Plaque unveiled in Kings Norton marking the birthplace of Thomas the Tank Engine stories

ITV News Central Reporter Lee Comley reports on the unveiling of a plaque celebrating the birthplace of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories

The unveiling of the plaque in Kings Norton is a chance for the author's family and locals to celebrate the humble beginnings of Thomas the Tank Engine, and his friends.

Reverend Wilbert Awdry first wrote the stories down in 1942, before they grew to become a global phenomenon, with an estimated value of around £1billion. 

Wilbert Awdry's stories started as a way to cheer up his unwell son.

They created a series of characters that became loved across the world, by generations of children and their parents.

Now, there's a plaque in St Nicolas' Church, where he was a curate during the Second World War, after being inspired by the sounds of the wartime trains at the nearby railway yards - but those here believe his role at the church also played a part.

'I hope people will come...and remind themselves where that wonderful story all began here', Reverend says

Reverend Larry Wright from St Nicolas' Church in Kings Norton told ITV News Central: "The Christian faith is full of stories whether it's the epic stuff in the Old Testament or Jesus' parables in the New Testament."

"The world loves a good story and these are excellent stories."

"I hope people will come and have a look at it come and remind themselves where that wonderful story all began here," he added.

This year marks the 81st anniversary since Reverand Awdry accepted his post here at the church, and for his family who were here to see the unveiling, it was a chance to honour the memory of where it all began.

'As you get older you realise how important these stories are to children of all ages,' Wilbert Awdry's daughter Veronica Chambers says

Wilbert Awdry's daughter, Veronica Chambers, stressed the importance of these stories, saying: "As you get older you realise how important these stories are to children of all ages you meet - grandparents whose grandchildren who love all to the do with them and develop contact with steam engines they wouldn't have had before you realise how important and far-reaching it is internationally as well."

By the time Awdry left this church in 1946, just a year after the first stories were published, his characters were already on the way to becoming world-famous.

All these years later - the stories still feature in so many childhoods around the globe. And now, there's a small, but important reminder of where Kings Norton places in its creation.