|This article is about the tank engine. You may be looking for the Engine Friends episode.|
Thomas is a tank engine who works on the North Western Railway. He originally worked as the station pilot at the Big Station, but longed to leave his yard to go out and see the world. After helping to rescue James from a nasty accident, Thomas was rewarded with two new coaches, Annie and Clarabel, and was given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line, where he continues to work to this day.
The Railway Series
Details of Thomas' arrival on the North Western Railway in 1915 are more or less undocumented and it is unknown how exactly he showed up. The most popular theory put forward, however, is that he was sent to Sodor in a wartime mix-up. His driver and fireman got along well with the local people and married Sudrian girls and by 1920 neither one wanted to leave the Island or their beloved engine.
On inquiry, Sir Topham Hatt found out that the LB&SCR had written off Thomas as being "lost on war service." Rather than face complications resulting from a change in their books, the LB&SCR quietly sold Thomas to the North Western Railway for a "nominal sum."
Thomas originally worked as the station pilot at Vicarstown, shunting trains for the bigger engines on the main line to take out. He enjoyed teasing the other engines, Gordon most of all and would quietly sneak up on him and whistle loudly as he dozed on a siding. However, one morning, Gordon managed to get back at Thomas by pulling out of the station before he could be uncoupled from his coaches, dragging him down the line at tremendous speeds. Thomas vowed to never tease Gordon again, but made him change. Perhaps as a result of his brief excursion beyond his boundaries, Thomas longed to see more of the world and become a part of it and became jealous of the bigger engines for having the opportunity to pull trains.
When Henry fell ill one morning, Thomas was allowed to take his morning passenger train when there were no other engines available, much to his delight. However, for reasons unknown, Thomas left the station before he could be coupled to his train, leaving behind the coaches, the passengers and their luggage. Thomas was not aware of his mistake, until he was stopped by a signalman who asked where his train was. Ashamed and humiliated, Thomas returned to the station, this time waiting to be coupled to his coaches, but the incident had made him a laughing stock among the bigger engines.
Thomas continued to grumble to the other engines, though they took no notice of him. However, Edward felt sorry for him and allowed him to take his goods train to Wellsworth while he handled his shunting duties in the yard. Although Edward warned him to be careful around the trucks, Thomas took no notice and bumped the trucks as he started. When they reached Gordon's Hill, the trucks pushed him down the line, causing him to lose control. Thomas raced through Maron station and came to a stop, where he was confronted by the Fat Controller. Sometime after this, Thomas was relocated to Wellsworth to learn more about handling trucks.
Thomas was present in the yard when James ran out of control with his trucks and derailed in a field outside the station. Thomas fetched the Breakdown Train and rushed to James' aid and he helped to clean up the broken trucks and bring James back to the shed when he was re-railed. As a reward for his actions, Thomas was given two new coaches, Annie and Clarabel and was given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line, much to his delight.
Thomas loved his branch line dearly and had many adventures during his first days on the line. He once left his guard behind by accident and on another occasion he accidentally swallowed a fish in his tank when he took on water from the lake, causing him tremendous pain. During the autumn season, Thomas met Terence and teased him for his caterpillar tracks, though he later came to regret this after he became stuck in the snow and had to be pulled out by him. Thomas later met Bertie and was challenged to a race to Ffarquhar. Although he was behind for most of the race, Thomas managed to overtake Bertie and won.
After a compliment by his driver went to his smokebox, Thomas became conceited, believing that he no longer needed his driver to control him. The next morning, Thomas found himself moving on his own after a careless cleaner had meddled with his controls, but he was unable to stop and crashed into the Ffarquhar stationmaster's house. Thomas was sent to the Works to be mended and received some changes to his design, including a new footplate that was now level from smokebox to bunker. When Thomas returned to the branch line, he began looking after the passenger trains with Daisy.
In 1990, Thomas was invited by the National Railway Museum to represent the North Western Railway in the Great Railway Show, an event showcasing many famous engines across the UK. Thomas was excited, but the journey to York was shaky; he damaged his front bufferbeam when he hit a crossing gate and the lorry he was travelling on was booked for parking illegally. Thomas was repaired when he arrived at the Museum and befriended Green Arrow while he was being mended, though he continued to have bad luck when he ran into a bag thrown onto the line and frightened a small child. Fortunately, Thomas managed to make up for his bad luck when, as he was double-heading a railtour with Green Arrow, he noticed the line up ahead was damaged and stopped the train. As a reward for his actions, Thomas was made an honorary member of the National Railway Museum and received a commemorative plaque. Afterwards, Thomas left York and returned to Sodor.
Thomas & Friends
Before coming to Sodor, Thomas lived at Brighton, where he worked alongside several other engines. He was brought to the North Western Railway when the Fat Controller was in need of a new tank engine to shunt trains at Knapford and was originally painted teal-green before receiving his blue livery.
Thomas was cheeky at first and enjoyed teasing Gordon by waking him up while he was resting at Knapford. Gordon managed to get back at Thomas by leaving the station too quickly before he could be uncoupled and though Thomas learned his lesson about teasing Gordon, he wanted to see more of the world and go beyond the yard at Knapford station. He was given the chance to pull his first passenger train when Henry became ill, but left the station too early when he mistook the guard's whistle for Edward's train for his own, leaving behind his coaches and passengers. Thomas was stopped by a signalman and he went back to the station to fetch his train.
Thomas was teased relentlessly about this mistake by the other engines, especially Gordon and James, though Edward felt sorry for him and offered to let Thomas take his goods train while he took care of his shunting duties in the yard. Thomas could hardly contain his excitement and was too excited to listen to Edward's warning about the trucks, believing that he could handle them easily. However, as he reached the top of Gordon's Hill, the trucks began pushing Thomas down the line, causing him to run out of control and nearly crashed until he stopped in a siding at Maron. As punishment for not doing his work in the yard, the Fat Controller made Thomas shunt in the yard only, giving Edward the same punishment as him.
Upon noticing that Henry had not come out of the sheds to pull his train during a rainy day, Thomas raced back to Tidmouth Sheds and managed to convince a paranoid Henry that the rain would not hurt him, finally helping him get over his fear of the rain. Thomas continued to work in the yard and over time, he became more skilled at shunting. While taking a break in the yard one day, Thomas saw James being pushed by his trucks unable to stop due to his burning brake blocks. Thomas bravely chased after James and tried to stop him, but unfortunately James derailed and landed in a field. Thomas rushed back to Knapford and retrieved Jerome and Judy, who helped him re-rail James. As a reward for his heroic actions, Thomas was rewarded with his own branch line and two coaches of his own, Annie and Clarabel. From that point on, Thomas began proudly working on his branch line.
Stories From Sodor
Thomas is a rather cheeky, but good hearted and kind engine and generally behaves well, except when he is getting into mishap from getting over-eager. He loves teasing the others, especially the bigger engines, such as Gordon and on occasion, brags about his superiority, but is always brought down to earth in due course by anyone who gives him the moral to learn, especially the Fat Controller, and his two coaches, Annie and Clarabel. If Thomas has one major character flaw, it is that he is forgetful and slightly impatient. However, he is also optimistic and idealistic.
Although their friendship has been turbulent at times, Percy is generally portrayed as Thomas' best friend, especially in the television series.
Thomas is based on the Billinton E2-Class 0-6-0T locomotives built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway between 1913 and 1916. He is apparently one of the last batch built as only these engines featured his distinctive extended side-tanks, projecting forward over the leading wheels and little down sweeps at each end of the footplate. The E2s were introduced in 1915 to replace earlier members of the E1 class, which had been scrapped. The last five in the ten strong class had extended side tanks to give a greater water capacity, but all engines had two inside cylinders and driving wheels 4'6" in diameter.
After many years of service, all of the Billinton E2s, both original and modified, spent their last working years at Southampton Docks, alongside the SR USA Tanks (Rosie's class), and they were all scrapped by 1963, the very last pair being numbers 31204 and 31209, the latter being amongst the last batch. Their replacements were BR Class 07 diesel shunters (Salty's class). There is, however, a campaign with the aim to build a new E2, and number it 110. Two E2s of the first batch were tested on passenger trips, as well as given the LB&SCR brown passenger livery, this was a failed experiment, the reason for it being that the first batch didn't carry enough coal and water. So the class was used only for shunting.
Thomas has a slight modification of having wheel splashers over his front wheels whereas the original E2s did not. Unlike Thomas, the E2s had footplates with dips at the ends or ones that were straight. Thomas only had a dip at one end of his footplate, which it was repaired after his accident with the Stationmasters house, making it straight.
Thomas is painted in the North Western Railway's standard blue livery with red-and-yellow lining and the number "1" painted on his tank sides in yellow with a red border. In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.