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Thomas the Tank Engine illustrator honoured


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Mattel/HIT Entertainment

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John T Kenney illustrated six Thomas titles between 1957 and 1962

An artist who illustrated the Thomas the Tank Engine books is to be honoured with a green plaque.

John T Kenney’s work on Rev W Awdry’s The Railway Series – better known as the Thomas the Tank Engine books – became known across the world.

Relative Val Payne said Mr Kenney was an “extremely versatile” artist who would be “thrilled”.

Leicestershire County Council, which has funded the plaque, said he was an “extremely popular choice”.

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Mr Kenney was an “extremely versatile artist”, his relatives said

Mr Kenney trained at the Leicester College of Art before going on to illustrate six Thomas titles between 1957 and 1962.

He also illustrated more than 30 titles for Ladybird books.

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Mr Kenney was responsible for creating a number of the characters still known today

He and his wife Peggy lived in Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire, between 1949 and 1958 and the plaque is being unveiled outside his former home on Thursday.

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The man who nominated Mr Kenney said “countless millions” have enjoyed the artist’s work

“The family are really excited about this,” Mrs Payne said. “It’s just such a shame he never got to see this.”

She said ill health forced Mr Kenney to step down from his role as Thomas illustrator and his death, aged 61 in 1972, meant he never knew how popular the series became.

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The council says Mr Kenney’s work is “instantly recognised” around the world

Stephen Butt, the resident who nominated Mr Kenney for the award, said he was delighted he was being recognised.

“There are many people in Kibworth who remember John and Peggy, and countless millions have enjoyed his illustrations,” he said.

Council chairman Pam Posnett said: “Generations of children grew up with the Thomas the Tank Engine and Ladybird books and their beautiful illustrations are instantly recognised.”

A ‘fussy little engine’

  • Thomas fans know there’s nothing he likes better than a nice coat of paint – but in fact, he and his locomotive friends have had several
  • The series had a number of illustrators including two from Leicestershire – John T Kenney and Clarence Reginald Dalby
  • Both men worked on the early books in the Thomas series and were responsible for creating a number of the characters children know and love today

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PA

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Rev W Awdry with the engine he created

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