Responsible for the completion of illustrations for one book, Thomas The Tank Engine, Reginald Payne was used by Edmund Ward in place of William Middleton, who had proved largely inadequate to the task in the eyes of the author.

Reginald Payne slavishly followed Awdry's sketches in order to complete the quota.  Like the mistakes of Middleton before him, he had set another character's appearance for the duration - Thomas!  Originally based on a child's toy of a different appearance, the artist instead made Thomas into an E2 0-6-0 tank engine of the Southern region.  Content with this, Awdry allowed it to continue on!

Payne's illustrations were more bold and eye-catching to the reader than the previous book, and he's very much responsible today for creating the most famous illustrations of the entire series, as well as his hand in creating an iconic character.  However, he went uncredited for it much like William Middleton before him, and continues to do so in subsequent reprints of the volume.


Awdry found himself very satisfied with the standard of work set by Payne, despite there being inaccuracies in terms of point work and track, which they hoped to improve for new editions of the book.  These were "improved" also by C Reginald Dalby in 1950 for a new edition of the book.The artist was due to be asked back for the 3rd book, James The Red Engine in 1948, but by then had suffered a nervous breakdown following issues in the Admiralty, and could not resume his duties effectively.

Reginald Payne

The First Illustrator of an Icon (1946)