The idea for Toby came to the Rev. W Awdry in 1951, during his family's annual summer holiday in Gorleston, Norfolk. Wilbert and Christopher Awdry were wandering around nearby Great Yarmouth when they came upon a depiliated tram engine, became friends with its crew and took some photographs of it. Both father and son were intrigued by what Wilbert would later describe as a "funny little engine with a queer shape". When the holiday was over, Wilbert began looking for ways to incorporate a tram engine into the Railway Series.
Further inspiration came shortly afterwards from another tram engine. The Rev. Teddy Boston arranged for Wilbert to ride the footplate of one of the last surviving Wisbech and Upwell Tramway J70 class tram engines. Wilbert was fascinated by the stories he heard about the tram engines, some of which he later incorporated into a series of articles about remarkable railways.
Wilbert considered authenticity vitally important and had his brother, George Awdry, reasarch into a realistic way to incorporate Toby on Sodor. George researched into details of tramway regulations and came up with the solution of Thomas falling foul of the law on the Quarry Tramroad. Needing an engine that complies with the regulations, he sent for Toby. Wilbert incorporated his and Christopher's first encounter with a tram engine into the story by having the Fat Controller and his family discover Toby while on holiday.
It is of note that Wilbert wanted to go on holiday to Tywyn in 1951, but Margaret Awdry had already booked the holiday to Gorleston. Had Wilbert visited Tywyn that year, it is possible Toby would never have joined the Railway Series.
Behind the Scenes
Wilbert began constructing his Ffarquhar Branch layout in 1955 at Emneth Vicarage. He constructed a model of Toby to go with earlier models he had made of Thomas and Percy. While Toby is based upon the 0-6-0 J70 class, Awdry based his model on the earlier, but very similar, 0-4-0 Y6 class, which was better suited for the four-wheeled motor-bogie he used to power the model. Since the last Y6 tram had been scrapped in 1952, and Wilbert had never seen one, Wilbert created his Toby with the help of old photographs and blueprints supplied by the Eastern Region's Stratford Works. This model, made in card and plywood, would last until 1979 when it went "into preservation".
The Toby model was very popular at the Wisbech Trades Fair, where Wilbert first displayed his layout, due to being based on a local engine. In 1959, the magazine Railway Modeller published detailed instructions by Wilbert for building a model of Toby in a "Railway Modeller Shows You How!" section.
By 1965, a spare Toby was required and this was built from a Keyser kit of the J70. It was powered by a Keyser motor bogie which, after ten years, was not performing as well as it should, so a third Toby was made from a Keyser kit for the body, mounted on a cut down Tri-ang Nellie chassis.
Gauge 1 model
- Colm Feore ( Thomas and the Magic Railroad )
- Ben Small ( UK; Hero of the Rails - Eighteenth Season )
- Rob Rackstraw ( UK; nineteenth season onwards )
- William Hope ( US; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Yasuhiko Kawazu ( Japan; first - eighth seasons )
- Tomohiro Tsuboi ( Japan; ninth season onwards )
- Espen Sandvik ( Norway; Hero of the Rails - seventeenth season )
- Herman López ( Latin America, Hero of the Rails - Ryan and Daisy, excluding Thomas the Babysitter and Toby's New Friend )
- Gustavo Melgarejo ( Latin America; Thomas the Babysitter onwards, excluding Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure and Ryan and Daisy )
- Rolando de Castro ( Latin America; Thomas and the Magic Railroad )
- César Árias ( Latin America; Thomas and the Magic Railroad; TV Version )
- Jürgen Theuns ( The Netherlands )
- Tom Deininger ( Germany; Thomas and the Magic Railroad )
- Volker Hanisch ( Germany; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Franz Josef Steffens ( Germany; Audio Book 4 only )
- Andreas von der Meden ( Germany; Audio Book 7-16 only )
- Mieczysław Morański ( Poland, Hero of the Rails onwards, excluding Marion and the Dinosaurs )
- Jarosław Domin ( Poland; Marion and the Dinosaurs only )
- Albert Cohen ( Israel; Thomas and the Magic Railroad )
- Gadi Levy ( Israel )
- Fadulli Costa ( Brazil; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Miguel Ángel Poison ( Spain )
- Sacha Pilara ( Italy onwards )
- Michel Lasorne ( France and French speaking Canada; eighth-twelfth season )
- Bernard Demory ( France and French speaking Canada; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Petri Hanttu ( Finland; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Hristo Dimitrov ( Bulgarian; Hero of the Rails onwards )
- Vladimir Antonik ( Russia, thirteenth - sixteenth seasons and Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure )
- Denis Bespalyy ( Russia; King of the Railway onwards, except Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure )
- Haris Grigoropoulos ( Greece )
- Um Sang-hyun ( South Korea )