Thomas is a blue tank engine. He came to Sodor in May 1913 as a station pilot at Vicarstown until 1946, at which time he was transferred to Wellsworth following an incident with some trucks. Later that year, after rescuing James after his crash, he was given charge of the Knapford-Ffarquhar branchline and 2 coaches whom he named Annie and Clarabel. Aside from his faithful coaches Annie, Clarabel, and Old Slow Coach, Thomas also has a set of 8 green trucks for goods. He speaks with an strong East End Cockney accent as Thomas is going to get a new voice. John Hasler and Joseph May later take over these roles in The Adventure Begins.
Thomas was built in 1913. He is one of 11 E2 Tank Engines to be built, but must be one of the last 6 since he has extended tanks. He was acquired by the North Western Railway in 1915 to help construction of the North Western Railway along with Edward. Modifications to Thomas were made at the Skarloey Railway's Terminus, Crovan's Gate. His dip at the back of the footplate was removed but the front dip remained. He also gained a splasher at the front of his tank, and was also given a wider cab. His safety valve was modded and whistle moved back up to his cab roof. After he built the North Western Railway, he became the Station pilot for Tidmouth.
After Thomas acted cheeky to Gordon one day in 1922, Gordon decided to pay him out by pulling him away before he had been uncoupled from his coaches. Thomas was pulled across Sodor at high speed and afterwards resolved to never tease Gordon again, but this brief excursion beyond his boundaries seemed to give him a desire to see more of the world and be part of it.
In 1923, Thomas was given charge of Henry's morning train after he fell ill, but forgot to be coupled and only stopped when a signalman told him that he had no train. Thomas' real first chance at pulling a train came when Edward offered to shunt coaches while Thomas took a goods train for him to Wellsworth, but the trucks got up to their tricks and pushed him down Gordon's Hill; Thomas narrowly avoided a collision with the buffers.
After this incident, Thomas was permanently transferred to Wellsworth to learn the ways of the goods yards. After James came rushing through one day and crashed into a field, Thomas came to his aid and The Fat Controller, satisfied with Thomas' work, gave him charge of a branchline.
In 1931, Thomas had his famous race with Bertie on his newline, as well as getting stuck in the snow; leaving his guard behind; and getting fish inside his water tanks.
In 1950, Thomas had a brush with the law after he was booked for traveling from Anopha Quarry without cowcatchers or sideplates. The matter was resolved when Toby came to Sodor to help on the branchline.
In 1952, Thomas teased Gordon relentlessly about his incident with the ditch. He later went to an abandoned lead mine for some trucks and foolishly ignored a danger sign, causing him to fall into a mine tunnel. Gordon pulled him out, and the 2 formed an alliance.
As Thomas was busy in 1956, he asked Percy to take the children home from Sunday School.
In 1957, Thomas warned Percy not to stray past the board at the harbour, citing his experience falling down the mine as a warning.
Thomas later attended a meeting with the other engines, learning he and the others were going to England. While teaching his temporary replacement, Toby, how to run his branchline, he boasted about his famous race and crashed into some buffers, denting his front end badly. He was repaired in time, and breathlessly arrived at Knapford just before the others left for England.
It is revealed Thomas takes a special coach from the express every afternoon for passengers traveling on his branchline in 1959.
In 1960, Thomas had a collision with the Ffarquhar stationmaster's house and was sent to be repaired and rebuilt. One of the major differences in Thomas' body upon his return was his valence, which was now flat, like James and Edward, instead of curving down, as it previously did. This build gave him larger tanks, a deeper coal bunker, and a straight footplate as opposed to his sloped one.
Thomas was withdrawn in September 1962.
In 1983, Thomas helps the police when he sees the thieves, who stole some valuables from the Stationmaster. Also, after being cheeky to Gordon, Thomas was given the task of pulling the Express along with Duck and Percy while Gordon and Henry were ill.
In 1985, Thomas and Percy began a quarrel after Thomas became covered in coal dust, which became more serious as time went on. Finally, Thomas apologized after Percy helped him after he punctured his water tank and the 2 became friends again.
In 1988, Thomas was sent to Edward's branchline whilst the bridges on his own line were under repair.
In 1990, Thomas was invited to a railway show in York. The trip was shaky, with Thomas colliding with a crossing gate and later being booked for parking after the lorry he was traveling on parked illegally. Matters were compounded after Thomas frightened a small child while stopping for a bag carelessly thrown onto the line, but Thomas made up for his misdemeanors by saving Green Arrow from a dip in a river, and was rewarded by being made an honorary member of the National Railway Museum and was given a commemorative plaque. For some reason, Thomas does not bear this plaque anywhere visible on his body.
Thomas arrives home from York in the last story, and is greeted with a celebration.
In 1993, Thomas befriends Wilbert upon his arriving on the branchline.
In 1995, Thomas derails after running over track weakened by rabbit burrows.
In 1998, Thomas spotted an old coach called Victoria who was run down and unused, and suggested that she be mended to help Toby. After an overhaul at the Works, she became part of "Toby's Vintage Train".
Thomas is rather cheeky, but good at heart and generally behaves well, except when he is getting into mishap. Thomas loves teasing the others and on occasion brags about his superiority, but is always brought down to earth in due course. If Thomas has one major character flaw, it's that he's forgetful, and slightly impatient. However, he's also optimistic and idealistic.
Although their friendship has been turbulent at times, Percy is Thomas' best friend.
Thomas is friends with Percy, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Toby, Emily, Molly, Neville, Rosie, Stanley, Hiro, Charlie, Stephen, Luke, Rocky, Danni, Annie and Clarabel and enemies with Spencer, Diesel and Diesel 10.
Thomas is based on the Billington E2-Class 0-6-0T locomotives - only one of his kind left - with large rectangular extended side tanks to carry water, on each side of his boiler, built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway between 1913 and 1916 and approx. 30 ft 1 in long. He is apparently one of the last batch built as only these engines featured his distinctive extended side tanks, projecting forward over the leading wheels and little down sweeps at each end of footplate. The E2s were introduced in 1915 to replace earlier members of the E1 class, which had been scrapped. The last 5 in the 10 strong class had extended side tanks to give a greater water capacity, but all engines had 2 inside cylinders and driving wheels 4'6" in diameter. He also has the maximum speed of 30 mph.
Thomas's running-plate was allegedly a source of some contention to the Reverend W. Awdry during the course of the Railway Series. As originally drawn, it had a distinctive dip at the front, but none at the back. The story goes that, to Awdry's eyes, this meant that Thomas' buffers would be at different levels, an operational inaccuracy and impossibility. This seems curious on Awdry's part, as all the artists had drawn Thomas as having an extra-deep rear buffer beam to compensate, thus putting the front and rear buffers at the same level.
Be it a matter of taste or inaccuracy, the issue of the running plate had to be settled: thus Thomas' excursion into the Stationmaster's house at Ffarquhar was arranged. After his repairs at Crovan's Gate, Thomas returned with a new running plate that was flat and level from smoke box to bunker. Since his 1980 rebuild, he has dipped running plates at both front and rear.
The E2's on which Thomas was based had dipped running plates at both front and rear, and the Hornby Thomas model displays these features, having been retooled from a set of moulds formerly used by Hornby to make E2 models. His television counterpart however, retains the unique forward dipped running plate.
Thomas is painted in the NWR's standard blue livery with red stripes on his boiler, red lining on the side of his tank splashers and the number "1" painted on his tank sides and each side of his boiler in yellow with a red border. Thomas also has red lining on the back of his bunker. Thomas is also an honorary member of the National Railway Museum in York, and he wears the commemorative plaque he was given in front of his funnel, which reads "National Railway Museum Honourary Member". He also wears the special memorial plaque in his cab, which reads "In Memory of Rev. W. Awdry".
Before arriving on Sodor, Thomas was painted in the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway's brown livery with yellow lining and the number "105" on his bunker side.
Thomas' Railway Series appearances are listed below:
- "Thomas the Tank Engine"
- "James the Red Engine"
- "Tank Engine Thomas Again"
- "Troublesome Engines"
- "Henry the Green Engine"
- "Toby the Tram Engine"
- "Gordon the Big Engine"
- "Edward the Blue Engine"
- "Percy the Small Engine"
- "The Eight Famous Engines"
- "Duck and the Diesel Engine"
- "The Twin Engines"
- "Branch Line Engines"
- "Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine"
- "Main Line Engines"
- "Tramway Engines"
- "Really Useful Engines"
- "More About Thomas the Tank Engine"
- "Thomas and the Twins"
- "Thomas and the Great Railway Show"
- "Thomas Comes Home"
- "Wilbert the Forest Engine"
- "Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines"
- "Thomas and Victoria"
Thomas has also appeared in every series of the television series and all related specials. He also appeared as a guest in a 1996 video called "Kids for Character". He recently made an appearance in a special "Children in Need" Music Video.
Too much Thomas?Edit
While he may seem innocent enough, poor Thomas created a fair bit of trouble for Christopher Awdry and Egmont Books, publishers of the Railway Series, when the latter started asking for more books about the happy little tank engine. Granted, Thomas was the most popular character in the original Railway Series books, but Egmont went too far and thus the problem continues. With the advent of the television series, Egmont started asking for more Thomas and to this day Thomas has 8 Railway Series volumes under his undercarriage. 2 of the titles actually have very little to do with Thomas - Thomas Comes Home dealt with the adventures of the branch line engines during Thomas' visit to York, while Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines actually only featured 1 story about Thomas, although he did appear in 2 of the other 3 stories. As a result of Thomas' fame, classic characters like Oliver and Bear have become largely neglected.
NER Thomas and the toddlerEdit
When the Reverend W. Awdry created Thomas, he existed only as a wooden toy made for his son Christopher. This engine looked rather different from the character in the books and television series, and was based on a LNER J50 or a Hudswell Clarke with smaller side tanks and splashers. He was painted blue with yellow lining, and carried the letters "NW" on its side-tanks. Awdry claimed that this stood for "No Where", but later works would identify the railway Thomas and his friends worked on as the North Western Railway.
Oh, the PayneEdit
For the illustrations of Thomas the Tank Engine Edmund Ward, then-publisher of the Railway Series, hired illustrator Reginald Payne, who decided to base Thomas on the LB&SCR E2 Class.. Unfortunately, Payne did not receive any credit for his work; it is only since the publication of Brian Sibley's The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that he has started to receive recognition.
Thomas on the big screenEdit
In 2000, Thomas made it to cinemas in the box-office flop Thomas and the Magic Railroad, in which he was voiced by Edward Glen. He was the only engine from the television series to play a major role in the story, and even left Sodor briefly.
Despite the film's over-all failure, Thomas kept on puffing and later featured in straight-to-video features Calling All Engines, The Great Discovery, Hero of the Rails, and Misty Island Rescue. And, 11 years since Thomas and the Magic Railroad's release, Thomas will grace the big screen once again in 2011.
The Nene Valley Railway at Peterborough, England, was the first railway in the world to possess a full-scale replica "Thomas", an industrial tank engine built by Hudswell Clarke so nicknamed for its blue livery and resemblance to the famous tank engine. In 1971 the name was made official by the Reverend W. Awdry. Other tank engines the world over have since been dressed up as Thomas. Some railways have even gone so far as to rebuild locomotives to produce a better replica. Unfortunately this has created a divide between preservationists: some claim it disfigures historic locomotives and trivializes the preservation movement, others say it attracts visitors and can potentially spark an interest in railways amongst young children.
A "Real Thomas" was used in a special play staged to celebrate the 80th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, starring beloved characters from children's literature. In the play, Thomas was used to convey Sophie Dahl, the late daughter of author Roald Dahl, to center stage, and was greeted by thunderous applause and cheers from the audience of 2000 children and their parents.
Another "Real Thomas" is used during "A Day Out With Thomas" events where people actual ride in his passenger coaches and get their pictures taken with Sir Topham Hatt. Additional attractions include petting zoos, pony rides, story telling, viewing of "Thomas and Friends" videos and temporary tattoos.
There are stage performances called "Thomas and Friends Live", where people get to see Thomas and his friends perform on stage. Two different plays have been made - "Thomas Saves the Day" and "A Circus Comes to Town".
Thomas has also been known to be seen in amusement parks. In America, Thomas is usually found in "6 Flags" parks. In Drusilla's Zoo Park near Alfriston, Sussex, England, a special attraction was opened where Thomas carried passengers through the zoo; it also featured James, Diesel, Cranky and the Fat Controller. At the United Kingdom's Drayton Manor Theme Park, a special place called "Thomas Land" is dedicated to fans to ride on multiple rides based on Thomas and Friends. The model of Thomas used in the TV Series is on display here in the "Discover Thomas and Friends" exhibition.
- John Bellis (UK/US; Thomas and the Magic Railroad; cut only)
- Edward Glen (UK/US; Thomas and the Magic Railroad only)
- Ben Small (UK; Hero of the Rails - Season 18)
- Martin Sherman (US; Hero of the Rails - S18)
- John Hasler (UK; The Adventure Begins onwards)
- Joseph May (US; The Adventure Begins onwards)
- Thomas was the only engine to be illustrated with a number from the very beginning in the Railway Series.
- 3 Thomas models are currently on display: 1 at Drayton Manor in the UK, 1 in Canada at Nitrogen Studios, and the large scale Thomas model used in the spinoff series, The Pack, in Japan at Thomas Land.
- Thomas appeared in the Children in Need charity single. He was voiced by Ringo Starr.
- Awdry's original Thomas model was lost by Christopher when he was in the US.
- Marie is Thomas' mom, Stepney is Thomas' uncle, Robert, Lawson, Jerry are Thomas' brothers, Mitch and Leo are Thomas' cousins and Lacey, Tracy and Zelda are Thomas' sisters. Rosie is Thomas' wife.
- Thomas's whistle sounds like 2 high pitched blasts.