|This article is about the engine. You may be looking for the Railway Series book or the magazine story.|
The Railway Series
Gordon was built at Doncaster in 1922 as an experimental prototype for Sir Nigel Gresley’s A1 Pacific design for the Great Northern Railway. Inevitably there were faults which needed correction; so Gordon was kept "hush hush" and, apart from test runs, was never put into regular traffic or given a GNR number. He was used experimentally untill all defects had been cured and the first batch of Pacifics had appeared in 1922/23. In 1923 therefore Gordon was no longer needed, and was sold to the NWR together with a spare boiler and firebox.
During Gordon's early years on the railway, he often looked down on the smaller engines like Edward and Thomas. However, he would soon find he needed help from Edward to be his banker after he got stuck on a hill with a train of trucks. He also needed Edward and Henry to pull his passenger train after he broke his safety valve in front of Henry's Tunnel.
Gordon often found Thomas very annoying for whistling rudely at him, so he taught him a lesson by bringing him along his express train before he could be uncoupled. Thomas usually fetched the coaches for him, however, after Thomas left the yard when he was given a branch line, Gordon, along with Henry and James, soon found that they had to fetch their own coaches. After the big engines had several mishaps, one of which involved Gordon having to pull his train backwards, Gordon proposed that they all go on strike, where they would only pull their coaches if another engine fetched them. Edward was the only engine left and since he was a tender engine and that Gordon proposed that tender engines do not shunt, they started to discriminate against Edward until the Fat Controller decided to leave them in the shed until they learned the error of their ways.
After Gordon, Henry and James saw how silly they were, the Fat Controller let them out, reminding them to behave and bought a tank engine named Percy to help fetch their coaches. Gordon almost had a run-in accident with Percy when he carelessly stood on the Main Line. After Percy ran away backwards and stopped in a pile of dirt, Gordon helped him out. Gordon was still arrogant and insulted Henry for the way he whistled. However, he ate his own words when his whistle jammed and he went running down the main line whistling continuously. He did not stop until a fitter climbed up and knocked his whistle in place.
Gordon is mainly used for passenger duties, pulling the North Western Railway's express, the Wild Nor' Wester, but has occasionally pulled goods trains, much to his dislike. He has been known to run into ditches and stop on hills to get out of doing these jobs, as he believes that these are below him.
In 1939, Gordon went to Crewe for a rebuild. His conjugated valve gear, which had been giving much trouble, was replaced by a two-cylinder chassis (designed by the Fat Controller), he received a smoother running plate, Stanier underframes and cylinders. This rebuild effectively made him a Gresley/Stanier hybrid.
Gordon has become famous after his adventures: In 1952, he was forbidden from pulling passenger trains following his incident in the ditch he caused, but after a period of good behavior, by 1953, his punishment ended and he pulled Queen Elizabeth II's royal train. In 1956, he travelled to London, where he was lauded by a large crowd. Gordon did not like the visit, however, as he discovered that London's big station was St. Pancras, which he thought was King's Cross.
In 1957, when Diesel arrived on trial and was having trouble moving some old trucks, he decided to make rumours about Duck giving Gordon a bad nickname, the "Galloping Sausage." So he, Henry and James began to turn against Duck by forbidding him from the shed. However, when the truth came out that Duck had not made the nicknames, they begin to feel very silly about jumping to conclusions before knowing the true story.
In 1965, Gordon complained about BoCo going on the main line, because the diesel only works on Edward's Branch Line. He claims that the Fat Controller would never agree and states that branch lines are vulgar. That night, Gordon's crew mistakenly claimed that the passenger with a green hat is the guard waving his green flag. As a result, Gordon leaves with the majority of the passengers, the luggage, and the guard stranded on the platform. Everyone is surprised, but the surprise quickly gives way to anger. This makes Gordon so embarrassed, he brought his train back down to the big station as Edward was already late with his train. But the signalman at the junction wasn't told about the change. Because of this, Edward was sent to the main line and Gordon was sent down to Edward's branch line.
In 1967, Gordon felt devastated about his siblings were all scrapped on the Mainland, but happy to hear that his brother Flying Scotsman was preserved, when the Fat Controller brought him to reunit with Gordon.
Then, in 1986, Gordon got to visit Carlisle when a Diesel taking a Railtour failed.
As Gordon could not go far on the Other Railway due to a lack of waterpipes, Gordon would have to change places with a diesel locomotive at Barrow, who'd take the Wild Nor' Wester onwards to London. By the early 2000's, however, this wasted too much time and the timetable was considered too slow. Sir Stephen Hatt decided to buy Pip and Emma to run the service, as they are capable of doing a complete round trip every day, which he did so in 2011. Gordon now pulls fast passenger trains, which he prefers as he can do two round trips per day instead of one and doesn't need to hurry.
Gordon's last train of the day stops at all the stations on the Main Line. One evening, delays on the Other Railway resulted in him being late. At Killdane, he encountered a fire and he urged his driver to do something; his driver used a hose to put out the fire with water from Gordon's tender. Following this, the Fire Brigade recommended him for The Queen's Fire Service Medal, which he is very proud of.
Thomas & Friends
Gordon has to date been the fastest engine on Sodor, but has sometimes had accidents, due to him trying to show off. In the fifth season, his brakes were not working, and could not stop, in result of him crashing through the Kirk Ronan Station wall. Also, in the sixth season, he ignored Salty's advice about going slow while pulling trucks, in result of him speeding down a rickety old branch line, and tumbling into a field. Though he has proven to not be too big for his wheels, and be useful instead, like when Spencer first arrived on Sodor, he gave him advice about taking on water before going to Maron Station, in result, he ran out of water on Gordon's Hill, and Gordon had to pull him there.
Thomas & the Magic Railroad
In the film, Gordon complained to Thomas, who was late and Thomas retorted that Gordon was being bossy and told him that he had to find Mr. Conductor, who was coming to visit Sodor to look after the North Western Railway while Sir Topham Hatt was taking a holiday. He thought Mr. Conductor was not needed until Diesel 10 sped through Thomas and Gordon at Killaban by. Later, he, James and Thomas argued about who should have taken Mr. Conductor and retorted that James is a big engine and Thomas is a small blue engine.
Gordon's important position as the engine who usually pulls the Express has made him proud, pompous and arrogant, with good reason too; he is the strongest engine on Sodor. Gordon's philosophy "tender engines don't shunt" meant that he looked down on tank engines and tender engines who do shunt, but after being locked in the shed with Henry and James after going on strike, he seems to have abandoned this philosophy.
Because of his rank in the social order of the North Western Railway, Gordon expects to get the important jobs and either sulks when he does not, or gets jealous of those who do. Sometimes, Gordon acts as a bully, particularly towards Edward, but following misadventures where Edward had to help him, Gordon had to acknowledge that despite being old, Edward is still a very useful engine.
Sometimes Gordon shows a kinder side and gives the younger engines advice, usually after he has had some mishap as a result of his foolhardiness. Some of his advice is not exactly honest, though, as James and Sir Handel have discovered.
According to Sudrian "historian" Martin Clutterbuck, Gordon is supposed to be an experimental prototype for Sir Nigel Gresley's A1 Pacific design for the Great Northern Railway - the so-called "A0". Gordon was then built at Doncaster Works, Yorkshire, and tested against a similar NER Pacific in 1923. Gordon, being an experimental engine, never received a number, and was later rebuilt at Crewe with LMS underparts and a six-wheel tender, owing to various problems. Gordon has since been rebuilt below the footplate according to Stanier designs, his running plate being Sir Topham Hatt's own design.
Gordon is painted NWR blue with NWR red-and-yellow lining and the number "4" painted on his tender sides in yellow. Before arriving on Sodor, he was painted Doncaster green with white and black lining.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
- Gordon is named after a rude boy that lived on the Awdrys' street when Christopher was a child.
- The official website inaccurately states that Gordon is a "Liner" (LNER) A3 Pacific like his brother, Flying scotsman.
- Since Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Gordon's rear bogie has been joined to his driving wheel chassis.
- In real life, Gordon's Shooting Star look would be too large for the British loading gauge.
- Gordon's upset face is used for Boulder in Rusty and the Boulder.
- In the Greek narration of the Classic Series, Gordon is called Johny. From thirteenth season onward, Gordon has been referred to with his original name.
- According to the Rev. W. Awdry in the book The Thomas the Tank Engine Man, the reason why Gordon has square buffers is because not long after he got his new safety valve following the events of The Three Railway Engines, he was showing it off and not paying to his surroundings. He crashed into the end of the "Big Station" at Tidmouth, damaging his buffers and had to go to the Works to have them replaced. The only buffers available were long, square ones, which Gordon despised at first, but soon got used to them and became proud of being the only engine on the railway with square buffers. Then Henry had a similar incident to Gordon and got square buffers himself (explaining the illustration error in "Thomas and the Guard"), now the subject of buffers offends Gordon greatly when mentioned to him.
- Two of Gordon's face masks, one grinning and one eyes shut, are now owned by Twitter user Thomas Merchandise.
- Gordon has went through several aesthetic changes in the television series:
- Season 4:
- His brake pipe is facing downward.
- He shares the same whistle sound as Duck in nearly all of his roles.
- The eyebrows on his first shocked face are thickened.
- Season 5:
- He regained his old whistle sound, excluding "Bye George!".
- Thomas and the Magic Railroad:
- His brake pipe is facing upward again.
- He gained red lining on the cab side of his tender.
- His trailing wheels became larger and moved forward, joining to his driving wheel chassis.
- The wonky eyebrow on his second shocked face is corrected.
- Season 6:
- The lining on his pistons was moved slightly inwards.
- Season 4:
- ERTL (normal and Gold Rail; both discontinued)
- Wooden Railway
- Take-Along (normal, metallic, and lights and sounds; discontinued)
- Bandai Tecs
- Brio (discontinued)
- Wind-up Trains