SPD is the result of two close friends, Christopher and Owen, following the purchase of, initially, 3 Thomas production props. Opposed to the idea of owning such items and keeping them in a cabinet at home, it was decided that these models should be made available for the public to view.
Our display covers most eras of the show, and is specifically designed to give a flavour of how the original model-made series was filmed. As the collection has grown, we have begun to obtain props that help show just that.
We have known each other for several years, and both grew up watching this classic show. It has, in a way, shaped our ideas for our own futures. Christopher is presently studying Animation at university, whilst Owen is on a HND course in Media Production; both have long term ambitions to work in the media production industry.
The show has also cemented a mutual passion for steam railways in our interests. Owen volunteers on the Epping and Ongar Railway in Essex, where he is also editor and designer for their volunteer society's quarterly Journal, "Mixed Traffic." He also frequently visits other heritage railways across the country, and exhibits his model railway at hobby exhibitions.
Presently, he is working with the Holden F5 Trust to have a model of this class of the London North Eastern Railway produced to raise funds for the trust to complete their new-build project.
Christopher occasionally volunteers at the Leyland Society of Model Engineers' miniature railway - when there is a break in his studies, of course. As well as this, he works on his own animated films; a very time-consuming hobby.
Both grew up with the classic television series of "Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends." In late 2014, a successful appeal to save a model of James was run by Clearwater Entertainment. After witnessing this, we saw there was sincere interest in preserving and displaying models from the pre-CGI era of the classic show. Some further props were found on The Prop Gallery website, and after discussions between, we decided we would secure these for the benefit of all the fans. These props - namely the large model of Sir Topham Hatt, a resin-cast worker, Sodor Shilling crew gift, and surprise additions of a small scale Sir Topham figure and an original series 1 lead-made worker upon collection - entered the collection officially on November 12 2014.
Owen's Thomas-themed model railway was booked to appear at the Shoeburyness Model Railway Exhibition across the weekend of November 22 and 23. After some discussions with the organisers, we were able to secure space to display these props, and thus it became our first official outing.
We are indebted to The Prop Gallery for aiding us in securing these props, and all those that have followed since.