Great Little Engines
Great Little Engines
Author Christopher Awdry
Illustrator Clive Spong
Publication date 1985-Present
Publication Order
Preceded by
James and the Diesel Engines
Followed by
More About Thomas the Tank Engine
Great Little Engines is the twenty-ninth book of the Railway Series.


Dear Friends,

Sir Handel has been helping on the Talyllyn Railway, at Towyn, in Wales.

"You could write a book about it," he said when I went to see him.

Sir Handel was conceited before he went: whatever would happen, I thought, if he had a book all to himself? But some of his adventures were too good to waste, so I mixed them with stories about the other engines. That ought to keep everyone happy.

The Author


Patience is a VirtueEdit

The Thin Controller asks Sir Handel to visit the Talyllyn Railway, but trouble is that Duke's restoration isn't completed yet and Prime Minister Thatcher is called up that he has to wait. Sir Handel's passenger trains were longer and longer in the summer holidays taking them to events including football matches and one day a goalkeeper kicks the ball and a footballl player heads it up high but then ball comessndow , but there was not enough coaches and passengers were forced to ride with the Train conductor in Beatrice. Sir Handel is impatient with the tickets being checked through and leaves without the Train conductor who quickly has every ticket through and tries to run after it. A passenger who notices the staff member running after the train presses the emergency buzzer and Sir Handel stops the train only to reveal his mistake.

The train races towards Crovans Gate with the Train conductor onboard and arrives there on time. The guard tells Sir Handel that "patience is a virtue" and what happened at the previous station back there.

Peter Sam and the Prickly ProblemEdit

Men have been trimming bushes so that the passengers can see the scenery and Rusty collects them. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the time for workmen to pick them up and leave them where they are. The Thin Controller would have been cross if bigger branches can strike a passenger or goods train by blocking the engines' turning of wheels. One day, Peter Sam with a passenger train sees some branches left on the line by Rusty and fearing that the passengers will miss James' train, he recklessly ploughs at it.

The more he ploughs, the more there is a chance of blocking his wheels turn. His valve gear jams and front cut off meant that he was very sore for several days. Duncan believes that being very sore is nothing to get prickly about and Sir Handel is at the sheds with the other engines.

Pop SpecialEdit

Near the Skarloey Railway, some scouts are camping beside the line and their scoutmaster says they will work on the railway line to fix some tracks since Duncan was derailed by a buckle of these in 1959. One sweltering day, Duncan was told by the scoutmaster that the scouts are protesting longer if they don't get their soda or be exhausted for a long time. The Refreshment Lady whom Peter Sam left behind in 1955 has run out of these, but another shop brings these as spares onto Duncan's train and the scouts were grateful that the soda tasted much better than the other one.

Sir Handel Comes HomeEdit

Thanking the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for waiting longer, Sir Handel was welcomed home by the other engines and recounts his stories on the Talyllyn Railway and present there was Richard Edward Geoffrey Howe, one of the senior Conservative Party ministers and Edward du Cann a former minister. Some members from Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom came to visit and had another engine pull their train, while Sir Handel pulled a train of wedding guests. When Peter Sam says about his prickly problem with some branches, Sir Handel encounters a similar one to Peter Sam's. He was turning around a bend when a fallen tree hit him in the face. Both his driver and fireman made a huge fuss about this and went so far to bandage him even giving an eyepatch. All the passengers when some football players and fans from both teams said that he looks like a pirate out at sea and the goalkeeper hit the ball away, but Sir Handel loved his trip and was glad to be back home with his friends.



  • The title of the book was inspired by a campaign on the Talyllyn Railway called "Great Little Trains".


  • Sir Handel appears in the last illustration of "Peter Sam and the Prickly Problem". It seems Awdry and Spong weren't sure about which engine went to visit the Talyllyn Railway.
  • the goalkeeper should have asked for the ball when he accidentally hit it away.

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