The 60th Anniversary Of Thomas

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Sixty years ago, THE THREE RAILWAY ENGINES was published, and sparked a phenomenon.

Here, we've built up a souvenier of 2005, commemorating the events of this exciting year in the Thomas calender.  Sixty years had passed since Wilbert Awdry managed to see The Three Railway Engines published and HIT Entertainment had promised a great deal of exciting and worthwhile projects in the pipeline to keep Thomas fans on their toes for the duration of this year.

THE AWDRYS BATTLE ON
In January of this year, Christopher Awdry held a meeting with DAILY EXPRESS in order to get the message across that ALL the Railway Series books should be put back into print.  The Author's wife Diana urged both Sodor Island Forums and Clearwater Forums to promote the campaign and to sign an upcoming petition which Christopher will have at all the DAYS OUT WITH THOMAS Events he is due to visit this year.  There are also links to the petition online from the Awdry Family Site.
 
The date of the article's publication came, and there was no sign of the interview to be seen.  Several days passed, and the article never appeared.  Neither Mrs Awdry or The Daily Express themselves have not disclosed any details about why the article wasn't published.
 
Christopher and Diana's petitioning is proving to be successful with signatures swelling in number and should hopefully provide Egmont Books and HIT Entertainment with a better idea of the demand that these books really are in!  We can only hope that their efforts are not going to be in vain and that they can indeed persuade the publishers and copyright owners to at last publish the books again, AND hopefully provide us with further titles.

SPECIAL RELEASES FOR THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY
 
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
At the end of this month, the first new Awdry-related Railway Series release for many years will be published.  However, it will come as no surprise to many that Egmont Books will neither be publishing or backing this effort.
 
Christopher Awdry has compiled, from his father's old research, a new book detailing the events on Sodor and their real life happenings.  Sodor: Reading Between The Lines will hopefully be published at the end of May under Christopher and his wife Diana's SODOR ENTERPRISES and put on release from the company website.  This book will not be available from book shops or from Amazon.co.uk, as the projected number of copies to be printed to meet what the Awdrys believe will be the demand will probably not satisfy that of an online retailer such as Amazon.

CALLING ALL ENGINES
In September of this year, the second feature length Thomas release - Calling All Engines - will be released to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of Thomas.
 
Details of the release at present are limited, but what we are aware of this that the characters will not have individual voices and the normal Narration will take place.  Michael Brandon has been confirmed to be providing the US narration, whilst it is very likely that Michael Angelis will be providing for the UK.
 
The adventure will see the engines trying to build a new Airport on the Island of Sodor, and has even merited the return of an old enemy from their last feature length escapade - Diesel 10.  Further details of the film are available in the NEWS page of the site.

THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY
Unfortunately, we weren't privelleged enough here to be invited along to the sold out event at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire on Saturday the 4th of June, but this is due to be where the celebrations for Thomas's 60th Anniversary party take place.
 
Christopher Awdry was invited to the event, but has had to decline due to a prior commitment.  The event will include magicians, jugglers, face painters, live entertaiment from the Fat Controller's Stage Show, storytelling, games, play areas and a Funfair for children to enjoy.  Only one thing missing, a Railway!

60th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
NOT AS FITTING AS YOU MAY HAVE THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE
 
The Hatfield House event was touted as the biggest event in the Thomas Calendar this year, a joyous day out for fans and their families and a true celebration of all things about Thomas and his Friends.
 
But from the point of view of a review I have received by a disgruntled parent, many would beg to differ, and should any other disappointed attendees who wish to file a complaint are reading this, the following contact details have been made available via the e-mail correspondance I received earlier today (4/6/05).
 
I am putting the following up for the benefit of the organisers, and for the sake of people who attended the event themselves only to be disappointed:
I have just returned from hatfield house Thomas 60th anniversary celebrations and wish I'd never been.
As you know the event was tickets only and a sell out.

The email we received gave details of the attractions there - three shows at 11am 1pm and 3pm and lots of other things to see and do (face painters, fairground rides, punch and judy, marquees etc and of coarse Thomas and his friends). Also in bold print was that the program of events would be repeated throughout the day so there would be no rush to get there for 10am when the gates opened.

We set off in good time at 10.30 allowing for the normal 45 minute journey to take a bit longer and to arrive at 11.30ish. 3 hours later we finally struggled in ! There were no accidents holding us up just sheer weight of traffic all trying to get to Hatfield House.

OK so after pacifying a grumpy child by promising her all the fun things she would see oh boy was she disappointed. After struggling to park in a unmarked field full of bumps (not easy to drag a pushchair, child & picnic across) we arrived a a fenced off field containing the event. We were given no map or directions upon entering and in fact no one even asked for our tickets, so left to our own devices we followed the crowds. The queues for everything were at least 1 hour, Thomas turned out to be no more than a cardboard cut-out on the small stage and the show lasted no more than 10 minutes. the nearest we got to Thomas was someone else's helium balloon.

However, I did manage to find an event organiser and get her details so that I can lodge a formal complaint. For your and others interest they are as follows

MICHELLE HANDFORD
HIT ENTERTAINMENT
MAPLE HOUSE 5TH FLOOR
LONDON  WIT 7NF
PHONE 0207 554 2500

My main gripe is if they knew how many tickets were sold, then how come it was so badly organised and there was so little to do.