A British library said someone returned a pair of books -- including an early Thomas the Tank Engine book -- 48 years after their original due date.

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The Basingstoke Discovery Center in Hampshire, England, said the books were mailed to the library along with an apologetic note from a person who checked them out nearly 50 years ago.

The books were The Railway Series No 22: Small Railway Engines, a classic Thomas the Tank Engine book by Rev W Awdry, and Learning With Colour Architecture: The Great Art of Building by Trewin Copplestone.

"We inadvertently took these with us when we moved from Basingstoke in 1972. Please accept my apologies for the late return of these items," read the note, which was signed "Andy."

The library said the late fees for the books would total over $10,800 by the current rates, but the facility put a moratorium on late fees in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Fortunately we are just happy to see them again," the library said.