Edward is a mixed-traffic engine.
Edward was built by Sharp Stewart and Company in 1896 and worked on the Furness Railway before coming to Sodor in 1920 to finish the building of the North Western Railway.After his work was completed, Edward was kept in a shed, to the delight of the other engines, who claimed that he was too weak to work. Edward was eventually let out again, and proved that what he lacked in strength he made up for in work ethic. Edward currently runs the Wellsworth-Brendam branch line with BoCo, and occasionally Donald and Douglas. He is sometimes used as a pilot engine for special trains.
From Tony Grigg's notes on "The Island of Sodor":
Number 2 "Edward" Edward is a 4-4-0 tender locomotive of the "larger Seagull" type built by Sharp Stewart in 1896 which once worked on the Furness Railway.
Edward is based at Wellsworth (Edward's junction) for work on the Brendam Branch Line, known as "Edward's Branch Line" which he works with BoCo to the Brendam Bay China Clay quarry and Bill and Ben.
Tom Wright adds:
-Edward is described as a Furness Railway "Larger Seagull", heavily modified to cure shy steaming. Although the 'Larger Seagull' bears little resemblance, I suspect that this was merely a case of Awdry trying to explain away an illustrator's blunder.
Edward is kind-hearted and always keen to help a friend in need. The small engines trust him to lend a listening ear and sympathetic advice. He is a hard worker too, and always does his best to finish a job.
Sadly, the big engines often see Edward as old-fashioned and slow. While it is true he is the oldest engine on the North Western Railway - it must be noted he helped build it - he has proved time and time again that he is more than capable of working as hard as any engine, but he is a more clever and wiser engine, too.
Edward's persona differs slightly. Despite his reputation of being kind and friendly, Edward has sometime seemed to act cheeky. Edward has also acted with a lack of confidence in himself in that he keeps secrets from the other engines and the Fat Controller when once he was leaking steam, and likewise when he was told to pull the post train whilst Percy was being repaired.
Unlike most characters, Edward is not directly based upon any particular class of locomotive. The Reverend W. Awdry had stated that Edward is based on a heavily modified Sharp, Stewart and Co. "Larger Seagull", supplied to the Furness Railway in 1896, but this was a piece of retcon created for "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways".
Sodor "historian" Martin Clutterbuck notes that Edward bears a close resemblance to a LNER D3/4 "Glen" (NBR Reid Class K) 4-4-0 from the London and North Eastern Railway. At any rate, the Reverend W. Awdry used an engine of this class to represent Edward on his model railway.
Crovan's Gate modifications to be seen are making rear splasher flush with cab, new cab windows as opposed to cutaway, new cab lookouts as opposed to the round originals and a low capacity Fowler tender
The inspiration for Edward himself came from the Reverend W. Awdry's watching trains on the Great Western Railway as a child. He said in an interview with Brian Sibley for "The Thomas the Tank Engine Man" that, to him, the noise of the locomotives' exhaust almost sounded like dialogue - for example, the larger engine having trouble climbing the hills would appear to be saying, "I can't do it, I can't do it," and the smaller engine helping them would sound like it were saying, "I will do it! I will do it! I will do it!"
Edward is painted NWR blue with the NWR red and yellow lining, the number "2" painted on his cab sides and the letters "NWR" painted on his tender sides in bright yellow with a red border. He carries two plaques on his cab that reads "NWR No. 2, Rebuilt 1920, Crovans Gate Works". He carries his number in gold figures on his bufferbeams.
Before arriving on Sodor, Edward was painted in the Furness Railway's red livery with a yellow "FR" on his tender sides and black wheels.