Ivor the Engine





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Ivor the Engine is a children's animation by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's Smallfilms company. It is a children's television series relating the adventures of a small green locomotive who lived in the "top left-hand corner of Wales" and worked for the Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway Traction Company Limited. His friends included Jones the Steam, Evans the Song and Dai Station, among many other characters.

Ivor the Engine was Smallfilms' first production, and drew inspiration from Postgate's World War 2 encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, a former railway locomotive fireman with the Royal Scot train, who described how steam engines came to life when you spent time steaming them up in the morning. Postgate decided to relocate the story to Wales, as it was more inspirational than the flat terrain of the English Midlands, and the story lines drew heavily on, and were influenced by, the works of Dylan Thomas.



The locomotive of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited. Unlike most steam locomotives, Ivor had a mind of his own. He could drive himself and, using his whistle, could speak. His fondest dream was to sing with the Grumbley and District Choral Society, a dream that was realised when his whistle was replaced with three pipes from an old Fairground Organ. He became first bass of the choir, as well as providing them with a means of getting from place to place.

Ivor enjoys doing all sorts of things that people do. As well as singing in the choir, he likes visiting the seaside, making tea from his boiler and spending time with his friends. He is fond of animals, and has several of them among his friends. He can be wilful and disobedient at times, and it is not unknown for him to go and do his own thing when he should be working. He dislikes shunting and timetables.

Jones the Steam

Edwin Jones is Ivor's driver. He is a cheerful and kind-hearted man who perhaps sympathises more than most railway staff with Ivor's idiosyncrasies. Postgate and Firmin describe him as "an ordinary engine driver who is there to cope with whatever needs to be coped with". People who are new to the area find him rather eccentric for talking to his engine.

When not driving Ivor or helping the engine with his latest flight of fancy, he enjoys fishing and day-dreaming.

Dai Station

Station master at Llaniog. He is a stickler for the regulations of the railway, but sometimes bends the rules to help his friends. His life is made a little difficult by the fact that Ivor really doesn't care much for regulations at all. Although he is often gloomy, he is a good person at heart.

Owen the Signal

Owen the Signal inhabits a signal box near Ivor's shed and makes an occasional cameo appearance in the episodes.

Evans the Song

Evan Evans is the portly choirmaster of the Grumbley and District Choral Society, and Jones the Steam's brother-in-law.

Mrs Porty

A rich eccentric who enjoys the occasional glass of port and has new hats sent from London every week. She is also technically the owner of the railway, having bought it when the line was threatened with nationalisation. However, she does not bother much with the day-to-day running, and things remained much the same after she bought it.

Mr Dinwiddy

A very odd, possibly insane miner who lives in the hills and digs for gold. He enjoys explosions and mining. In fact, his mountain is full of gold, but as soon as he digs it up, he puts it back again. He often has need of new boots.

He is something of an amateur scientist. He describes himself as "educated" and knows "something about rock". He has constructed a few odd devices, including a donkey carriage and a bubble-blowing machine.

Bani Moukerjee

An elephant keeper from India, who works for Charlie Banger's Circus. He is in charge of the elephants Alice, George, Margaret and Clarence, who all obey him without question.

Idris the Dragon

A small, red heraldic dragon who also sang in the choir for a time. He lived with his wife Olwen, and their twins Gaian and Blodwyn in the extinct volcano, Smoke Hill, and was hatched from an egg in Ivor's fire. As well as singing, he once proved useful by cooking fish and chips for the choir using his fiery breath.

Unfortunately, he ran into trouble when Smoke Hill went cold - he needed to be kept hot in order to survive. The gas board provided a temporary furnace, but when that became too expensive (and decimalisation rendered the slot machine inoperable), the only other option for the dragons was a heated cage. Luckily, Mr Dinwiddy was able to provide a solution, and they now live in a geothermally-heated cave under the ground.

Alice the Elephant

A circus elephant with Charlie Banger's Circus. She is normally placid, but does not like taking medicine. When Ivor met her, she had escaped and was asleep on the track. Since then they have become friends. She and her elephant friends were able to help Ivor when he got stuck in the snow.

Bluebell the Donkey

A donkey who lives at Mrs Porty's house. She cannot talk, but she and Ivor just enjoy sitting around together. As the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited has only one locomotive (apart from the short service of Juggernaut), Bluebell is sometimes called upon to provide motive power. Examples include the towing by chain of the broken down locomotive Juggernaut and also the pulling of Mrs Porty's donkey cart when this was temporarily set on the railway tracks to pursue 'robbers' when Ivor had been 'stolen' in the episode The Lost Engine; in this latter case, like a locomotive, Bluebell strictly observed the railway signals, halting the chase until Owen the Signal had raised the signal arm.

Morgan the Roundabout

Mr Morgan is the fairground owner. He gave Ivor some pipes from the steam organ on his roundabout, so that Ivor could sing in the choir. He only appeared in the very first black and white series.


Juggernaut was a diesel railway engine made out of bits and bots, resembling a road lorry on flanged wheels. Juggernaut fell into the lake soon after starting service, nearly killing Idris.







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Genre Children's television
Created by Oliver Postgate
Voices of Oliver Postgate
Narrated by Oliver Postgate
Counrty of origin Unitaed Kingdom
No. of episodes 32 (1959 b/w)
40 (1975-1977 colour)
Running Time) 10 minutes per episode (b/w)
5 mins per episode (colour)
Original Run 1959
1975 1977
Language English


The Colour Episodes

  • The Railway
  • The Egg
  • The Proper Container
  • The Alarm
  • The Retreat
  • The Hat
  • Old Nell
  • Mr Brangwyn's Pigeons
  • The Visitor
  • The Invalid
  • The Boot
  • Banger's Circus
  • Unidentified Objects
  • Mrs Porty's Foxes
  • Bluebell
  • Dai and the Donkey
  • Gold
  • Mrs Porty
  • Cold
  • The Endowment
  • Snowdrifts
  • Cold Sheep
  • The Fire Engine
  • Sledging
  • The Rescue
  • The Water Tower
  • Mrs Bird
  • The Cuckoo-clock
  • The Trumpet
  • Time Off
  • The Seaside
  • The Lost Engine
  • The Outing
  • Half-Crowns
  • Sheep Herding
  • Juggernaut
  • The Bird House
  • Chickens
  • St. George
  • Retirement