The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways is a book written by the Rev. W. Awdry and his brother George Awdry and illustrated by Clive Spong. It was first published in 1987 as a hardcover book and was reprinted in 1992 as a spiral-bound book with a map of Sodor.
This is a book about Sodor, taking a scholarly approach to its history, geography and industry, which couldn't be discussed in the children's literary confines of the Railway Series. Most background information on the locations, people, railways, and engines in the Railway Series comes from this book.
The book was the fruit of Awdry's desire to create a credible and consistent world for his stories. He began this project by creating maps of Sodor, which he then expanded upon. Awdry and his brother George, who was the librarian of the National Liberal Club, worked out the details of Sodor, producing between them a comprehensive set of notes. These notes were compiled and published in this book.
- There have been three Sir Topham Hatts: Sir Topham Hatt I, Sir Charles Topham Hatt and Stephen Topham Hatt.
- No. 5 of the Culdee Fell Railway's name is revealed to be Shane Dooiney.
- This book marks the second mention of the Coffee Pots. They were withdrawn shortly after Toby joined Thomas' Branch Line and were scrapped.
- The North Western Railway has at least eighty engines, the majority of which are never documented in the Railway Series.
- The other engines from the S&MR are mentioned for the first time.
- Some of Sodor's kings are named.
- Jock is revealed for the first time, prior to his first official appearance in Jock the New Engine.
- Sigrid of Arlesdale, the Blisters and Mark V are also revealed, although unlike Jock they would not appear in future books.
- It is said that the Skarloey Railway Slate Quarry is now used as the Ministry of Defence Ammunition dump which is located there after closure. The Ministry also owns a black "Beetle-Like" engine which runs it.
- Stanley's name is revealed (he was referred to as No. 2 in the book Duke the Lost Engine) and he was said to have been transferred to the Cas-ny-Hawin mine while he was still a pumping engine, where he broke down in 1946 and caused the Mid Sodor Railway to close.
- While the tragic story of Godred was said to be made up in Mountain Engines, it is revealed that he did indeed exist within the Sodor universe and was eventually scrapped following his accident when he was too badly damaged to be repaired.
Despite its popularity with Thomas fans, The Island of Sodor has been out of print since 1992, making copies fairly expensive: some are available on Amazon for a minimum of $500 US. However, some information from this book was reprinted in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines.
There have been several letters to Heinemann, the original publishers, asking if the book could be republished. These have been unsuccessful.