And it’s not just Henry who receives the Reverend’s fossil-fuelled justice. Sodor experiences its own miniature version of the cold war with the arrival of Bulgy, a red (yes, red, just like a Soviet) double-decker bus who cries “Free the roads!” and anticipates the revolutionary overthrow of rail transport.
Bulgy gets trapped under a bridge, painted green and converted into a henhouse. That’s what you get for being a blow-hard socialist. But in terms of class warfare, Bulgy’s doom has nothing on what’s done to the truculent Troublesome Truck who refuses to learn his place during one of the later stories. Having caused intolerable levels of confusion and delay, the offending blue-collar worker is coupled (see how much I’ve learnt about railway management from these terrible bedtimes?) between two engines pulling in opposite directions and yanked until he flies apart.
The climactic frame of that story, with a wincing truck-face lying splintered on the ground, is one of the most disturbing in children’s literature. Is he dead? Does he suffer? Could he be recombined – and if he was, would he feel the thirst for vengeance against those who tried to murder him?