Clarence Reginald Dalby, known as C. Reginald Dalby, (1904 - 1983) 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. (There also a number of artistic errors in his work, such as a consistently poor grasp on perspective.) 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.
Dalby died in 1983 after a short illness, aged 79.
- The Three Railway Engines (redrawn William Middleton illustrations in 1949)
- Thomas the Tank Engine (modified Reginald Payne several illustrations in 1950)
- James the Red Engine (1948)
- Tank Engine Thomas Again (1949)
- Troublesome Engines (1950)
- Henry the Green Engine (1951)
- Toby the Tram Engine (1952)
- Gordon the Big Engine (1953)
- Edward the Blue Engine (1954)
- Four Little Engines (1955)
- Percy the Small Engine (1956)
- He disliked his first name "Clarence" and never used it.
- His name can be seen in several illustrations.
- In the fifth illustration of Tenders and Turntables, there is luggage with reading "CRD". Dalby is the man on the bench with the luggage, while his daughter Kathryn is holding a dog Chloe on a leash.
- In the second illustration of Off the Rails, there is a shop with a sign reading "C.R. DALBY".
- In the illustrations of Bertie's Chase, Bertie's numberplate is "CRD 54" referring to the year of publication. This was also added to Bertie in the twenty-third series of Thomas & Friends.
- In the third illustration of Saved from Scrap, there is a shop with the sign above the canopy reading "C.R.DA.".
- His illustrations included RWS ads, the author's family and the name of the editor.
- In the fourth illustration of Thomas and the Guard, advertisements for James the Red Engine and "All About Thomas the Famous Tank Engine" are visible.
- In the third illustration of Percy Runs Away, the Rev. W. Awdry, his wife Margaret and his children Christopher, Veronica and Hilary can be seen on the platform waving to Percy.
- In the fifth illustration of Coal, advertisements for The Three Railway Engines and James the Red Engine are visible.
- In the third illustration of Percy and the Trousers, an advertisement for Troublesome Engines is visible on the blue double-decker bus.
- In the second illustration of Duck Takes Charge, there is a building with a sign reading "E.T.L.MARRIOTT", referencing the editor Eric Marriott.
- In the first illustration of Domeless Engines, a man with a bow tie and a vicar can be seen looking at Duck. Eric Marriott theorised in The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that the vicar is the Rev. W. Awdry showing Dalby how Duck is supposed to look, as Dalby had drawn him incorrectly in Percy the Small Engine, and was inserted as a joke by John T. Kenney towards his predecessor as an illustrator.
- Awdry described Dalby's Percy in Percy the Small Engine as "a green caterpillar with red stripes", a line which was later referenced by Thomas in Woolly Bear.
- The models during Series 1 to 11 are loosely based on his illustrations.