The Roundhouse Podcast

‘Thomas’ and Rail Preservation


Sodor Island Forums admin Ryan Hagan poses with Thomas the Tank Engine at the premiere of ‘Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure’. Photo provided by Ryan Hagan.

Thomas the Tank Engine & Rail Preservation

Thomas the Tank Engine is beloved by millions of children around the world, but we tend to think of it solely as a ‘kid’s show’.  Today, we talk with Ryan Hagan, administrator for the Sodor Island Forums, about how The Railway Series was based in actual British railway history, how it has helped rail preservation, and why it still matters today.

Sodor Island Fansite

Sodor Island Blog

Related Episodes:

Linn W. Moedinger – President of the Strasburg Rail Road

Steam Locos in Profile – Chris Eden-Green

Question of the Day

Did you grow up with Thomas?  How do you look back on it now?  Let me know and I will respond to your comments in our next episode.

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13 thoughts on “‘Thomas’ and Rail Preservation

  1. Chris Eden-Green

    Did I grow up with Thomas?

    In many ways, not all I’m willing to admit, yes.
    I was vaguely aware of steam engines before being sat down infront of the ‘Troublesome Trucks’ VHS at a very young age. But after that, my interest in railways became further set in stone. I read and collected all the RWS books and watched the TV show up until I began to move onto looking at real railways.
    There came that inevitable phase where I was too old for him, so throughout my school years he was left by the wayside. But once I was introduced to the Sodor Island Forums in 2005, life changed once again. They say “what goes around, comes around”. And without that change, I wouldn’t be making films today.

    I have a real love/hate relationship with Thomas nowadays, brought on partly with age, partly with how the TV show has been through some dark times in recent years, and partly by peer pressure from fans who just want me to review a class of engine that no longer exists.
    But whatever happens, the impact that Thomas left on my life over the years is unlikely to go away.

  2. Luke

    I grew up with Thomas as a kid i had two big tubs of the wooden toy trains, that someday i will pass down 2 my kids. I think it influence my present day love of trains.

  3. Sebastian Berthelsen

    yes indeed i did grow up with thomas!
    although my story is a little different, only by what my home country is. For instance my childhood narrator wasn’t Carlin and nor was it Ringo stat, but Poul dissing. To this day he still keeps the title and is still going strong with the show.

    Though thomas gave hours of happiness i was sadly also one of the first to be pick out, when i transferred from special class to normal due to my reading skills. Over the years i gathered more interest for the little blue tank engine and i also learned some english that way.

    Today i actually prefer watching the english version and due to my huge interest in railways, i’ve come to the point where i want to share my knowledge, and have now tried to do that with a railway series about danish railway history in 3 years now 🙂 (still not with a published book though)

    So yeah i grew up watching the tank engine, and i think i still am. Cause even though i have had some grand grand family being working at the railway in the past, i still doubt that without thomas my interest might not have been that big as it is today 🙂

  4. Stuart Dougherty

    I watched it when I was little I enjoyed it until Thomas and his friends went from Computer Graphic Imaging into a cartoon. I enjoyed with out it. I was sick and tired of hearing people complain of the engines’ mouths moving. I thought it was good. I enjoy the early ones up unto Alec Baldwin.

  5. Ross Patterson

    I have loved Thomas the Tank Engine since I was a little boy. It always made me happy whenever it was on TV or on video. It was always there for me whenever I needed it. If I was ever sad, upset or miserable, my Mum would put on the show and I would cheer up right away. Thomas and Friends gave me the inspiration to learn how to make up stories and characters of my own. Plus it gave me the chance to try out voice acting thanks to the many voices the narrators of the show gave to the characters. I’m happy that the show was always there for me. Thanks to Thomas and his friends, I learnt how to become a good person and be a good friend to everyone.

  6. JF

    Still as much into Thomas as much as when I was a kid. I’m 21 now and thanks to Thomas, I’m now a filmmaker and I’ve made a documentary capturing the last days of a narrow gauge line in the East of England.

  7. Steven Solway

    I worked with stationary steam locomotives on display here at the National Railroad Museum here in Green Bay, WI., from 1984 to 1989, when the director had a falling out with the board, and he was fired. But then the entire working staff was either fired, or quit. Since then the NRRM has fallen into such a deep and dark black hole that there in no way out, because with the very frequent turnover of directors, there is no constant plan, like those of the Original Founders who dreamed of steam locomotive excursions. But in 1986 the Board decided to make a “FAKE” steamer out of a combination of Somter and Choctaw RR. #102, the smallest 2-8-2 Mikado for standard guage track, and using the G.E. 45 tonner center-cab with side rods #3 from the East Troy Electric Ry, but this is a miserable failure that has never run properly, but they still refuse to restore both the steamer and the centercab to their proper conditions. And thye have recently, in 2005, sold 7 diesel engines to other museums, private collectors, and excursions like the 2 BL-2 EMD diesels that used to be stored in Janesville, WI, but now RUN in New York State. But if they has been restored and changeed to a Rock Island Scheme, we could have a “RED ROCKET AREOTRAIN” in time for the Areotrains’ 60th Anniversary next year in 2016. Plus, next year is the NRRMs’ 60th anniversary, where they started with only 1 engine, Milwaukee Road #261, the 4-8-4 Northern that was leased in 1992 by NorthStar Rail in Minneapolis, and gone on to star in excursions all across the USA. What kind of anniversary can we have if even the First Engine Can’t attend.? So we want to restore the BRILLION PIONEER #29 0-4-0 T that ran from 1961 until 1975. It might cost as much as $100,000 for even a small eninge, but will be well worth it. Friday, november20 2015 A.D.

  8. Derek

    Thomas defined my childhood, so it’s safe to say he will always have a special place in my heart. Thomas kick-started my love of trains and my dreams of wanting to work for the railroads.

    I do volunteer work at the Midland Railway in Baldwin City, KS and when he comes to town, I just can’t help but smile when I see the kid’s faces just light up with pure joy when they see him.

  9. Stuart

    Thomas and Friends has just made such a happy and better person. I have always loved Thomas when I was very young. Used to watch videos and had ertl toys and I would play with them and made as if they were real trains. It has also got me into railways which is my biggest interest ever. The CGI series is getting so better but the models are still enjoyable to watch.

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