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With the help of Britt Allcroft, the producer who created the Thomas the Tank Engine television, film, and licensing franchise, we take a look inside Thomas the Tank Engine -- his fascinating history, his cross-continental television series, and his cast of characters, all as we find out what's in store for the future.
But let's go back to the beginning and uncover the origins of the world's favorite little engine.
Awdry decided it was time to commit the stories to print after Christopher kept correcting his father during his frequent retellings. The Reverand Awdry continued to write a new book nearly every year until he retired in 1972. The younger Awdry wrote an additional 40 stories and was instrumental in bringing the popular series to the small screen. If you're planning to visit Japan this summer, you might want to check out the Oigawa Railway in Shizuoka Prefecture, as the railway line has dressed up one of its steam engines as Thomas the Tank Engine, and will be offering rides on the train as a special attraction.
For 60 years, Thomas and his friends have been delighting children and adults alike with stories of exploration and imagination. Awdry amused his son with original stories and rhymes during the long days of his recovery. Awdry wrote another story featuring Edward that also introduced Gordon, a proud and boastful engine who eventually got his comeuppance. Awdry drew simple companion illustrations as well -- pictures of the engines with human faces on them -- each with a different expression.

After many rejection letters, he finally found a publisher willing to take the stories to print. Christmas 1942 saw the birth of the character that would become the favorite locomotive of many children and adults.
Awdry always felt it was important to model his fictional stories and characters around real-life trains and events as much as possible. An obscure 0-6-0T Class E2 shunting engine built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway was the model for Thomas. His son Christopher -- now grown and with a son of his own -- took up the writing of the series soon after. Like his father before him, Christopher was also quite adamant that his stories be set in real time and based in real-life events. He and his railway friends have been working the railways on the Island of Sodor for more than 60 years. In fact, at the time the television series began, there had only been two books named after Thomas specifically. Stack them on top of solid color lunch plates at each place setting for a fantastic display. Awdry said, as quoted on the official Awdry Family Website, "I, along with my brother George, inherited our father's love of railways, and after moving to Box, Wiltshire, in 1917, our house was within sight and sound of the Great Western Railway's main line near Middle Hill.

Percy was pattered after an old Avonside locomotive, and the Scottish Twins, Donald and Douglas, are based on members of the 812 Caledonian class of 1899.
He wrote three short stories (this time about Thomas, Percy, and Duck) and then brought them all together in a final story.
Rather, the Awdrys treated the characters in the books as an ensemble and wrote about many different characters, some recurring and others appearing only in one or two stories. Your guests will be so impressed with all of your coordinating Thomas the Tank tableware, especially these Thomas the Tank Birthday Dessert Plates.
Sir Topham Hatt), offers to an engine -- and though he sometimes gets into trouble, he always comes out on top. Encouragement from fans and pressure from publishers and producers eager to capitalize on the tank engine's fame convinced the Awdrys to focus the spotlight on Thomas.

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