Thomas the Tank Engine Wiki

Clarence Reginald Dalby, known as C. Reginald Dalby, was a British illustrator and author best known for being the third illustrator of The Railway Series.


After winning a scholarship to the Leicester College of Art in 1917 and attending for several years, Dalby worked for five years producing designs for packaging, including the original Glacier Mints Polar Bear on the side of a delivery van.

During the Second World War, Dalby served in the Royal Air Force and worked for MI9, devising methods of "Escape and Evasion" for crews bailing out over enemy lines. Afterwards, he was offered a job at an intelligence post with Earl Mountbatten in India, but declined and tried to re-establish himself as an artist. He found few openings for that line of work and had to take up a job for the Blood Transfusion Service in Sheffield, but he returned to artistry within six months, looking for freelance work.

Edmund Ward heard of his Dalby's work and met him in Leicester Royal Hotel, where he gave him sketches for James the Red Engine and asked him to finish them. Dalby did, and illustrated the series up to Percy the Small Engine in 1956, despite the Reverend W. Awdry's dislike of his illustrations. Awdry famously remarked that engines were all the same to Dalby and that he preferred to draw the engines without getting inspiration from real life engines. 

As the illustrations for the Railway Series only took him six weeks on average, he had ample time for his own work and other work commissioned. He managed to publish his own book, inspired by the ferries at Poole Harbour, Dorset, called "Tales of Flitterwick Harbour".

Dalby drew several pictures which caught readers' attention with their bright colours, but his indifference to railway engineering often resulted in letters from confused readers. Eventually, after Awdry described Percy in Percy the Small Engine as "a green caterpillar with red stripes", Dalby took offence and refused to illustrate any more Railway Series titles. He was subsequently replaced with John T. Kenney. The final story he illustrated was "Percy's Promise" although it is unclear which one he finished last since artists often illustrate books at random.

After he retired at 65, Dalby spent three years painting in Spain and traveling. He spent his later years in Oadby, Leicestershire and died on 3 April 1983 after a short illness, aged 79.

Books Illustrated

  1. The Three Railway Engines (redrawn William Middleton illustrations in 1949[1])
  2. Thomas the Tank Engine (modified Reginald Payne several illustrations in 1950[2])
  3. James the Red Engine (1948)
  4. Tank Engine Thomas Again (1949)
  5. Troublesome Engines (1950)
  6. Henry the Green Engine (1951)
  7. Toby the Tram Engine (1952)
  8. Gordon the Big Engine (1953)
  9. Edward the Blue Engine (1954)
  10. Four Little Engines (1955)
  11. Percy the Small Engine (1956)




See Also

External Link