FOR decades, the world of fictional miniature railways has been dominated by Thomas the Tank Engine and the rest of the Fat Controller’s crew.

Now the famous blue engine and his steam-powered pals have a new contender to deal with — in the shape of Jimmy the Jinty Author Michael Moore, of Camellia Close, Heaton, has penned four stories about an engine and its adventures on the East Lancashire Railway (ELR).

Mr Moore, aged 62, a former teacher at Canon Slade, is a volunteer on the railway, which runs from Heywood to Rawtenstall via Bury and Ramsbottom.

He said: “Jimmy has been a real hit. We came up with the idea for the first book when my wife could not find any stories, other than Thomas the Tank Engine, to read to children at the family fun day.”

Thomas the Tank Engine used to visit the railway regularly for family fun days. But bosses were forced to scrap the event for the first time in 20 years at Easter after being denied a licence by HIT Entertainment, the company which owns the copyright brand for Thomas HIT insisted ELR gets enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks for every worker on the railway.

The railway said it had no problem getting checks for people who came into direct contact with children, but refused to get checks for volunteers who would have no interaction with youngsters.

Mr Moore said: “Everyone said the first story was so good that I should write some more. I’m planning to write about 15 to 20 books.

“We still sell some Thomas merchandise at our stations on the East Lancs Railway, but eventually Jimmy will take over.”

More than 200 copies of Mr Moore’s first book, Let’s Meet Jimmy, have been sold in just over a month.

Three new adventures will be on sale at the family fun weekend on October 3 and 4.

All four books are available from stations at Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.

The Jinty was first built in 1924 and was designed by Henry Fowler, who based his engine on the Midland class 2441 locomotive.

More than 400 engines were built between 1924 and 1930 but only 10 survive to this day.

HIT Entertainment declined to comment.