Gordon was built experimentally by Sir Nigel Gresley at Doncaster Works between 1920 and 1922 as an "A0" Pacific. When Gresley was finished using Gordon for designing his A1 Pacifics, he sold Gordon, along with a spare boiler and firebox, to the North Western Railway.
Gordon is mainly used for passenger duties, pulling the North Western Railway's express, the Wild Nor' Wester, but has occasionally pulled goods trains. 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 was replaced by a two-cylinder chassis (designed by the Fat Controller), he received a smoother running plate, Stanier underframes wheels, cylinders, squared-off side windows, rectangular buffers, and a Fowler tender.
Gordon has become famous after his adventures: In 1953 he pulled Queen Elizabeth II's royal train and in 1956 he traveled 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. Then, in 1986, Gordon got to visit Carlisle when a Diesel taking a Railtour failed.
In 2010, he was dismissed from pulling the express regularly to Barrow due to the purchase of Pip and Emma.
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, owning 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.
- Neil Crone (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
- Kerry Shale (US; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Keith Wickham (UK; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Kenji Utsumi (Japan; first-eighth seasons)
- Kenta Miyake (Japan; Calling All Engines! onwards)
- Øyvind Borgemoen Lyse (Norway; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Norbert Gescher (Germany; Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
- Tetje Mierendorf (Germany)
- Sławomir Pacek (Poland; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Gordon's model is currently on display in Canada at Nitrogen Studios.
- As of the CGI television series, Gordon's catchphrase is "Oh, the indignity!"
- Gordon is named after a rude boy that lived on the Awdry's street when Christopher was a child.
- The official website inaccurately states that Gordon is a "Liner" (LNER) A3 Pacific.
- Since Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Gordon's rear bogie has been joined to his driving wheel chassis.
- "If you were a nice tank engine, you'd be alright!"
- ERTL (normal and Gold Rail; both discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (normal and limited edition A Better View for Gordon)
- Take-Along (normal, metallic, and lights and sounds; discontinued)
- My First Thomas
- Motor Road and Rail (normal and talking; discontinued ouside Asia)
- TrackMaster (normal, talking, RC, and greatest moments)
- My Thomas Story Library (discontinued)
- Bandai Tecs
- Take-n-Play (normal, talking, and pull back)
- De Agostini
- Brio (discontinued)
- Wind-up (normal and metallic)
- Mega Bloks