John T. Kenney was the illustrator who did six books of the Railway Series from 1957-1962. He was born in 1911, also the same year that Wilbert Awdry was born. Kenney trained to be an artist at the Leicester College of Art before taking a job at a firm called J.E Slater which Kenney met his future wife, Peggy. With World War II underway, Kenney joined and served in the 121st Light Anti-Air Regiment during which he made sketches of how both British and American soldiers invaded Normandy on June 6th 1944, and sweep across into Europe against Germany on the Western Front.
As well being a commerical artist, Kenney illustrated two self-written books: "The Grey Pony" in 1954 and "The Shetland Pony" in 1955. Unfortunately for him, sickness caused his resignation and take a job at freelance art. Kenney also did the Ladybird books including several of them such as "The Story of Nelson", "Florence Nightingale" and "King Alfred the Great". Edmund Ward commissioned him to illustrate a series such as "Hunter Hawk, Skyway Detective", "Belinda Beats the Band" and the Railway Series.
Kenney did the illustration of six books from 1957's Eight Famous Engines to Gallant Old Engine. When he developed trouble with his eyesight, he resigned by telling Reverend Awdry that he can't go on doing this. Awdry accepts his offer and has Peter and Gunvor Edwards to join in by doing Stepney the Bluebell Engine's illustrations to be published in 1963. John T. Kenney died in 1972 at the age of sixty-one years old when Tramway Engines, the last Reverend Awdry book was published plus illustrated by Peter and Gunvor Edwards.