thomas the train age

How Old Is Thomas the Train?

A common question among many children, which more often than not, parents have to answer is how old Thomas the Train is!

In this article we will look at Thomas the Train’s age according to the books and TV shows:

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Creation of Thomas the Train

Many people may recognize Thomas the Train from the television show, many from the books. But Thomas was actually born in 1940, being created by Reverend Wilbert Awdry for his son Christopher. Reverend Awdry made a toy train, based off the LNER class J50, for his son out of a broomstick handle. At first, the stories were just something he dreamed up for his son, but in 1945 they became published children’s stories that boomed in popularity around the world.

Thomas the Train’s age according to the TV shows airing

If you are going off the television show, not the books, Thomas has two main birthdays. In the UK, Thomas first entered the world of children’s television in 1984 with 26 episodes, all narrated by Beatles member Ringo Starr. If you are looking at the US birthdate, Thomas the Train was first aired on PBS in 1989 and was narrated by Alec Baldwin and Pierce Brosnan.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas the Train, the Books

Between the years of 1945 and 1972, Reverend Wilbert Awdry wrote and published 26 books. 16 more were written and published by his son, Christopher Awdry, bringing thus the total number of books in the series up to 42. Thomas has been as successful on the screen as he has been off the TV set. To date, there have been a whopping 551 episodes starring Thomas and his friends, making it one of the most successful children’s television shows in history.

Thomas the Train, the TV Show

Thomas has been one of the most influential and popular children’s television shows for the past 50 years. Making its way to every corner of the globe, Thomas the Train has managed to bring children, and adults, endless joy. It is such a shame that Reverend Wilbert Awdry never got to see just how much reach his stories had in today’s world.

The Legacy Continues

Reverend Awdry died of a heart attack on the 21st of March 1997. Although he didn’t live to see Thomas become as much of a global sensation as he is today, he did manage to see him come to life on the television for over 10 years before he sadly passed away. His son Christopher is still alive today and has actually authored many of his own Thomas the Train stories continuing his father’s legacy.

So how old is Thomas the Train?

If you want to go off his very original age (as a toy creation for Christopher Awdry), Reverend Wilbert’s Thomas is 80 years old. If you are instead going off of Thomas’s first publication, he would be 75 years old. If you instead want to go off his first TV appearance, he is 36 years old. If that isn’t enough and you are instead looking for the first American TV appearance he is 31 years old.

No matter which age you choose to go by, Thomas the Train is a children’s icon of such popularity and fame that few other children’s characters could hold a candle to.

Thomas vs Edward Controversy 

While this article tries to establish the age of “Thomas the Train” as it is generally referred to by children and parents worldwide, it has generated good constructive counterarguments.

A user had this to add on a social media group: “Thomas and Edward have always been separate characters… Thomas is an 0-6-0 – that means he has six driving wheels. Edward is a 4-4-0 tender engine – that means he has four small wheels in front, four driving wheels and has a tender which holds the coal and water.”

With regards to referring to Thomas as ‘Thomas The Train’, the same user had this to say: “…the correct nomenclature is ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ – he is a locomotive or an engine, not a train. A train is made up of a locomotive and carriages or wagons.”

Another point of contention was, obviously, the age: “You’ll also find that although the toy the Rev. made for Christopher was based on a Great Northern Railway J50, Thomas is in actual fact based on a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E2, and has been stated as such by the Rev. As such in 2020 this would make him 105 years old.”

Here’s more cool stuff about trains! 

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