Isaac The Tank Engine

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For those obsessed with so-called-experts, Wikipedia has an article about:
Via Crucis and Thomas the Tank Engine but nothing on Isaac.

Isaac the Tank Engine is a Fictional anthropomorphic character created by the Rev W. V. Awdry, also known as the author of Thomas and Friends.

Thomas the Tank Engine, a literary invention of the Rev V. W. Awdry that has gained some measure of popularity.


The Creation

After the Second World War spirits were at an all time low, especially in England, the spiritual home of the Church of England. The then head of the Church of England wrote to his followers as follows.

Well, this old war has brought us all down and then some, eh wot.

Never mind Miladdoes. This is the time when all good men rally together around a single unifying symbol, dontcher know, wot. This country, this people, and this church need a damned good bucking up, if I do say so myself. What we need, wot, is a new kind of hero, one that is accessible by the kiddies, wot. Something to bring the people back to the good old C of E, and get those knees on the floor and those heads bowed in fervour, dontcher know wot me old bean.

I challenge all of you true faithful chaps around the countries, and in our colonies too, to create a new kind of hero, dontcher know wot, jolly old bean, my good fellow, I do say so myself, even if I'm a jolly old muggins, wot.[Citation needed because no-one can believe this crap.]

George VI signature.svg

Amongst others like C. S. Lewis, the Rev E. T. Awdry took up the cause and penned his first work in early 1946 based around his memories of Sunday school as a child, where he used to stare out of the window all morning at the trains going past and make up stories around them.

Isaac, his main character, is a tank engine; He was designed to create a parabolic reference to the spiritual head of the Anglican church after the second world war that made religion accessible to children. In his notes is written:

“Where normal tank engines carry water on either side of their boilers, Isaac will be the font from which whomsoever doth drinketh they shall never thirst.”
~ Rev P. T. Awdry


The Rev M. T Awdry dreamt for many years of being recognised by the head of the Anglican church.

Prior to the stories being published, however, the Rev M. V. Awdry attempted to destroy all of his earlier works and re-wrote them in a secular fashion. Some believe had a crisis of faith and he realised that he wasn't aware of whether he believed in the existence of an interventionist God [Citation needed as the author is obviously full of shit.]. Others believe that he had shown the work to friends and family who universally dismissed the work as overly melodramatic and often in poor taste.[Citation needed as the author is is clearly on crack.].

The Birth of a New Concept

He instead wrote a gentler, kinder version of the stories that was released later in 1946, which he entitled "Thomas the Tank Engine." The reason for the change of name as Thomas reflected a different side of the Reverend, and potentially was referring to the Apostle Thomas, also known as "Doubting Thomas", reflecting his own feelings of doubt. Although he was eventually successful, it was a further 10 years before he was thanked personally by the head of the Anglican Church.

After the Rev V. D. Awdry passed away in 1997 his writings were all sent to Cambridge University for the purposes of being inducted into the BHS[1], along side the Beefeaters and the American Civil War.

The discovery

Finally in 2002, scholars opened the box and unearthed some of the earlier writings of Rev R. V. Awdry, and hence posted details online. The introduction and the first fourteen stories were bundled together in a collection entitled "Isaac the Tank Engine and The Via Crucis: The Stations of the Cross."[Citation needed but you'll never get it.]

Plot synopsis

The following are the summaries of the stations the Rev U. 2. Awdry wrote about, as summarised by The Literary Misinterpretation Department Of Cambridge University after their amazing discovery.


Can you think of a station where you have had to wait?
Stations are a place where people stop to think about Isaac the Tank Engine, and what he did for us. You may have been at a station before, like a school bus-stop, or a bus station bathroom at 3:00am, or at platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station.

Can you think of a station where you have had to wait?

Station 1: Gethsemane Gardens Station

Isaac was feeling very sad, and so he went with his carriages to a place called Gethsemane. He said to his carriages, “Sit here while I go over there and play.” He took along Percy and the two daughters of Culdee, the mountain train, and then they all started to play together, but then Isaac felt even sadder, and wanted to be alone to play by himself, so he said to them, “Remain here and keep watch with me.” And then he went away to have some private time.

After a while he came back and found Percy and the two daughters of Culdee, and they were all asleep, so he said, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Have you ever felt so sad you've wanted to be alone to play with yourself?

Station 2: Betrayal Station

“The engine I bump into when we get to the station is a silly head.”
While Isaac was speaking, Fred, the Orange Coal Car, arrived with a crowd of engines all with very unhappy faces. Fred had previously planned with the others saying “The engine I bump into when we get to the station is a silly head.” When Fred Came in he was going much too fast, and he bumped into the back of Isaac. Fred dented Isaac so much that Isaac needed to be taken away to the Sanhedrin Station.

Fred had been planning to hurt Isaac. Have you ever had a friend hurt you? Did it make you sad? Did you enjoy it?

Station 3: Sanhedrin Station

Isaac had to travel all through night to get to Sanhedrin Station, so when day came he was very tired. The Troublesome Trucks met with Isaac, and they teased him saying, “If you are the future of travel, tell us.”

Isaac said to them, “If I said I was, you wouldn't believe me anyway, because you're just being mean.”

They then all danced around him chanting, “You're the train of tomorrow. You're the train of tomorrow.” and laughed at him.

Have you ever had people laugh at you? Does it make you feel embarrassed?

Station 4: Denial Station

“Before the cock, you will be a liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Now Percy was sitting outside in the train yard. One of the mechanics came over to him and said, “You were with Isaac the Tank Engine.”

Percy didn't want to say that he was with Isaac, because he didn't want to get into trouble too. So he said, “I do not know what you are talking about!”, but that was a lie.

As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This train was with Isaac the Tank Engine.”

Percy started getting angry, and said, “I do not know the machine!”, which was another lie.

A little later the passengers came over and said to Percy, “You must have been Isaac's friend. You even talk funny like him.”

Now Percy was usually an honest little engine, but he was really afraid of getting into trouble, and was getting very angry, so he said some rude words[2], and said “I honestly and truly do not know the Tank!”

And immediately he heard a cock. Then Percy remembered the words that Isaac had spoken: “Before the cock, you will be a liar, liar, pants on fire.” Percy went away very sad.

Have you ever lied because you were afraid of being in trouble?

Station 5: Pilate station

Bertram, the Old warrior.
The Troublesome Trucks tied Isaac up, led him away, and handed him over to the Fat Controller.

Isaac stood before Sir Topham Hatt the Fat Controller, and the Fat Controller asked him, “Are you the king of the trains?”

“Yes, it is as you say,” Isaac replied. But the Troublesome Trucks kept making up lies about him, so he didn't answer.

Then Sir Topham Hatt asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Isaac made no reply, not even to a single charge — so the Fat Controller was very surprised.

Have you ever had someone say untrue things about you?

Station 6: The Police Station

The police hit him and made fun of him.
The police led Isaac into the storage shed and made him put on an old purple drop sheet and they twisted together a crown of barbed wire to put on his smoke stack. Then they hit him and made fun of him, saying, “You’re not really the train of the future!”, and “Do you think you have gold lining?” They didn't understand that he really was the train of the future.

The Fat Controller then came out before the Troublesome Trucks again and said "Behold, I find no gilt on this train."

Have you ever been afraid of the police?

Station 7: Kings Cross Station

"We have no new trains but diesel."
ANow it was the Fat Controller’s custom during holidays to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Bertram. So when the crowd had gathered, Sir Topham Hatt asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Bertram, or Isaac who is called the train of the future?” (You see, he knew the Troublesome Trucks brought Isaac over to him because they were jealous.).

But the Troublesome Trucks persuaded the crowd to ask for Bertram and to have Isaac executed.

“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the Fat Controller.

“Bertram,” they answered.

“What shall I do, then, with Isaac who is called Christ?” Sir Topham Hatt asked.

They all answered, “Withdraw him!”

“Why? What has he done wrong?” asked Sir Topham Hatt.

But they shouted all the louder, “Withdraw him!”

So they took Isaac away to go to a scrap yard in a place called Golgotha.

Have you ever been punished when you've done nothing wrong?

Station 8: Simon station

The load that Isaac was carrying was too heavy for Isaac to get up the side of Skull Hill, and he started to break down. So the police looked for another engine to help. Simon, a Cyrenian, or passenger train, that was just passing by after coming in from the country, was attached to Isaac as well for that extra push.

Have you ever been so tired you can't do something?

Station 9: Jerusalem Meet

Some of the engines were sad to see him going to the scrap yard..
As Isaac was going very slowly with his load, a large crowd of engines, carriages and passengers followed him, including many engines and women who were very sad to see him going to the scrap yard.

Isaac turned to them though, and said, “Daughters of the tracks, do not weep for me; for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the trams, the buses that never bore freight and the bicycles never ridden.’”

Have you ever felt sad for somebody else?

Station 10: Crucifixion Station

When they came to the place called the Skull, they pushed him and the old clunkers there, one on his right, the other on his left, into the scrap yard.

Then Isaac said, "I feel sorry for the people hurting me, because they don't really know what they are doing."

Have you ever forgiven somebody for being stupid?

Station 11: Promise Place

Now one of the clunkers rusting there made fun of Isaac, saying, “Are you not the Train of the future? If you are, you can get not only yourself, but also us out of here!”

The second clunker though the first clunker was naughty though, and said to him, “You're a silly billy for not being afraid. You're in here to rust as well! And we should be, because we're old and faulty, but this Tank Engine is in fine working condition.”

Then he said, “Isaac, will you remember me when you become the train of tomorrow?”

Have you ever thought old people were silly and should be put away in a special home?

Station 12: Chatenham Station

The scrap yard at the place of the Skull.
Isaac saw his manufacturer and his designer, and some other people he knew. Isaac felt bad for his manufacturer, she was so sad to see her engine be withdrawn (just like your parents feel when you get hurt).

Then Isaac saw one of his carriages close to his manufacturer, and he said, “Maker, here is your son, and carriage here is your maker.” Isaac couldn't say too much, he was very weak. But he wanted his carriage, the one that followed him to be like an engine to his maker, and take care of her.

And from that day on the carriage took the manufacturer into his payload.

Do you like to see the people you care about care for each other?

Station 13: Mortem Station

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the walls of central station were cracked down the middle.

Isaac cried out in a loud voice, “Into your hands I commend my metal”, and when he had said this he chuffed his last puff of steam.

Have you ever lost something that you really loved? Did it make you feel sad?

Station 14: Graveyard Stopping Place

The Fat Controller sold the chassis of Isaac to Mel, the rich man from California.
After Isaac stopped working a rich man named Mel (from California), who was a train spotter, went to the Fat Controller and asked for the chassis of Isaac. He then transported it in his new steel mill that he had built. Before Mel left, he rolled the huge doors closed across the entrance to the mill and locked them, so nobody could get in or out.

Have you ever been locked away? Been locked in a closet or a basement? Have you called child services?

The continuing saga

The untold story

It is believed that although the Via Crucis series finishes here, the Rev S. M. Awdry had planned for a sequel to follow, where Isaac came out of the factory as a re-made solar-powered train. He was to be proclaimed as the train of the future and everyone would be able to ride on him to a better tomorrow, but alas, this was not meant to be.

The celebration of the discovery

Due to the discovery in 2002 and the ramifications throughout the Church, it was decided that a special performance was to be put on as art of the 80th birthday celebrations for the head of the Anglican church.

A "real" Isaac was used in a special play, The Queen's Handbag. The play starring well-loved characters from children's literature, such as The Pirate Queen, Wallace and Grommit, Captain Hook, Winnie the Pooh, and many more. In the play, the near 'life-sized' Isaac carried Sophie Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl to the stage to meet The Fat Controller at the beginning of the show.[3]

Rumours have circulated that a movie version is to be made, however this remains to be seen.


  1. British Hall of Stuff that is vital to our cultural identity but we're actually kind of embarrassed about and would prefer that nobody noticed
  2. “You corpulent bag of wind! You have the facial features that are reminiscent of the back end of a camel!”

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