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“As I thought. Rotten wood, rusty frames. Unserviceable before it came. Don't tell the trucks that; bad for discipline.”
― The Fat Controller to Oliver, concerning S.C. Ruffey

Oliver the Western Engine is the twenty-fourth book of The Railway Series.


Dear M.,
We both wanted to call this book Little Western Engines, but Publishers are stern men. They did not approve.

They, of course, don't know the trouble we've had with Oliver. We hope he has learnt sense, but goodness knows what will happen when he finds he has a book all to himself...

I know! If Oliver gets uppish, we'll set Messrs. Kaye & Ward on to him. That'll teach him!

Readers may like to know that "Olivers" and "Ducks" still work on the Dart Valley Railway in Devonshire; and "Small Railway Engines" are at Ravenglass in Cumberland.


Donald's Duck

The Fat Controller re-opens the Arlesburgh branch and asks Duck to run it for him. Duck is proud and one night talks so much about his responsibility that Donald, at the end of his tether, mocks him by making quacking noises and suggesting that he can lay eggs. Duck, furious, makes a plan to get revenge and his crew put a duckling in Donald's watertank. She pops out the next day at the water tower and Donald realises it was Duck's pay-back. The duck is tame and rides with Donald for a fair while until she gets off at Haultraugh. Donald and his crew, plotting a last ploy, place an egg in a nest box behind Duck's bunker. Duck acknowledges defeat and nowadays the duck, called "Dilly" by a stationmaster, lives happily at Haultraugh.

Resource and Sagacity

After Oliver was rescued, he, Isabel and Toad were repainted in Great Western colours, joined by another coach called Dulcie, who was also rescued and start working on the Arlesburgh branch. The big engines are amazed at Oliver's adventures and say approving things to him, making him over-confident from flattery but Oliver meets his match after a load of disgruntled ballast trucks push him into the turntable well. After Duck, the Scottish Twins and the Fat Controller speak to him sternly, he is left feeling very silly.

Toad Stands By

After Oliver is mended and returns to the yard, the trucks, led by a "Private Owner" wagon named S.C. Ruffey, sing a rude song about him. The others try to get them to shut up but no avail. Toad makes a plan and asks Douglas if he can share it with Oliver. Duck is apprehensive at first but Oliver feels he must make things right and so it is arranged. Oliver lines the worst trucks up, with guidance from Toad and starts. S.C. Ruffey, who is at the front, tells the others to hold back and they do but Oliver is so determined that he abruptly tears S.C. Ruffey apart. Although the Fat Controller attributes it to S.C. Ruffey's poor condition, he tells Oliver to keep it quiet. It is for a good reason, too, because the trucks are now so afraid Oliver will pull them apart that they never trouble him again.


During a Bank Holiday, Duck meets a cynical double-decker bus who holds a dogmatic opposition to railways. Oliver tells Duck that he should not be taken seriously and nicknames him Bulgy but is worried when Bulgy's friend arrives, leaving Bulgy to take their passengers with the promise of a faster way home and the lie that he accepts railway tickets. Duck is crossly puffing home when he is stopped by a bridge where Bulgy has wedged underneath. Duck carefully makes it across and takes the passengers home. In the end, Bulgy ends up staying under the bridge until it is mended but continues to lie and is eventually turned into a henhouse.


Full Book

Characters Introduced

Donald's Duck

Resource and Sagacity

  • Henry
  • Gordon
  • James
  • Donald and Douglas
  • Oliver
  • Troublesome Trucks
  • Isabel and Dulcie
  • Sir Charles Topham Hatt II
  • Duck (not seen)
  • Toad (does not speak)
  • Mike (cameo)
  • Bert (cameo)

Toad Stands By


  • Duck
  • Oliver
  • Alice and Mirabel
  • Bulgy
  • Rex (cameo)
  • Bert (cameo)
  • Isabel and Dulcie (cameo)
  • Donald and Douglas (mentioned)
  • Bulgy's Friend (mentioned)
  • Sir Charles Topham Hatt II (mentioned)


Donald's Duck

Resource and Sagacity

Toad Stands By

  • Arlesburgh West
    • Arlesburgh Shed


  • Arlesburgh West
    • Arlesburgh Shed
    • Arlesburgh Works
    • Arlesburgh West Ballast Chute
  • Haultraugh
  • Bulgy's Bridge
  • Bulgy's Field
  • Tidmouth (mentioned)


  • This is the final Railway Series book released in the 1960's.
  • The Rev. W. Awdry wanted to name this book Little Western Engines but the publishers insisted on having an engine's name in the title. In the foreword to his wife, Awdry joked that if Oliver started to get conceited, he would set the publishers onto him.
  • The name of the first story, Donald's Duck, is a reference to the Disney character, Donald Duck.
  • "M.", to whom the foreword was addressed to, is Margaret Awdry, the Rev. W. Awdry's wife.
  • This marks:
    • Toad's last appearance and only speaking role in the railway series.
    • Isabel, Alice and Mirabel's last appearance.
    • Dulcie's only appearance.
    • S.C. Ruffey and Bulgy's only appearance in the railway series.
    • Oliver's last speaking role in The Railway Series.
  • Oliver's accident in Resource and Sagacity was based on a real-life event where a Lancashire and Yorkshire 2-4-2T tank engine from the London Midland and Scottish Railway also fell backwards into a turntable well.
  • Bulgy is based on a real event from The Evening Standard. On September 26th, 1958, a trolleybus being towed through Lewes High Street, Sussex, had its electrical pole get stuck on the underside of a railway bridge.
  • The first illustration is based upon the Cambrian Coast railway line.
  • The events of this book took place in 1968.
  • According to The Real Lives of Thomas the Tank Engine, S.C. Ruffey's accident being pulled apart would be grounds for a lawsuit against the Fat Controller from his owner.
  • In the fifth illustration of Resource and Sagacity as well as the fourth and sixth illustrations of Toad Stands By, Oliver's number was depicted as "1420" instead of "1436". It’s unknown if this was a goof or intentional.
  • In the Korean version of the book, the lettering on Bulgy's "anti-rail league" sign is removed, while the "railway bus" sign is translated into Korean.
    • Strangely, despite "railway bus" being translated into Korean, his "free the roads" sign remains written in English.
  • The Jung Ang Educational Foundation Inc. South Korean version transcribed “Bulgy” as "배 불뚝이”(Bulgy bus) however, "벌지" is the correct transcription in South Korean.
  • An American caboose is illustrated at the rear of Oliver's train in Toad Stands By.


  • Haultraugh is misspelt "Haultreath" in Bulgy.
  • In the fourth illustration of Resource and Sagacity, Mike is missing his side rods.
  • In the second illustration of Bulgy, Rex is incorrectly drawn as a 4-8-0 and Bert is incorrectly drawn as an 0-8-0; they are also both missing 'Arlesdale' on their tenders.
  • In the fourth and sixth illustrations of Toad Stands By, Oliver is incorrectly numbered 1420 on his buffer beam.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Japanese 機関車オリバー
Korean 서부 기관차, 올리버