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Joseph Thomas first became interested in road transport when he was a school in the 1920’s.On leaving school he began an apprenticeship with the Worcester Valve Works, a subsidiary of Alley & Macllelan Ltd of Glasgow which probably lead to his particular interest in Sentinel steam waggons.Sentinel waggons were first built in 1905 by Alley & Macllelan but became a separate company based in Shrewsburyafter 1917.
Joseph had collected books, magazines, catalogues and photographs of all commercial vehicles, and steam vehicles in particular, since his school days. Having amassed a particularly large collection of Sentinel material Joe sought a co-author for a book on the history of the wagon builder.He naturally selected someone already well-known in the field, W.J.(Bill) Hughes. Bill wrote the first of two volumes “The Sentinel Volume 1” in 1974 which was published by David & Charles Ltd in 1975.Before he began work on Volume 2 Bill Hughes died unexpectedly in 1979.Attempts to find another author failed.
Anthony Thomas (Joe’s son) inherited his fathers interest in road transport starting with the obligatory collection of Dinky toys.Although not previously a writer, Anthony stepped in to complete the authorship of the second volume, attempting to emulate as near as possible, the Bill Hughes style completing the work in 1987.
It was at this late stage that David & Charles said they were no longer interested in publishing the companion volume. Joe and Anthony were determined that a companion volume should be produced in fairness to the 3,000 buyers of Volume 1. Anthony therefore contemplated the enormity of self-publishing and Woodpecker Publications was born with this sole task in mind. With the assistance of the Transport Publishing Co of Glossop, “The Sentinel 1930-1980” was published in 1988.This title was chosen in order to attract buyers interested only in the later products of the Company as well as those who already had Volume 1. Only 2000 copies were printed and these sold out in only four years.
At the time when a new publisher was being sought several said that the market had changed and what enthusiast wanted was picture books with little text and lots of photographs with detailed captions.Based on the success of the two previous books “An Album of Sentinel Works Photos No 1 – Standards & Supers” was written by Anthony and published by Woodpecker Publications in 1992. This book was not as successful as the first two but a limited number are still available from the publishers.
Album No 2, covering the DG & ‘S’ type waggons and all rail locos & railcars together with the Diesel lorries and buses was published in May 2010 and is still available from the publishers.