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The Railway Series

For other uses, see Oliver (disambiguation).

"Oliver, has resource!"
"And sagacity. He is an example to us all.”
Henry, James and Gordon remark about Oliver's escape from the scrapyard[src]

Oliver is a Great Western tank engine whoworks on the North Western Railway and is the railway's number 11 engine.

After being saved from scrap by Douglas, he runs the Little Western with Duck and his two autocoaches, Isabel and Dulcie.


Oliver was built by the Great Western Railway at Swindon Works and was "push-pull" fitted for branch line work. He was originally numbered in the 48xx series, but along with the rest of his class, he was renumbered into the 14xx series in 1946, eventually becoming 1436. He worked as a passenger engine on a branch line in the West Country.

Oliver reached Sodor in 1967. With the rapid closure of West of England branch lines, Oliver's crew were appalled at the prospect of their engine being scrapped or left to rust away at Barry Scrapyard. Both were bachelors with no local ties, so they determined to take a chance and try to save their engine, along with his coach Isabel and Toad the brake van. An escape route was carefully worked out with the help of a chain of sympathetic signalmen. It was necessary to travel at night - often over "goods only" lines - and lie hidden by day. They had many narrow escapes, and the journey took longer than planned.

When control got wind of the runaways, they hid in an old quarry branch and had the cutting blocked by rubbish to avoid being spotted by the diesels outside. The runaways decided it was safe to leave at some point, but before they could reach the greener pastures of Sodor, Oliver ran out of coal in Barrow Yard. Luckily, Douglas was able to rescue Oliver and took him to Sodor, taking him to Crovan's Gate Works. The Fat Controller soon found out and arranged for the three to be repaired and painted in Great Western colours. Toad decided to be Douglas' brake van to thank him, and the Fat Controller rescued another auto coach named Dulcie and gave her to Oliver.

Oliver was then sent to work on the Tidmouth-Arlesburgh branch line but became conceited after the big engines gave him their respect in recognition of his adventures and pushed his weight around, prompting several ballast trucks to push him into a turntable well. Oliver received little respect from the trucks after the incident but got his own back by pulling the ringleader, S.C. Ruffey, apart. Oliver is now well-respected by the trucks; out of fear they will be pulled apart too.


Despite his heroism and daring feats of escape, Oliver is an engine who is willing to admit every day is a learning curve. When he was still new to Sodor, he let the other engines' responses to his courage, resource and sagacity from his amazing recounts of daring escapes and adventures get to his smokebox and he became conceited. However, when the Troublesome Trucks pushed him into the turntable well, he grew into a much humbler, settled engine and was far warier of trucks. But later, with some help from his brake van Toad, he did gain much respect and authority among the trucks when he showed his strength with the ringleader of the trucks, S.C. Ruffey, a little more than he had perhaps been intending. Oliver still has gumption but is now a more obedient, sensible engine. He feels his responsibility on the railway deeply, is ever thankful for being aided in his escape from scrap by Douglas and is a trustworthy, tenacious, plucky engine. However, he can still be occasionally boastful or temperamental; despite this setback, Oliver is still one of the more really useful and well-behaved engines on Sodor.

Technical Details


Oliver is based on a Great Western Railway (GWR) 14xx Class 0-4-2T. These engines were fitted with a mechanical system allowing the driver to control the locomotive remotely from the cab of an 'Autocoach', such as Isabel. They were originally assigned numbers in the 48xx series but were renumbered into the 14xx series in 1946. Four engines of this class survive in preservation.

Oliver's number comes from a real 14xx, No. 1436, which was built at Swindon Works in August 1934 as No. 4836 and worked in the West of England, West Midlands and West London until it was withdrawn in October 1958. It was scrapped at Morkot Ltd, Caerphilly on the 1st of October, 1958. According to The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways and Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, "It is doubtful whether this (1436) was the number actually allotted to him in 1946".


Oliver is painted Great Western Railway (GWR) Mid Chrome green. He has black wheels, splashers, valences and pipes. The GWR 'shirtbutton' logo is painted on the sides of his tanks in yellow. He has brass GWR number plates on the sides of his cab with his number (1436) on them as well as a brass safety valve bonnet. He has red buffer beams.

Before he came to Sodor, he was painted in BR Deep Bronze green with orange and black lining and the BR early crest painted on the sides of his tanks.



  • Oliver is named after Oliver Wicks, who was a much respected member of Stroud Baptist Church. He was the Rev. W. Awdry's next door neighbour in Rodborough, Stroud.
    • Oliver's name may have also been inspired by Bulliver, a member of his class preserved on the Dart Valley (now South Devon) Railway, which is mentioned at the beginning of Oliver the Western Engine.
  • Willie Rushton gave Oliver a Yorkshire accent in his narration of Enterprising Engines and Oliver the Western Engine.


“Yon's an enterprising engine. I won away here with Donald; but I'd have been feared to do it on my own.”
―Douglas, Enterprising Engines
“Oliver's no use at all; thinks he's very clever
Says that he can manage us; that's the best joke ever
When he orders us about, with the greatest folly,
We just push him down the well...Pop goes old Ollie!”
―The Troublesome Trucks and S.C. Ruffey teasing Oliver with a song, Oliver the Western Engine

See also


* RWS only | ** T&F only | --- Dropped