It is 65 years since the first ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ book appeared, written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, at Rodborough, Stroud, and few people could have guessed what an impact the little blue engine would have globally. The first book (The Three Railway Engines) was published in 1945, and by the time Awdry stopped writing in 1972, there were 26 books in the series. Wilbert Awdry died in Stroud in 1997 and he is remembered at Rodborough Church where ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ is depicted in a stained-glass window.
Christopher Awdry, Wilbert’s son for whom the books were originally written, subsequently added further books to the series, one including an engine named ‘Wilbert the Forest Engine’ which resides at the Dean Forest Railway.
The Rev. Awdry was the one-time president of the Dean Forest Railway and thus it is highly appropriate that the Dean Forest Railway has been selected –, one of only seven railways in the country – to hold a special anniversary party in June during its three-day ‘Day Out With Thomas’ event.
The Anniversary Party will be held on Saturday, June 5th with the normal ‘Day out with Thomas’ events being held on Friday 4th and Sunday 6th June.
In addition to the usual “Thomas” events, the Anniversary Party will include Christopher Awdry signing books, professional storytelling sessions, brakevan rides with Salty at Parkend, exhibitions on the history of the Severn and Wye Railway and Thomas the Tank Engine plus a rededication of ‘Wilbert the Forest Engine’. ‘Bertie the Bus’ will also be running between Norchard and Parkend.
With competitions and free gifts for children, the chance to meet the Fat Controller Sir Topham Hatt and have rides behind a real steam locomotive, Daisy the Diesel and brakevan rides with “Thomas”, this is an event not to be missed. For full details of how to obtain tickets and further information take a look at the railway’s web site at www.dfr.co.uk or telephone 01594 845840.
Date: Saturday 5th June 2010
Time: 0930 onwards – Opening Ceremony at 1000
Location: Dean Forest Railway, Forest Road, Lydney, Glos. GL15 4ET
Entry: Tickets available from £13-50 per adult, £ 8-50 child and £42 Family ticket (online prices). This includes general admission, all the attractions, free draw and three different train rides.