He is very proud of his red paint and shining brass dome, and so likes to stay clean. He hates pulling trucks, and believes that he should only be used to pull coaches. He thinks himself superior to the other engines, and can be shallow, boastful and arrogant – particularly to Edward, and those engines who appear old-fashioned, weak, slow or dirty. However, on a number of occasions he has found himself forced to accept help from those he has insulted, and is ultimately apologetic.

James is one of the few characters to have their own song ("James The Really Splendid Engine") in the TV series, the chorus of which is based on his theme music used in the early seasons.

In the Railway Series, James was for a long time one of the last engines to retain a prejudice against diesels. However, he was forced to admit in the book "James and the Diesel Engines" that there was nothing wrong with diesels as a whole, and this appears to be one of the few lessons that has stuck.

Behind the Scenes

James first appeared in the Railway Series in 1946, in the book "Thomas the Tank Engine". He was painted black at this point. At the request of the publishers, Awdry dedicated the next book to the character. It was in this book that James received his red paint and his personality.

In the book , it is claimed that James is based on a rebuild of a Class 27 locomotive of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, designed by George Hughes. However, as with most of the early Railway Series characters, this is a case of retroactive continuity.

[http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/james.htm Martin Clutterbuck] has pointed out that the character also strongly resembles an Austrian Goods engine of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, and Awdry himself used an engine of this class to represent James on his model railway. As with Edward, it is possible that he rejected this prototype for the character's official "biography" on the grounds that an English locomotive would be geographically more likely to end up on Sodor.

James As a model

According to the Rev W Awdry himself, James is a "Class 28" Hughes rebuild of the Lancashire and Yorkshire's Class 27 designed by Aspinall. Hughes added a Belpaire firebox and extended the footplate and sandbox. The engine below, the first of the series from the Horwich works (5th March, 1912), was fitted with a Schmidt superheater. The changes for James are quite obviously the new front pony truck added "experimentally", suggested by the real loco's large front overhang, and thus converting an 0-6-0 into a 2-6-0, besides the removal of the front sandboxes. James 2-6-0 Professionally made (a G&SWR Mixed traffic loco designed by Drummond.) It was painted red with yellow lining as in the books. a beautiful model, but there was one way the motor, though of a well-known and reputedly reliable make, was so unreliable, that the engine could never be put into regular service (Note W.A. 1989 Loco was sent 1983/84 to Stewart Reidpath for fresh chassis and Motor and returned completely transformed). James II, which the Reverend converted from the Triang 3F just as Hornby would do for its production James.

James in "Thomas and the Magic Railroad"

Susan Roman voiced James in the film, "Thomas and the Magic Railroad"inote|imdb.com|imdb. He was briefly threatened by the evil Diesel 10 before being teleported out by Mr Conductor Junior (Michael E. Rodgers). At the beginning the fly annoying him was a reference to "Buzz, Buzz". [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205461/fullcredits 'Full Cast and Crew for Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000)' "imdb.com"] Retrieved May 22 2005]

James in the Guinness Book of Records

A large scale working replica of James (along with Thomas, Percy, Harold and Jack) was created by BBC Visual Effects (UK) for a 2003 live stage show tour. This battery powered locomotive is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest model railway engine ever built, at 2.64 x 1.5 x 6.52 metres. [cite book |editor= Claire Folkard (ed.) |title=Guinness World Records 2004 |publisher=Guinness World Records Limited |isbn=085112-180-2 |pages=p. 107]

"Real Life" James

The Mid Hants Railway repainted one of its engines – a Southern Railway N class – into the livery of James. The engine retained this colour scheme for many years, and participated in the Railway Series golden jubilee celebrations at the National Railway Museum. This engine was the only replica Thomas character to be certified to run on the main line.On the East Lancashire Railway, unrestored LMS Ivatt Class 2 Mogul No. 46428 has been painted as James the Red Engine.

It created a certain amount of controversy among railway enthusiasts, who felt that it was inappropriate to paint a historic main line locomotive in such a garish livery. Nonetheless, the locomotive was popular with the railway's younger visitors.


*In the TV Series, James makes a large number of cameos before his actual debut story. This leads to a continuity error in "James and the Coaches".
*In the Railway Series, James was painted black before his accident and was given his red coat to cheer him up; he is red throughout the TV Series.
*In the story 'The Sad Story of Henry', James (or an engine very much like him) is seen trying to push Henry out of the tunnel.
*In the Japanese version of Seasons 1-8, James was voiced by Katsuji Mori. James's new voice actor in Season 9 is Masashi Ebara (who voiced Mr. Conductor in the Japanese version of Thomas and the Magic Railroad).


* [http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/james.htm The Real Lives of Thomas page on James]

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