Duke, originally named The Duke and named after his Grace, the Duke of Sodor, is a narrow gauge tender engine, and is considered to be a hero by many. He used to work on the Mid Sodor Railway up until the line's closure, and currently resides on the Skarloey Railway.
Duke was built at Boston Lodge in Minffordd, Wales by the order of the Earl of Sodor, Sir John Arnold Norramby, in 1879, and he arrived on Sodor in 1880 for the opening of the Mid Sodor Railway. The Directors named him "Duke" in honour of the Earl, who was the railway's chairman, and he pulled the opening train. He was the first engine to work on the railway. (Book; The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways)
When Stanley came to the Mid Sodor Railway, Duke looked out for him and tried to keep him in order, as Stanley had a tendency to ride roughly and often came off the line. All of Duke's warnings were ignored, and Stanley was converted into a pumping engine behind the shed. Duke later told Falcon and Stuart about Stanley's downfall when they were being cheeky to him.
Shortly after Falcon's arrival, Duke was put in charge of double-heading the "Picnic" train with him along the Mountain Road. Duke warned Falcon to be careful, but Falcon ignored his warnings, believing him to be an old fusspot. When they emerged from one of the tunnels, Falcon derailed and hung over the edge of the cliff, but Duke held on tightly. However, Duke was running low on water, and needed to have his tanks refilled with water from a platelayer's cottage nearby. Duke managed to hold onto Falcon long enough for the breakdown gang to arrive, and the train reached the top station safely.
Although Duke was soundly maintained during his time on the Mid Sodor Railway, he was much older and weaker than Falcon or Stuart, and sometimes suffered from various mechanical problems, which he was often teased about by Stuart. While taking the passengers back home after their picnics were finished, Duke was short of steam, and although he tried to keep on going, he was unable to go on any further and had to come to a stop. Stuart took Duke back to Arlesdale with Falcon's train and teased him about his problems, but Duke managed to get back at him by using the last of his strength to push Stuart up the hill. When the train reached the station, Duke had the last laugh.
Duke continued working with Stuart and Falcon for many years, even after the other engines on the line were sold off or scrapped. However, the railway began facing hard times, and in early 1947, the railway closed. Stuart and Falcon were both purchased by new people, but nobody was interested in Duke, as they thought he was too old. Duke was oiled, greased and sheeted up in the sheds at Arlesdale by his crew, and was left abandoned. Duke believed that his Grace would return to save him, but was unaware that the previous Duke had been killed during the war, and the new Duke, a boy, did not know of his existence and never claimed him as his own when the line shut down. When nobody came to see him, Duke decided to sleep to pass the time.
Duke was left abandoned in the sheds at Arlesdale for many years, but he was all but forgotten about. Stuart and Falcon, now Peter Sam and Sir Handel, still remembered Duke, and told the narrow gauge engines about him. Word of Duke soon spread to the Small Controller and the Fat and Thin Clergymen, who became interested in Duke and wanted to find him for the Skarloey Railway. They began searching through the hills of Arlesdale for him, and finally found him when the Fat Clergymen fell through the shed roof and landed on top of his saddle-tank. Duke was transferred to Arlesburgh by road, and was then taken to Crovan's Gate by Donald, where he met Peter Sam and Sir Handel for the first time in twenty-two years. (RWS; Duke the Lost Engine)
Shortly after Duke's discovery in 1969, he was overhauled at Crovan's Gate Works, and entered service on the Skarloey Railway in 1982. His restoration to active service marked the first time in the Skarloey Railway's history that the railway had locomotives to spare to other railways, and Sir Handel was able to be sent to the Talyllyn Railway after his overhaul was complete. (RWS; Great Little Engines)
Duke once lived on the Mid Sodor Railway with Stuart and Falcon, and the three engines worked happily on their railway for many years. However, hard times came, and the railway closed down. Stuart and Falcon were both bought, but nobody wanted Duke, as they thought he was too old. Duke was oiled and sheeted up in his shed by his crew, and was abandoned. (TVS; Granpuff)
Years later, a group of explorers came to see the Fat Controller, and told him that they wanted to search for Duke. The rescuers travelled along the Skarloey Railway in search of Duke, and finally found him when one of the explorers fell through the old shed roof. Duke was transported back to Crovan's Gate by Skarloey and Rheneas, and met up with Stuart and Falcon, now Peter Sam and Sir Handel, again when they came to see him. (TVS; Sleeping Beauty)
Personality and Traits
Duke is based on the Ffestiniog Railway's "Small England" class, which were built at Boston Lodge for the railway during the 1860's. It is uncertain which of the four Small England engines Duke is based on, but he seems to be based on either Prince or Palmerston, two locomotives that continue to work on the Ffestiniog Railway to this day.
In the Railway Series, Duke was painted dark brown with black lining, and he carried the Mid Sodor Railway crest on his tender. When he entered service on the Skarloey Railway, Duke's lining became red, and the crest was removed. He was originally the Mid Sodor Railway's No. 1, but was renumbered to 8 on the Skarloey Railway. For unknown reasons, he does not carry his number anywhere on his body.
In the television series, Duke is painted light brown with yellow lining, and his bufferbeams are red. He carries two red nameplates on each side of his saddle-tank, with his name written on in gold writing.
- Duke's nickname, "Granpuff", was a nickname that Wilbert Awdry was affectionately called by his grandchildren, as the smoke from his pipe looked like that of a steam engine's to them.
- Duke's current Grace is Sir Robert Norramby.
- Duke's model was used to make Bertram for the fifth season, which is why he never appeared after the fourth season.
- The Reverend W. Awdry's model of Duke was on display at the Reverend Teddy Boston's Cadeby Light Railway, up until the railway closed in 2005.