Ivor the Engine is a Children’s TV cartoon first created in the late 1950’s.
It was written by Oliver Postgate, and illustrated by Peter Firmin. Oliver Postgate also lent his voice to some of the characters, and the other characters were voiced by Anthony Jackson and Olwen Griffiths, with the music composed by Vernon Elliott.
Ivor the Engine was the first production of Smallfilms, and drew inspiration from Postgate's World War II encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, a former railway locomotive fireman with the Royal Scot train, who described how steam engines came to life when you spent time steaming them up in the morning.
Postgate decided to locate the story to North Wales, as it was more inspirational than the flat terrain of the English Midlands. The story lines drew heavily on, and were influenced by, the works of South Wales poet Dylan Thomas.
Ivor the Engine first hit UK TV screens in black and white, and was the first production of the newly created 'Smallfilms', which was produced for Associated Rediffusion. Initially only 6 episodes were produced .
Postgate and Firmin later expanded Ivor’s world by writing further stories for the ‘TV Land’ comic. This lead to 2 further series in black and white, each consisting of 13 episodes.
The labour intensive films were made in cut-out card animation, and moved at increments of 1/25ths of a second under a single-frame camera.
Ivor the Engine proved so popular that in 1976 ‘most’ of the stories were remade in colour with new illustrations (the original six episode detailing how Ivor got his whistle were not remade). This was made possible by Associated Rediffusion giving Oliver and Peter the rights back to the stories.
These colour shows were then repeated many times over the the years.
It was thought that many of the Black and White versions of Ivor the Engine had been lost. It was only after Oliver Postgate’s death, that the original episodes were found by his family (in 2010), in the old pig shed that Oliver and Peter used to as a studio to created many of their classic shows.