the Tank Engine is fifty years old. The stories were first
created by an Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry,
as a way of entertaining his young son Christopher as he
recovered, in isolation, from scarlet fever. Christopher
demanded that he be told the stories again and again and,
in the way of small children, corrected his father whenever
inconsistencies crept into the retold stories.
In self defense, the Rev. Awdry wrote the first stories
down on available scraps of paper. To add to the story telling,
the Rev. Awdry drew simple pictures of steam locomotives
on the paper along with the stories. A head on view being
the easiest to draw, he drew a row of locomotives standing
in an engine shed with a human face and expression on each
locomotive's smokebox door.
Mrs Awdry believed that these children's stories had some
merit and so pestered her husband to "do something about
them". Through a distant cousin a small publisher, Edmund
Ward, was found who was interested in these railway stories.
The connection was made so suddenly that the Rev. Awdry
had to send the stories as they were written on scraps of
paper as the original manuscript.