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In the English countryside, a young Wilbert listens to the puffing of nearby steam engines and as he imagines their conversations, he doesn’t doubt that these engines have their own unique personalities.
Now a father himself, the storyteller is inspired to “engineer” tales about these steam engines to entertain his own young son when he was in bed with the measles. These original stories were told over and over again until, pressed by Christopher to be more consistent with the details, the Rev.
At Christmas, Awdry built Christopher a model of Thomas and Edward, and some wagons and coaches out of a broomstick and scraps of wood. Upon the persistence of his wife, Margaret, Awdry wrote the first book of “Railway Series,” entitled “The Three Railway Engines.” Within a few months, 45,000 copies were sold.
During a visit to the Isle of Man, Wilbert discovers the official title of the Bishop of the Isle of Man was “Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man.” Rev. Meccano becomes one of the first companies to release a train toy set featuring a clockwork model of Percy (with a likeness to Percy in the books) with some trucks and a circle of blue plastic track.
A chance encounter with an engine driver presented Christopher Awdry an opportunity to continue the series.
Three more tales were created by Christopher Awdry and “Really Useful Engines” was published in the autumn. A very special passenger hops aboard as former Beatles member, Ringo Starr, joins the Thomas the Tank Engines & Friends television series as storyteller for 52 episodes – the first of several famous storytellers to come. Hornby acquires the license for Thomas and produces two electric railway systems and a series of engines, tracks and accessories. Michael Angelis takes over from Ringo Starr as storyteller and narrates 13 series of Thomas for the U.K. Thomas goes off the rails as a Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends theme park, Thomas Land, opens at Fujikyu Highland Theme Park in Japan.

Thomas and the Magic Railroad, the property’s first feature-length film release, rolls into movie theaters worldwide. Another famous voice takes a ride with Thomas when actor Alec Baldwin narrates new Thomas episodes in the United States.
Hero of the Rails debuts as the first feature-length Thomas & Friends home entertainment release in CG animation and to celebrate, celebrity premiere events are held in London for the first time at VUE Cinemas in Leicester Square.
Thomas & Friends celebrates its 65th anniversary around the world with new CG-animated television episodes and a new CG-animated website. New global master toy partner Fisher-Price and new master construction partner Mega roll out new lines of Thomas & Friends toys. The CG-animated feature Day of the Diesels is released spotlighting the classic rivalry between the Diesel engines and the Steam engines on the Island of Sodor. Thomas steams into the record books again as Japan takes back the World Record for the Longest Train Track at Fuji-Q Highland theme park using track from Tomy’s toy railroad Plarail Thomas series. Thomas & Friends wins ‘Best Classic Licensed Property’ at The Licensing Awards in London, UK beating some tough competition including Barbie, Doctor Who and Batman.
A 50 foot long Thomas holding 20,000 cubic feet of helium takes part in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade for the first time ever!
Thomas & Friends celebrates 70 years since the very first book of the series, "The Three Railway Engines" was published on 12th May 1945. Four full-color printed cardboard kits or “pre-cut model engine books” were produced whose pieces could be pressed out, folded and glued together to make realistic models of the engines. The train driver’s tales of an ill-fated train rescue inspired Christopher to duly turn this into a “Thomas” story for his son, Richard. The exhibit engages children and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences.

This Thomas Land attraction is the first in North America and the third in the world, bringing the Island of Sodor to life with 11 themed rides as well as iconic destinations like Knapford Station and Tidmouth Sheds. Awdry wonders whether an island between the Isle of Man and the mainland would be suitable location for his stories. The engines included Thomas, with Annie the Coach, Percy with Clarabel the Coach, Gordon the Big Engine and his Tender and James the Red Engine and his Tender.
Awdry meets television producer, Britt Allcroft at the Bluebell Railway in Sussex during the recording of a short documentary and having read the books, is inspired to bring the stories to television.
Day Out With Thomas offers aspiring young engineers and their families the opportunity to take a ride with a 15-ton replica of their classic storybook friend, Thomas the Tank Engine, and enjoy a day of Thomas and train-themed activities and entertainment. Fisher-Price is the presenting sponsor for the exhibit and 3M is the national tour sponsor. It is recgnized by USA TODAY 10BestTM as a Top 3 Winner for Best New Amusement Park Attraction in 2015. The Thomas name and character and the Thomas & Friends logo are trademarks of the Gullane (Thomas) Limited and its affiliates and are registered in many jurisdictions around the world.
He decided upon the name “Sodor” which lies between the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and Barrow-in-Furness on the British Mainland.

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