Edward is a mixed-traffic engine.
Edward was built by Sharp Stewart and Company in Manchester, England in 1896 and worked on the Furness Railway before coming to Sodor in 1915 to finish the building of the North Western Railway. After his work was completed, Edward was kept in a shed, to the delight of the other engines, who claimed that he was too weak to work. Edward was eventually let out again, and proved that what he lacked in strength he made up for in work ethic.
Edward is kind-hearted and always keen to help a friend in need. The small engines trust him to lend a listening ear and sympathetic advice. He is a hard worker too, and always does his best to finish a job.
Sadly, the big engines often see Edward as old-fashioned and slow. While it is true he is the oldest engine on the North Western Railway - it must be noted he helped build it - he has proved time and time again that he is more than capable of working as hard as any engine, but he is a more clever and wiser engine, too.
Since the sixth season, Edward's persona differs slightly. Despite his reputation of being kind and friendly, Edward has sometime seemed to act cheeky. Edward has also acted with a lack of confidence in himself in that he keeps secrets from the other engines and the Fat Controller when once he was leaking steam and likewise when he was told to pull the post train whilst Percy was being repaired. Sometimes, Edward has seemed to share the same personality as James, such as when he decided to show off his special waterwheel and laughed at Thomas when he was wearing a funny funnel.
Unlike most characters, Edward is not directly based upon any particular class of locomotive. The Reverend W. Awdry had stated that Edward is based on a heavily modified Sharp, Stewart and Co. "Larger Seagull", supplied to the Furness Railway in 1896.
Sodor "historian" Martin Clutterbuck notes that Edward bears a close resemblance to a LNER D3/4 "Glen" (NBR Reid Class K) 4-4-0 from the London and North Eastern Railway. At any rate, the Reverend W. Awdry used an engine of this class to represent Edward on his model railway.
Crovan's Gate modifications to be seen are making the rear splasher flush with the cab, new cab windows as opposed to cutaway, and new cab lookouts as opposed to the round originals.
The inspiration for Edward himself came from the Reverend W. Awdry's watching trains on the Great Western Railway as a child. He said in an interview with Brian Sibley for The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that, to him, the noise of the locomotives' exhaust almost sounded like dialogue - for example, the larger engine having trouble climbing the hills would appear to be saying, "I can't do it, I can't do it," and the smaller engine helping them would sound like it were saying, "I will do it! I will do it! I will do it!" Later, Reverend Awdry told his son a bedtime story about an engine who was sad because he was never taken out of the shed for being old. Upon being asked what the engine's name was by his son, the Reverend Awdry picked the name Edward out of thin air.
Edward is painted NWR blue with the NWR red and yellow lining and the number "2" painted on his tender sides in bright yellow with a red border. In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
It can be assumed that, before arriving on Sodor, Edward was painted in the Furness Railway's red livery with the letters "FR" written in yellow on his tender sides and black wheels.