Annie and Clarabel

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Annie and Clarabel
Thomas and Friends character
The coaches side by side as models.
First appearanceThomas the Tank Engine (1946)
Created byRev. W. Awdry
Voiced byTeresa Gallagher
Shelley-Elizabeth Skinner (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
NationalityBritish English Logo.png Search Annie and Clarabel on Amazon.

Annie and Clarabel are 2 anthropomorphic passenger coaches from The Railway Series children's books by the Rev. W. Awdry and its television adaptation, Thomas (the Tank Engine) & Friends. In the stories, they are Thomas the Tank Engine's passenger coaches.

Description and appearances[edit]

Annie and Clarabel both have seating accommodation for carrying passengers; Clarabel also has a brake compartment for luggage and a guard. They have been described by the Rev. Awdry as being old and in need of new paint; however, Thomas loves them dearly and would never dream of being separated from them. The two coaches are nearly always seen coupled together, with Annie usually facing Thomas and Clarabel facing backwards. They are the first official female characters to appear in the series.

In The Adventure Begins, when Thomas met Annie and Clarabel for the first time (before he got his branch line) he thought they were the express coaches. He apologised and introduced himself, leaving them both impressed. They were often pulled by James.

Not only do they carry passengers for Thomas, but they also act as advisors and confidantes. On several occasions they have warned him about potential hazards, and Thomas invariably runs into trouble when he ignores their warnings. Annie and Clarabel are occasionally pulled by other engines when Thomas is busy (usually by Percy, Toby, Duck, Caitlin, Stanley, and Emily), but Thomas always worries for their safety and can sometimes be jealous.

The Railway Series[edit]

The coaches first appeared in the 1946 book Thomas the Tank Engine, in which they were awarded to Thomas along with his branch line. In this first, brief appearance, they were not named. In Tank Engine Thomas Again (1949), they were given names and their characters were greatly expanded upon.

In The Railway Series, they are depicted as bogie coaches (i.e. each coach is supported on a pair of four-wheeled bogies or "trucks"). In the television series they are depicted as four-wheeled coaches – they are built on a rigid chassis, with fixed axles. In both series they appear in a plain orangey-brown colour, and in the television series they also have their names painted on their body sides. The color scheme is based on that of the former British LNER railway, which formed the basis for a number of Awdry's early characters; that railway's carriages were not painted in the normal manner of other railways, but had a teak-wood finish on the outside, which was plain varnished over, the resulting livery being known as "varnished teak". When steel carriages were introduced later, a paint scheme was devised by the LNER which closely resembled this colour scheme.

Thomas & Friends[edit]

They first appeared in the first season of the television program Thomas (the Tank Engine) & Friends and have been in every season since. They had no speaking role from Season 10 until Season 17. And since then, they again have speaking roles.


In a sense, Annie is the oldest character in the Railway Series. Wilbert Awdry was a model railway enthusiast long before he wrote the stories. In 1927, while still at school, he built a model coach. In 1948 he constructed models of Thomas and his coaches to run at a local village fair, and so used that 1927 coach as Annie. He built a new coach to represent Clarabel.

Unlike most characters in The Railway Series, Annie and Clarabel do not appear to be based upon any specific prototype. However, they are fairly typical of suburban coaches, such as might have been used for branch and secondary services. Christopher Awdry has suggested in a character profile that they may have been rebuilt from older, six-wheeled coaches by The Fat Controller. Unlike most of the engines, the history of Annie and Clarabel before their first appearance in the books has been kept very vague. Most merchandise of the coaches show Annie with a shocked expression on her face, while Clarabel is usually depicted smiling.

The characters designs on television bear a strong resemblance to coaches of the Metropolitan Railway,[1] part of which is now part of the London Underground. Annie and Clarabel, along with Old Slow Coach, are the only coaches to have facial features, except for the Narrow Gauge Coaches in Season 4. Annie and Clarabel are also very similar to the old coaches in Season 1.

See also[edit]

  • Shining Time Station
  • Thomas the Tank Engine


  1. "Annie and Clarabel". Archived from the original on 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2006-01-25. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

External links[edit]

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