Featured Locomotive for August 2011

Thomas the Tank Engine

This month let us talk about the children's favourite 'Thomas the Tank Engine'. We are sure that most parents are more than aware of 'Thomas', so we won't dwell on him and his vast array of friends. How it all began - the Rev. Wilbert Awdry made a wooden engine for his son, Christopher, out of a broom stick handle - Thomas had no side tanks, with only 4 wheels - it was not modelled on any particular locomotive. The lettering on the side was 'NW', which stood for 'Nowhere', for the TV series this was changed to 'North Western Railway' about 1980.

Rev. Awdry's wife had encouraged him to publish the stories and in 1979 Britt Allcroft discovered the books, which were to become a hit worldwide. An illustrator named Reginald Payne needed a picture of a real locomotive so Awdry selected a Billington design 0-6-0 E Class Tank Engine, this proto type being last scrapped in 1950. What interests us is that most children who visit have never seen a steam locomotive or one in action. The level crossing in our region is marked with a yellow sign of a tank locomotive but all the youngsters immediately recognise Thomas and his friends - must be the power of television. The first working models of Thomas, in the TV series, were 1 gauge, just like the Kurremi Garden Railway. Every now and again Thomas and Percy have the opportunity to have a race around the 50 metre loop - side by side - or sometimes opposing - the colouring of the engines is quite fictional.

Technical details of Thomas with the roving eyes are not available.

Weather permitting the next open day is 28th August (Sunday). If it is cold and draughty braziers will be available to warm the fingers. The main Museum will NOT be open on this day.

Thomas the Tank Engine

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