Edward the Blue Engine
is a fictional anthropomorphic steam locomotive
from The Railway Series
by Rev W. Awdry
, and the TV Series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
. He is a blue 4-4-0 tender engine
with red stripes, about the same size as James the Red Engine
, and sports the number 2 on his tender. Also like James, he is a mixed traffic engine, meaning that he can easily pull freight or passengers, though he prefers freight. He is one of the major characters in both the books and the television series.
He is a kind engine, who is always keen to help a friend in need. The younger engines can always rely on him to lend a listening ear and sympathetic advice. He works hard and will always do his utmost to get a job done.
However, the big engines tend to see him as old-fashioned and slow. It is true that he is the oldest engine on the Fat Controller's railway (indeed, he helped to build it), but he has proved time and time again that despite his age he is entirely capable of working as hard as any engine. Several of the stories revolving around him, both in the books and television series, have involved Edward proving his worth to the others. Two of the most notable were 'Old Iron', in which he earned himself an overhaul by capturing a runaway James, and 'Edward's Exploit', in which he brought home a special train despite a breakdown.
He has a branch line which he runs with BoCo the diesel. He is equally happy with coaches or trucks, but he has also been known to help other engines with heavy loads, pull special trains and even act as a pilot engine for the Royal Train.
Edward was first featured in The Three Railway Engines, Awdry's first book, in 1945. Edward featured in his own book, Edward the Blue Engine in 1954.
Charlie Sand and Sidney Hever
Edward is the only engine whose driver and fireman are named in The Railway Series (Henry's driver was named in the annuals, being 'Ted'). In the foreword to 'Edward the Blue Engine', their names are given as Charlie Sand and Sidney Hever, and in the story 'Saved from Scrap', their names are mentioned.
These names are puns on their jobs. One of an engine driver's jobs is to sand the rails when they are slippery in order to allow the engine to grip. A fireman's job is to "heave" the coal from the tender or coal bunker to the engine's fire.
Their first names come from a real engine crew named Charlie and Sidney on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway (see Toby the Tram Engine).
Behind the Scenes
Edward was the first character created for The Railway Series
in 1943. The inspiration for the character came from the Rev. W. Awdry
watching trains on the Great Western Railway
as a child. He said in interviews with Brian Sibley
that to him, the noise of the locomotives' exhaust almost sounded like dialogue. For instance, the larger engines having trouble climbing the hills would appear to be saying, "I can't do it, I can't do it," and the smaller engines helping them would sound like they were saying, "I will do it! I will do it! I will do it!" This was the direct inspiration for the second story in The Three Railway Engines
, 'Edward and Gordon'. The first story was 'Edward's Day Out', which was an introduction to the character.
Unlike later characters in the Railway Series, Edward is not directly based upon any particular class of locomotive, but is a generic 4-4-0. The Rev. W. Awdry has claimed that Edward is based on a heavily modified Sharp, Stewart & Co. "Larger Seagull" locomotive supplied to the Furness Railway in 1896, but this is a piece of retcon created for the book The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways. Martin Clutterbuck notes that Edward bears a closer resemblance to certain Scottish locomotives of the North British Railway, notably the D20. It is likely that Awdry chose the Furness Railway locomotive because the Furness Railway was the closest mainland railway to Sodor.
The Furness origin for Edward is once again brought up in book 41 Thomas and Victoria, as Edward and Victoria are both from that area.
Edward in the TV Series
Edward is one of the eight engines in The Steam Team.
In recent episodes of the TV series, Edward has been portrayed as a bank engine, to help engines up Gordon's Hill – a reminiscent nod to the Season 1 Story Edward and Gordon.
In Season 10, Edward appears almost as cheeky and inexperienced as Thomas was in the first season. This is especially evident in the episode Edward Strikes Out, where he went as far as to call a new arrival "new-fangled nonsense". After this little mishap he became his old self again.
Edward was to appear in the film, Thomas and the Magic Railroad but never made it into the final cut. However, he did appear in the film's straight-to-DVD sequel, Calling All Engines.
In the Japanese version of Seasons 1-8, Edward is voiced by Yasuhiro Takato. Starting from Season 9, Edward's new voice actor is Nozomu Sasaki.