Henry the Green Engine

Promotional picture of Henry in full CGi
Number 3
Class LMS Stanier "Black 5" 4-6-0 with Fowler tender, originally LNER Stanier Class B10 4-6-0 (GNR Ivatt Class C1/LNER Gresely Class A1/A3 hybird 4-6-0)
Livery LNER green with red lining (1919), NWR blue with red lining (rather than late 1925), NWR green with red lining (since 1922)
Line Tidmouth-Barrow-in-Furness mainline
Built 1919 (he was experimental)



Designers Sir Topham Hatt I and William Stainer Date of birth March 8, 1919 (age 98)
First Appearance Edward's Day Out
Voice Actors Keith Wickham (UK)
Kerry Shale (USA)
Hugh Laurie (All-New Shining Time Station series only)

Henry is a green mixed-traffic engine. He is one of the main protagonists in the both the Railway Series and the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends television series.

Henry's Rebuild

Behind the scenes, Rev. W. Awdry had a great deal of trouble with the illustrators' depiction of Henry. He was unhappy with the way C. Reginald Dalby had portrayed the character, as he looked almost identical to Gordon, especially when he was painted blue at the end of Book 1 and in Books 2-4. In one illustration in Tank Engine Thomas Again, he looks identical to Gordon. To make things worse, the character was portrayed inconsistently, often having several different appearances within the space of a single story: in most of Dalby's illustrations Henry was portrayed as a 4-6-0, but occasionally he becomes a 4–6–2 instead.

Awdry's original idea had been to write Henry out of the series, hence the character's illness. But by the sixth book, Henry the Green Engine, he had decided against such a drastic measure. He instead decided to have the character involved in a serious accident, allowing him to be rebuilt into a Class 5MT which, being a real locomotive, would effectively force Dalby to be consistent.

Accounts differ as to when the accident actually took place. In The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways the Rev. Awdry states that it occurred in 1935 (when Stanier 5MTs were still being built). However, Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, by Christopher Awdry, states that it took place in 1951, the year the book was published. The latter is not necessarily an oversight on Christopher's part, because the stories suggest it could just as easily be either. Certainly the dates listed in The Island of Sodor are all consistent with one another, and suggest that for the earlier books, the events on the railway happened many years before the books were published. On the other hand, some instances mentioned in these books would indicate that the stories were more likely set around the time of publication.

Technical Controversy

There is a certain amount of debate as to the nature of Henry's rebuild, caused by the book The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways. It was written to provide some historical background to the world of The Railway Series and to correct pictorial inconsistencies that had occurred in the earlier volumes. In this book, the Rev. W. Awdry claims that the pre-rebuild and post-rebuild Henry are actually two completely separate engines. But the stories do not indicate this since he still seems familiar with events that happens before the crash, and the other engines certainly don't know this. Indeed, Gordon in the story following the rebuild, and in the story 'Percy Takes the Plunge', set after the rebuild, Henry recalls the events of 'The Sad Story of Henry', which suggests that his memory survived the rebuild. As both sources may be considered equally canonical, the question of whether there have been two Henrys or one will always have a paradoxical answer and will likely remain unanswered.

The same book featured a certain amount of retcon to explain Henry's old shape in the first place. The explanation devised was that he was an experimental locomotive built according to plans stolen from Sir Nigel Gresley. Owing to a mistake, the wrong plans were taken and the locomotive built was so riddled with faults that the only person who could be persuaded to buy it was the Fat Controller (then the Fat Director), who at the time was desperate for any locomotive he could get. The name of the thief is never revealed. The Fat Controller claims that he wanted an Atlantic (a locomotive with a 4-4-2 wheel arrangement). This latter point is worth noting, as William Middleton, the very first Railway Series artist, portrayed Henry as this type of engine, as did Awdry's initial sketches.

The Island of Sodor also features a biography of the Fat Controller, which mentions that he was apprenticed with Stanier at Swindon Works. It is possible that this is another piece of retcon to explain how he was able to have Henry rebuilt so easily – something that even Rev. W. Awdry admitted was "a mystery".

In the book Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, it is said that Henry looks very much like a Stanier 5MT, which suggests that he is not totally identical to one of these engines. It is not clear why Christopher Awdry should have felt the need to contradict his father, who was, of course, the original author. It may be simply a result of copy-editing errors and publication deadlines - in the same book, the character Mavis is correctly described as a Drewry Class 04, yet is inaccurately said to be an 0-4-0.

Portrayal in TV Series

In the television series, some degree of technical consistency was achieved. Unlike his Railway Series counterpart, Henry was never portrayed as a 4-6-2; always a 4-6-0. But there were major differences between the TV version and the Book versions of Henry, in his old, and new incarnation. His old shape appears to have been used as his new shape as well, as Henry's old shape appears to be identical to his newer one. The only difference appears to be the presence of a sand hatch, and different (square shaped) Belpaire firebox. This could have been done for ease of the changeover to his "Black Five"-esque appearance. When the new models were made in 2000, they gave Henry a cutoff splasher approximately where his old shape's tapered boiler and old cutoff splasher was. Also, if looked at closely, when Henry is wrecked, his sand hatch from his new shape is already fitted! In another continuity error, during a head-on shot after Henry has returned from his Crewe rebuild, his old shape (without external steam pipes) is used. Henry 1 is made out of a Scotsman body with the firebox cut down.

Henry was never portrayed in the TV series as being blue, as he was in some early Railway Series stories; this was likely done so that young viewers would not confuse him with Gordon (as young readers had once done), as well as to save production costs.

Old Shape

  1. Henry in the series has a curve in the running boards similar to an LNER Class A1/A3.
  2. In the television series, he has his firebox flush with the running boards.
  3. His dome is mounted like a Black Five's, close to the cab.
  4. He has a cutoff third splasher, that is flush with the firebox.
  5. The front of his frames (below his smokebox door) are angled sharply, like a Black Five, instead of being rounded as in The Railway Series.
  6. No external steam pipes are evident at his smokebox.
  7. Henry has an A3-style boiler and Stanier cab windows.
  8. Henry has a LNER B12-style tender in the Railway Series.

New Shape

  1. In The Railway Series Henry lacked splashers. From Seasons one to two, the producers followed this rule of thumb. But in Seasons three through five, he gained a set of 3 full splashers. In Season six, Henry regained a cutoff splasher similar to his old shape.
  2. His original cab was identical to his old shape, further demonstrating how old shape and new shape Henry were possibly the same model, and that Henry's old shape was intentionally made easy to convert to his newer one. His current cab has round windows, partially obscured by his firebox.
  3. Henry has a Fowler tender in the Railway Series.

Henry as a Model

C. Reginald Dalby, Sodor’s first CME, originally drew Henry for the first book "Three Railway Engines" as an engine similar to Gordon. In this incarnation he was a rather sickly engine until "Henry the Green Engine" (1951), when he was found to run well on Welsh coal (in real life, high-calorific anthracite which supplied the GWR). Unfortunately in that book, he was involved in a serious accident and sent to Crewe. The staff at Crewe, the LMS loco engineering headquarters, "rebuilt" him as that railway’s most prolific loco, the 4-6-0 5MT "Black Five." The eagle-eyed will spot that Henry's top-feed (the nub in front of the dome) is somewhat forward along the boiler than most 5MTs, corresponding to 1940s modifications by HG Ivatt.

First appearing in 1934, "Black Fives" were Sir William Stanier’s most rugged and versatile design. They were similar to his "Jubilee" 5P express passenger loco, but with slightly smaller driving wheels to give it ability to haul freight as well as passengers. They show the hallmarks of Stanier’s distinctive standard LMS style, a practice he brought with him from his previous employers, the GWR of Churchward and Collett, with the purpose of using interchangeable parts on very different locos. Stanier’s ideas led the way for British Railways standard designs of the 1950s.

The model Henry made by the Rev W Awdry is said to have had as many problems as his fictional counterpart, according to the Reverend himself in this text from his Model Railway Scrapbook:

"A Graham Farish (1950 Henry) adapted. I had a lot of trouble with this loco at first. Bought second hand, it reached me in a deplorable condition. But, when all the dirt and fluff had been removed from the wheels, gears and motor, it proved quite a useful engine. The main disadvantage was that one had to start it with full regulator away, then with throttle down immediately afterwards. This made smooth starting impossible, and shunting difficult."

It is said that this model "did not make it into preservation"

From The Thomas the Tank Engine Man. Used with the approval of Brian Sibley

Hornby, meanwhile use a tool for Henry that was first used for their Black 5 in 1973. It was converted to make Henry after the company upgraded its Black 5 model with a new super-detailed tool.

In the Island of Sodor book, it is revealed that Henry was a mix of GNR A1 Pacific and GNR C1 Atlantic, with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and firebox cut down. Notice that the engine when fitted with a taper boiler looks remarkably A1 straight away — the only features different, are those aesthetic (and thus, easily changed parts of the design): the running plate and cab. His curved and smooth running plate is dropped at the back and raised at the front. He has a curved flowing and smooth round dropped front on his running plate, like Gordon MK II, and rear 'S' curve in the running boards similar to an LNER Class A1/A3. His large lower-type Ivatt-style cab has one squared-off window on each side. He has his firebox flush with the running boards. His Grelesy cylinders and Walschaerts valve gear resemble LNER Class B17, but with two cylinders instead of three, and without inside motion. He has a cutoff third splasher, that is flush with the firebox. His tender is LNER B12 with Bulleid-style top. No external steam pipes are evident at his smokebox.

Racism Allegation

Henry was the central character of what might be the most controversial story in the history of the Railway Series. In the story 'Henry's Sneeze', the character blasts some troublemaking schoolboys with soot. The story was attacked in 1972 due to the fact that it described the boys in question to have been rendered "as black as n***ers."

So controversial was the issue that it was actually reported in the national press. Awdry himself claimed that it was a case of oversensitivity on the part of the race relations board – a complaint that was misinterpreted by some members of the public as meaning that he was a racist. To solve the problem, he changed the offending sentence to "as black as soot", which has been used in every subsequent edition of the book.

The 'Henry's Forest' Controversy

Henry was the focus of Rev. W. Awdry's irritation once again in the 1990s, when the third season of the television series 'Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends' was released. This series featured a number of original episodes that had not been adapted from The Railway Series stories, some of which annoyed Awdry with their lack of realism. The story that particularly angered him was called 'Henry's Forest'.

This episode begins by explaining that Henry's favourite place on Sodor is a forest through which the line runs. He likes to stop here and admire the scenery. A storm damages the forest, making Henry sad. The episode ends happily, with new trees being planted to replace the ones lost.

Awdry's complaints were directed at two aspects of the episode in particular. One was that it was unrealistic to have a railway running through a forest. Britt Allcroft, the series producer, countered by claiming that she had seen a number of lines that do just that.

The other aspect was that Henry stops to admire the view without alerting the signalman, which was in direct contravention of British Railways' Rule 55. This, Awdry argued, would never be allowed to happen in real life, and would be highly unsafe.

In the Season 5 story 'James & the Trouble with Trees' some trees are removed because 'The Fat Controller says they're too close to the line.' This is evident in Season 8 story 'Henry and the Wishing Tree', in which the trees are further back. It seems likely that these changes were a response to Awdry's complaints.

Henry in the Television Series

Henry was introduced in the first series of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. He has appeared in every season and is one of the eight engines in The Steam Team.

In Railroad Station Series, Henry was voiced by Michael Donovan. He had a curve in the running boards similar to an LNER Class A1/A3, a cutoff third splasher, that was flush with the firebox. His dome is mounted like a Black Five's, close to the cab, the front of his frames below his smokebox door were angled sharply, like a Black Five, and his cab had round windows, obscured by his firebox.

Henry in Thomas and the Magic Railroad

Henry is voiced by Kevin Frank in the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad. In the film, he is the only steam engine to have an American accent, and he appears to still suffer from boiler trouble. The major difference between this incarnation and the pre-rebuild version of the television series is that his sickness is cured by "Island of Sodor coal" rather than Welsh.


  • Rev. W. Awdry's own model of Henry was as troublesome as his fictional counterpart used to be, never really working properly. Eventually the model was scrapped without being replaced.
  • In the books, Henry's tender is unusually small for a Stanier 5MT. In the book Sodor: Reading Between The Lines, it is explained that this is because it is a smaller tender of a type designed by Henry Fowler, which the Fat Controller prefers. In the television series, he kept the tender from his old shape after his rebuild. In some cases from the illustrations by Peter Edwards and Clive Spong, he is just as close to an LMS Jubilee Class.
  • Although he is always known as "the Green Engine", from the end of The Three Railway Engines to the beginning of Troublesome Engines, he was painted blue. In the story 'Henry Sees Red', he temporarily ran in an orange-red undercoat. In the television series, he is always painted green. This was most likely for ease of filming.
  • In one scene from the television version of the story "Peter Sam & the Refreshment Lady", Henry is seen wearing one of Gordon's faces.
  • In the 1997 annual, Henry's driver's name is revealed to be Ted.
  • After Henry's rebuild. In the older episodes Henry no longer needs special coal but in more recent episodes such as "It's Good to be Gordon" Henry needs his special coal and becomes ill when he has to use normal coal because Gordon took his special coal to set a record. It is odd that Henry would need special coal again in the later episodes especially since the rebuild was done so that he could use normal coal.
  • He has been seen with all characters (except Wilbert, Sixteen, Billy, Hector, Madge, Jack, Alfie, Kelly, Isobella, Ned, Max, Monty, Oliver (pack), Byron, Patrick, Miss Jenny, and Colin who haven't been seen with him so far)


Henry's theme is the Flying Kipper's Season 1 theme

Theme (T,J&H Version)

Henry's T,J&H theme is His Season 1 Theme

Counterparts (Hero Version) (Male Version)

Attention niels epting WARNING: You may add appropriate counterparts. But, do NOT delete any.

Counterparts (Villian Version)

Attention niels epting WARNING: You may add appropriate counterparts. But, do NOT delete any.

  • Spencer (Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends)
  • Bluenose or Nantucket (TUGS)
  • Hanzo (Chuggington) 
  • General Jhark (WarioWare (T,J&H Version)) 
  • Hobart Hume (Shining Time Station)
  • King Dedede (Kirby)
  • Superintendent Chalmers (The Simpsons)
  • Broque Monsiuer (Mario and Luigi series)

Counterparts (Female Version)

  • Madge, Mavis, Elizabeth, or Isobella (Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends)
  • Constance or Rebecca (Theodore Tugboat)
  • Didi (Shining Time Station)
  • Maude Flanders or Edna Krabappel Flanders (The Simpsons)
  • Muriel Goldman (Family Guy)
  • Fauna (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Fluttershy (My Little Pony)
  • Hoppopotamus (Wuzzles)
  • Pepper Clark (Littlest Pet Shop)
  • Minerva Mink (Animaniacs)
  • Wheezie (Dragon Tales)
  • Vanessa Barone (Jackie Chan Adventures)
  • Spring Chicken (Bubble Guppies)
  • Rarity (My Little Pony: The Movie (2017))



See Also