The Little Old Engine
Author Wilbert Awdry
Illustrator John T. Kenney
Publication date 1959-Present
Published by Edmund Ward
Egmont Publishing
Publication Order
Preceded by
Duck and the Diesel Engine
Followed by
The Twin Engines
The Little Old Engine is the fourteenth book in the Railway Series made by Reverend Wilbert Awdry.


Dear Friends,

You remember in Four Little Engines that Sir Handel Brown, the Owner, sent Skarloey to be mended. These stories tell what happened when "The Little Old Engine" came home.

Skarloey is not real. You can only see him in the books. But there is a real engine just like Skarloey. He is very, very old, and has been mended. His name is Talyllyn, and he lives at Towyn in Wales.

You would all enjoy going to see him at work.

The Author



Skarloey is being mended and Sir Handel is getting sick of the work. Gordon advises him to take on sick leave and Sir Handel does. The Thin Controller did not have the time to arrange this, but next morning Peter Sam and Rusty who was brought by the railway took his Slate Trucks to the Slate Quarry. Although being mistaken, the trucks think Peter Sam IS Sir Handel and wanted to pay him out for his sickness. The loaded ones want to ram him off the rails, but their fellow empties said Peter Sam's down there which was no use.

A coupling snapped and the Slate Trucks smash into Peter Sam causing a jet of water rushing down on him. Rusty came to clear up the mess, but Sir Handel apologises and has him sent to work by the Thin Controller. This gave Gordon a piece of his own mind.

Home at LastEdit

Peter Sam still recovers from his accident at the Slate Quarry and meets Skarloey at the railway sheds. The fourth narrow-gauge engine tells him that new coaches and a guard's van have been introduced to the railway which some are for Sir Handel and the others for them. The trouble is that Duncan has been brought by the Thin Controller to work for him since Peter Sam's accident. Skarloey is told to collect some workmen and tools because Duncan is stuck at the far end of the tunnel. He soon was silent by the Thin Controller who told him that tunnels are not dance floors and was ashamed about being rebuked from the cave-in. Duncan's driver was absolutely right about the "rock 'n' roll" stunt at the collapsed tunnel.

Rock 'n' RollEdit

Skarloey meets Rusty one day and praises the little Diesel for his work. At the sheds, Rusty tells Skarloey that a piece of the railway line before one train station has been loose and is afraid that Duncan will derail by his rock 'n' roll. Duncan overhears them and bluntly says to them to "speak in plain English".  The Scottish engine then needed to collect his coaches and insults Rusty by saying that he doesn't need a "smelly" Diesel to help him. He meets James at Crovans Gate late for his first passenger train and plans to sack Rusty from the railway.

Unfortunately, the plan backfires when Duncan derails on that piece of railway line before the train station after Crovans Gate, but at the sheds where Mr. Hugh tells Rusty that he needs to help Duncan, Rusty refuses to accept his help. Skarloey tells him off by what the passengers will be stranded there for.the night. Rusty now offers to help with Duncan back on the rails and took him home. Duncan tells Rusty it was his bad excuse to call the Diesel as "smelly" and bonded with each other afterwards.

Little Old TwinsEdit

Some men are tour inspecting the Skarloey Railway for something unusual. Sir Handel and Peter Sam believe this happened on the Mid Sodor Railway in 1947 and if they want it, they would be "sold" for hundreds or thousands of Sterling Pound in British history, the largest amount of all. The engines were upset, but Peter Sam's driver says they weren't sold for anything and the men were doing it for a special television documentary on the railway at that time. The Thin Controller acting as Richard Robert Norramby (the Duke of Sodor) says that everything is prepared with Sir Handel staying back and Peter Sam pulling the television train.

The tour was successful by the BBC and Skarloey tells about his "Little Old Twin" named Talyllyn who works on the Talyllyn Railway at Towyn in Wales.



  • To date, the story "Little Old Twins" had seven hundred and ninety words making it the longest story in history.
  • The Reverend acknowledged the help given from the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in the preparation of this book. He also acknowledged the help by John Adams (publicity) Ltd. in the preparation for the illustration of Talyllyn.


  • Duncan is not coupled to the coaches in the sixth illustration of "Home at Last".
  • James has his old cab roof with a red top again.
  • Throughout "Home at Last", Peter Sam has round buffers.
  • Sir Handel has red wheels in the third illustration of "Home at Last".
  • Peter Sam's funnel isn't broken in any story, except the first one.

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