The Origins of Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Train originally started out as a children’s book, like many modern day children’s shows.  Thomas the Train is based on The Railway Series by Reverend Wilbur Awdry and his son, Christopher Awdry.  Wilbur Awdry began to tell stories to his son to entertain him when his son had measles.  The Railway Series was the resulting book of his stories.  This book has since became an inspiration to many, and has helped many people through their difficult times just like it helped Christopher when he was young.

Wilbur drew his inspiration from the trains of the Great Western Railway.  At night he would lay awake and hear the sounds of the banking engines helping a freight train up the steep hill.  He imagined the trains were having a conversation and talking with one another, encouraging each other up the hill.  He imagined the freight train saying, “I think I can, I know I can,” while climbing the hill.  The conversation continued, with the two trains encouraging each other up the hill.

The book was later turned into a show which closely followed the book’s storyline, at least at first.  The show details the adventures of Thomas and his anthropomorphized train friends who live on the fictional island of Sodor. Ringo Starr actually helped to narrate the show from 1984-1986. Research reveals that he at first was reluctant to take the part, because he had never read any of the books.  However, he later changed his mind and accepted the part.  He, out of all of the narrators, is the one that is most frequently associated with the show.

Although no new TV episodes are currently being produced, Thomas is still a classic show and piece of children’s literature that is not bound to disappear anytime soon.  If you are a long-devoted fan of Thomas, or enjoy watching the reruns, then don’t hesitate to check out our Thomas the Train Toys. We also have Thomas’s friends Gordon, Edward, Henry, James, Percy, Toby, Emily and many more. For more fun and to play games with Thomas and Friends, click here.