The Box childhood home of author the Rev Wilbert Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, now has a plaque honouring him.

Mr Awdry, born in 1911, spent his early years at Journey’s End – today known as Lorne House – and it is believed the village’s iconic tunnel provided inspiration for the Railway Series with the blue engine.

The author, who lived at the house from 1920 to 1928, listened to steam engines powering up the hill at night and gave them characters, including those of Edward and Gordon.

These resurfaced when Mr Awdry told stories to his son, Christopher, who was ill with measles in 1943. The first book, set on the fictional island of Sodor, was published in 1945.

Today, Lorne House is a bed and breakfast, run by Mike and Fran Ralli, who are delighted with the plaque.

Mr Ralli, 63, who has run the guest house for five years, said: “The Awdry family wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth and instigated getting the plaque.

“He lived here until the age of 18 and it is where he got the inspiration for the series.”

Mr Ralli said Lorne House had visitors from all over the world, interested in the beginnings of Thomas and other characters from the series.

Mr Ralli, who read the books to his four sons, said: “It is incredible just how many people have been influenced by the books. They’ll often come here because of its history.

“We often get young families who come here and a lot of wives joke that their husbands are even more excited than the children.”

The plaque will be officially unveiled at 2.30pm on August 11, by the Awdry family. The author’s son, Christopher, will talk about the story of Edward’s Day Out, inspired by the Box Tunnel. Daughters Veronica and Hilary will talk about their father’s life.

Box Primary School’s reception class was asked to paint pictures of Thomas. Winners Murron Johnston, Sammy Garrett-Cervantes and Amelia Kemp were selected by Mr and Mrs Ralli and given gift vouchers by East Somerset Railway for its next Thomas event.

Mr Awdry, who died in 1997, wrote 26 stories in his Railway Series. Christopher has written 16 and there have been TV and audio adaptations.