Troublesome Engines

I have recently had grandchildren staying and it makes me well aware that children move on. Not so long ago I could keep grandson and me happy by finding my old Reverend Awdry books and reading a story. His interest in such things has now gone but I can still remember back to my childhood and to repeatedly asking my mum to read the story of Henry and the elephant. It came from the book called Troublesome Engines which (I think) was the fifth in what people now call Thomas the Tank engine books.


And there we have my battered copy, with no dust jacket for in the hands of two and three year olds they are unlikely to last. This is a first edition of the book, published in 1950.


The story I particularly liked concerned a tunnel with a blockage. The engine, Henry, is sent out to discover what the problem is. The blockage slowly pushes the engine out of the tunnel and proves to be a circus elephant.


Henry then suffers the indignity of having the elephant shower water over him.


Oh how I laughed atthis picture and the words that accompany it.

And oh how times really have changed. Sixty five years ago nobody batted an eyelid about elephants and other animals being used in circuses. The awful caged conditions they were kept in – well, they were only wild beasts so it didn’t matter.

And then it would seem utterly amazing now to move circuses by train or that a railway company might keep special wagons for the transport of elephants. So, I suppose, the whole storyline would seem like total fantasy to 5 year old grandson. But in truth there was much fact behind the story although I do not know if an elephant ever escaped from a circus train.


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3 Responses to “Troublesome Engines”

  1. Jonathan Caswell Says:

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. Janet Says:

    Charming story. I’ll try it out on my 4 and 6 year old grandsons.

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