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Green plaque for Thomas the Tank Engine book illustrator

Credit: Picture from Mattel and HiT Entertainment

An artist who created some of the illustrations for the Thomas the Tank Engine books is to be honoured with a green plaque in his Leicestershire hometown today.

John T Kenney lived in Kibworth Beauchamp between 1949 and 1958.

He illustrated six books in the Rev W Awdry's Railway Series - better known as the Thomas the Tank Engine books.

The former Leicester College student illustrated a total of 31 titles between 1954 and 1972, most focusing on historical figures of importance.

Leicestershire County Council will unveil a green plaque at the site of his former home today. His art became known across the world, thanks to his work with the Loughborough-based publisher Ladybird Books.

John T Kenney painting. Credit: The Kenney family

Mr Kenney died at Smeeton Westerby in 1972 at the age of 61.

"I am delighted that John Kenney is to be recognised and honoured by the village he made his home.

There are many people in Kibworth who remember John and Peggy, and countless millions around the world of all ages who have enjoyed his illustrations.

John Kenney and Clarence Reginald Dalby, the two artists who created Thomas the Tank Engine, as we know him today, were both graduates of the Leicester School of Art.

They both served their country during WWII, and they had strong associations with Kibworth.

John lived in Kibworth and Clarence created the polar bear logo for Fox's Glacier Mints - the Fox family lived in Kibworth. Every community has its special people. It's just lovely that we in Kibworth have John Kenney who entranced generations of young readers with his illustrations."

– Stephen Butt, who nominated Mr Kenney for the award
Image of a Thomas the Tank Engine model Credit: PA Images
31
books he illustrated between 1954 and 1972

"Generations of children grew up with the Thomas the Tank Engine and Ladybird books and their beautiful illustrations are instantly recognised around the world.

John Kenney was an extremely popular choice among the people of Leicestershire to receive a green plaque and I will be delighted to be involved in its unveiling."

– Pam Posnett, County Council chairman