Gavin's vision of James
Gavin's version of James
James, according to the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, is an experimental extension of a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Class 28 built by James Hughes. He took the design of a Class 28 and built a new engine fitted with 5'6" wheels as opposed to the standard 5'1" wheels, extended the running plate for the fitting of the pony wheel truck that was thought to cure the weight distribution problem the 28's had, and that's about all the information we have of him. We're told that James was sold to the NWR by LMS after the 1923 Grouping [1], judging that these modifications had not improved the engine's performance that much. Once in the NWR's hands, most of the design faults were corrected, including the replacement of James' wooden brake blocks.

To make James, I bought a brass kit of a L&YR Class 28 and soldered it together making the necessary changes to fit the above engine's description. This included slightly altering the frames; spending over 12 hours scratch-building splashers from a brass sheet amongst many other things. I altered the shape of the front windows to make it resemble James' and gave the engine front extensions as per illustrations. Whether or not these two changes would have appeared on the “real” James or not is anyone's guess, but I do not think it an impossibility. I'm happy to say that my good friend Simon Martin claims to have seen the real drawings for this one-off locomotive and has given me the thumbs-up, so that's encouraging!

I equipped James with the usual brass kit 3500 gallon Fowler tender that I gave Gordon MK II with the horizontal strips removed. I do not know whether this is the correct tender for NWR engines, but they nearly all acquired the 'low-capacity Fowler tender' at some point, and a capacity of 3500 gallons is low compared to a lot. It also looks fitting, so I feel it is most likely the 'real' tender on the NWR - mind you, this isn't fact, just speculation on my part. The issue of the horizontal strip that I usually remove from the model is open to debate, however I know that some riveted tender sides are recycled and rebuilt into another tender with the rivets facing inward rather than outward. This technique offers possible evidence that the same could be said of the strip that I'm guessing is added for structural strength.

Either way it currently isn't too much of an issue. If it requires me to build new tenders in the future, that's okay - I can't accept there being a thick strip on the tender though!

In the RWS there are several combinations of James's livery. I feel that they all are correct depending on the stories' chronology, so I picked my favorite to match the same that the TV series model makers had chosen.

Click buttons below to view Gavin's gallery for James

[1] Readers sometimes misinterpret the Rev. Awdry's reference to "Grouping" in his book: The Island of Sodor...(1987) as being 1948. Perhaps this assumption was due in part because RWS book No.4: James the Red Engine was first published in 1948. In fact, it actually refers to the First Grouping that came into effect on January 1st, 1923. The 1923 date is clarified and backed up by Christopher Awdry under James' entry in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines (2005).