James the Splendid Red Engine

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.

Class 28
Image in Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Miscellany by Noel Coates, 1983. From the Author's collection.

However, in real life, this locomotive below had a close configuration to James, the 2-6-0 (mogul) "Austrian Goods" of the Glasgow and South Western Railway (GSWR), designed by Peter Drummond and delivered in 1915. The story goes that the builder North British Locomotive Co had a contract for Austria just prior to WWI. At the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, with Austria becoming a belligerent power, some material for this contract was diverted into this batch of 11 2-6-0s, and the nickname stuck. By all accounts, these engines were a delight to drive and fire. David L Smith in Tales of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, describes in one instance, that after one of Drummond's earlier "Pumper" 0-6-0 engines, "the change of conditions was like a transfer to Heaven after a sojourn in Another Place."

James rendered by Martin Clutterbuck
Images left and below from Tales of the Glasgow and South Western Railway by David L Smith, with many thanks to James Gratton.

Note the inside cylinders (ie no external cylinders or valve gear), a completely flat footplate, and splashers for all three pairs of driving wheels. The only main difference that James has a square Belpaire firebox, while this loco has a round-topped firebox.

No.17825 at Kingsmoor

Reader John Hastings-Thomson adds (for which many thanks): "For a non standard design they survived quite well, the first (17824) being withdrawn in 1935. The last (17829) nearly made it into BR ownership, being withdrawn in March 1947. All the class were originally based at Carlisle so it is not improbable that one might stray on to Sodor! Most of the information ... is from Brian Haresnape's Book Drummond Locomotives, which is still widely available on the second hand market. They were the penultimate class of G&SWR locomotive to survive on the mainline ( the preserved 0-6-0T had been sold into industrial service before the war)."

Here’s a picture of 17830 underway with a train. The class has one more important claim to fame, which is that it was the basis for the model of James on the Rev Wilbert's model railway, as seen below.

GSWR Mogul

James in India

Lookalike James in other countries:

Here's another loco even closer, with the right wheels and a Belpaire firebox. This is a result of correspondent Ernest Leung doing some fascinating research into locomotives that very closely resemble James. Check the originals out on this page, "James in India and Ireland"


From Tony Grigg's notes on "The Island of Sodor":
Number 5 "James"
James is an experimental 2-6-0 Hughes superheated tender engine. James is a mixed traffic locomotive and based at Tidmouth for the main line runs.

James arrived on Sodor in "Thomas the Tank Engine" (1946) and merited his own book "James the Red Engine" soon after in 1948.


The Rev. Awdry's Model of James
Rev. Awdry's first model of James

TOP: James I from the 1950s is described in the Rev W Awdry's model railway scrapbook as follows:

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).

BOTTOM: James II, which the Reverend converted from the Triang 3F just as Hornby would do for its production James seen below. This image from the 1979 Thomas the Tank Engine annual, with much thanks again to Ryan Healy.

The Rev. Awdry's 2nd model of James
Modeller's Corner

The Hornby model of James: based on Hornby's old Fowler 3F 0-6-0 dating from Triang days in the 1960s. Look carefully at the join where the footplate was extended at the front!

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Hornby model of James
Bachmann model of James

Bachmann's OO model of James

Available from Amazon's UK and US website

Lionel O-27 model of James. Available from Amazon.com (U.S.) Lionel O-gauge James
Bachmann Large Scale (G) model of James

Bachmann's Large Scale (G) model of James

Available from Amazon's US website


Fandom Corner

Read how Gavin Rose custom-built his own model of James that is true to the RWS. Click the image to the right to find out more...

Gavin Rose's model of James

Collector's Corner
Classic ERTL model of James TOMY model of James available from Amazon.co.uk
Classic ERTL model of James TOMY model of James
LC Wooden James from Amazon UK and US LC Take-Along James from Amazon UK and US
Learning Curve Wooden James Learning Curve Take Along James

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