Donald is a Scottish mixed-traffic tender engine and the twin brother of Douglas. He was brought to Sodor to work as a mixed-traffic engine for the North Western Railway, but brought his twin along with him, out of fear that he would be scrapped. After proving himself to be Really Useful, Donald was allowed to stay, along with Douglas.
Donald was built at St. Rollox Works in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1899 with his twin brother, Douglas, and both worked on the Caledonian Railway. Upon nationalization, Donald became part of the Scottish Region of British Railways, and was renumbered to 57646.
In 1959, Donald was transferred to the North Western Railway, as the railway needed another engine to help out with the increasing traffic that had come during the summer period. However, Douglas feared that he would be scrapped if he remained on the Other Railway, and he tagged along with his twin on his journey to Sodor.
When the two engines arrived on Sodor, the Fat Controller was most surprised; neither engine could be told apart, as they claimed to have forgotten their numbers, which had "slyly slipped off" during their journey. They gave each-other names to avoid confusion, but told the Fat Controller that their former owner was not aware of this, and asking him which engine was which would be useless; this trickery was also planned by their crews, who just so happened to be related to each-other too.
Until he could determine which of the two engines was the fraud, the Fat Controller was forced to keep both Donald and Douglas, and the two engines were given numbers on their tenders to avoid confusion. The twins vowed to give the Fat Controller outstanding service to convince him to keep the both of them, but things became complicated when Douglas accidentally shunted Thomas' special coach, full of passengers, onto a siding. Things became even more complicated when Donald crashed into a signal box at Tidmouth and damaged his tender, and Douglas accidentally destroyed the Spiteful Brake Van while trying to push James and his train up the hill.
However, despite their misfortunes, the twins won support from the other engines with their strong work ethic and professionalism, especially when they demonstrated their skill in snow-clearing work, which they had learned in Scotland. After the twins helped to rescue Henry when he became stuck in a snowdrift, the engines took the twins' side and became determined to have them stay on the railway. After a suggestion by Edward, Percy was presented to the Fat Controller as a deputation, arguing that the twins would be scrapped if he were to send them away. After some consideration, the Fat Controller began to pity the twins, and in the end, he decided to keep the both of them. He requested nameplates for both engines and offered them new coats of paint, to which they both chose NWR Blue, as it reminded them of the blue livery their shedmates in Scotland wore. After this, Donald and Douglas became permanent members of the North Western Railway's fleet of engines.
When Henry became jealous of the Flying Scotsman, Donald helped Duck trick him into being given six new tenders, but in the end, all Henry received were dirty, rusty tenders filled with boiler sludge. He was also present at Cronk with Flying Scotsman when Henry rescued two diesels and their trains. After Culdee returned from Switzerland after being mended, Donald took him back to his home railway.
After the Little Western was reopened, the Fat Controller put Donald and Douglas in charge of handling the ballast trains on the line. The twins would often tell the other engines that "verra wee engines" brought the ballast down from the hills, which greatly intrigued the Main Line engines.
Shortly after he was put in charge of the Little Western, Duck began talking endlessly about his Great Western heritage, much to the chagrin of Donald, who teased him for "quacking" so much. To get back at him, Duck and his crew had a duckling placed inside Donald's water tank, which Donald and his crew discovered the next day. The duckling, Dilly, was friendly to Donald and his crew, and rode in his cab until she chose to settle down at Haultraugh. After Dilly settled down, Donald played a trick on Duck by having a box with an egg placed under his bunker, and ultimately ended up getting the last laugh.
Although Donald and Douglas were hard-working and reliable engines, they were beginning to become worn-out and exhausted from the increasing workload. To ease their work schedule, the Fat Controller brought Wilbert to Sodor until he could acquire an engine like him.
In 2011, Donald and Douglas were put in charge of taking loaded ballast trains down from Arlesburgh to Tidmouth. As he moved onto a siding, Donald's wheels slipped on the icy rails, and he accidentally destroyed the buffer stop at the end of the line. His twin had a similar incident a few days later.
After an accident with a cart of hay blocking the line, Donald refused to speak to Douglas, blaming him for causing the accident. Until he could forgive Douglas, Donald worked at the shunting yard with Duck, but overtime, he lost his patience with him, believing that he was doing everything wrong. Overtime, Donald became too careless, and derailed when he crashed through a buffer stop and fell into a ditch. Douglas came to his rescue, and Donald apologized to him, the two twins finally reconciling.
When the Harwick Branch Line was under construction, Donald and Douglas helped out with the heavy goods trains, delivering the construction materials that would be needed to build the line. After the pirate ship was lifted out of the cavern, Donald and Douglas took the ship down to Arlesburgh Harbour, where the ship would be put on display. Donald later attended the opening ceremony of the new branch line.
Personality and Traits
Donald is based on the Caledonian Railway 812 class. These 0-6-0 tender engines were used as mixed-traffic engines, and were used for shunting in yards in Glasgow as well as pulling goods and suburban passenger trains. The lone survivor of this class, 828, works on the Strathspey Railway in Scotland, and is the oldest engine on the line. Douglas and Edward's Ghost Engine also share this basis.
In the television series, Donald has always been painted in the British Rail black livery with white and red lining. His number is painted on the sides of his tender in yellow with red lining, and he carries two red nameplates with gold writing on his smokebox. Between the third and twelfth seasons, the nameplates were fixated on his boiler, but starting with his return to CGI, they were placed back on his smokebox.
- Like his twin, Donald's original number is an in-joke; the CR 812 class was only numbered up to 57645.
- The Rev. W. Awdry's model of Donald is currently on display at the Narrow Gauge Museum in Twywn, Wales.
- Donald's television series model is currently on display at the Hara Model Railway Museum in Yokohama, Japan. His eye mechanism was damaged during shipping, so as a quick fix, a set of new eyes were painted for him.
- Donald previously used the same whistle sound as Duck at a higher pitch. Starting with his return to CGI, he uses a lower-pitched version of Stephen's whistle sound.
- Donald's television series model never featured a water tank; it was only ever featured on his large scale model.
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